Understanding recruiter cycles and timing your efforts accordingly, from getting professional help with CV or your resume, to sprucing up your LinkedIn to reaching out to your network, can work to your advantage.

Here are four reasons why – and what you must do to gain an edge over the competition.

  1. Decision makers are in the building

In my experience, hiring is generally accomplished via team or group consensus. To be able to get consensus on interviews and hiring decisions, it stands to reason that people must be present in the office at the same time. This occurs in the winter – having returned from holiday vacations.

Reaching out via LinkedIn, email or phone will allow you to engage with others, have them talk with their colleagues about you and agree on next steps. The chances of consensus are higher when most team members are present, as is your shot at getting hired.

  1. …in a business frame of mind

Once folks have adjusted to post-holiday reentry, people have stopped thinking about parties, vacations, baking and gift giving, and are ready to get back into the swing of things.

The post-holiday “fog” usually takes a few weeks to clear. Once it does, hiring picks up quickly and interviews start to happen. It is the perfect time to make your move by letting them know you are interested. No need to lead off with a “Happy New Year” message. Instead, showcase that you are ideally suited to help their organization through your resume, LinkedIn and outreach communications.

  1. Money, money, money

Many companies have their goals outlined before the year gets started but don’t receive annual budgets until January. Once they know how much they can spend to transform their visions into reality, they can proceed forward and hire with assurance. The bottom line? They’ve been waiting to get jobs filled and are eager to do so. Now’s your time.

Submit a resume that includes quantifiable achievements and be sure to include a few career highlights in your cover letter to show that you’re worth their investment.

  1. Companies recognize that top talent must hit the brakes until the new year.

According to Career Sidekick’s Biron Clark, companies are aware that many employees wait to quit until they receive their annual bonuses in January, forcing top talent to put their job search on hold until then. But once these spots open up, it’s time to put that job search into high gear.

Job postings can give you some insight into which companies have budgets or positions to fill – quite possibly because of end-of-year attrition. This is a great way to identify potential companies.

Competition is steep – so bringing your “A” game is a must.

In any job search, you must weigh the odds against the landscape around you. While activity is greater during the winter job hunt, the competition tends to be steep.

Your best bet to gain a competitive edge? Do your homework, be ready to execute a solid networking strategy, and make sure your resume and LinkedIn profile are current from a content and, more importantly, a format and style perspective. Here are three tips to get your resume ready:

  1. Write for the screen

Gone are the days of printing out your resume. If and when printing occurs, it’s usually not until later in the interview process. Documents written for print do not fare well when read online. Your resume and LinkedIn must be easy to read on a screen of any size, from desktop to mobile.

HINT: Select 10- or 11-point sans-serif fonts (Calibri and Ariel are great!). Avoid dense or thick text, keep your bullets/paragraphs to two to three lines, and don’t use outline-style paragraph indents.

  1. Numbers speak louder than words

Wherever possible, try to quantify achievements by including figures to explain your success

HINT: Ask yourself if you grew revenue, saved time or money, or contributed in a measurable way to the bottom line. Sum up your results ideally in five bullets or less per job description, taking care to weave in language that deals with your job responsibilities. For example, “Increased annual sales 30% by qualifying new prospects and penetrating previously untapped markets.”

  1. Think blueprint, not brochure

Avoid a lengthy list of every aspect of your job description. Instead, focus on how you left your mark at each company.

HINT: What are you most proud of? Be sure your very first bullet or paragraph speaks to this and use your other responses to populate the rest of the bullets in your resume. For example, ”Turned around a bottom-ranked territory in just 12 months. Developed and executed a multifaceted sales and account management strategy that catapulted team to #3 of 20 in region in just 18 months.”

Timing may not be everything, but when it comes to interviewing and job hunting, it may give you that extra edge.