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Recruitment cycles: When is the best time to hire?

Kate Allen, Managing Director, Allen Associates

There’s no doubt that January is a busy time for the job market. It’s often said that starting a new year, including making resolutions for the future, prompts people to think objectively about their current roles. However, on a more practical level, this is also a good recruitment month for companies. With updated budgets and sales forecasts, managers can see whether they have the resources for hiring needs.

Data from job search website Monster proves this flurry of activity isn’t just anecdotal. It found that January 4th was the most popular day for Candidates to search for a role, and looking at the whole year, six of the top 10 search days fell within this month. Of course, January isn’t the only month people look for a job, but a knowledge of recruitment cycles, and how this could affect you as an Employer or Candidate is certainly helpful.

A busy job market in January has its advantages and disadvantages. While there might be more positions available, Candidates could also be facing increased competition from a wider pool of applicants. At the start of the year, Employers may have the breathing space to read through CVs, to choose carefully between applications. This means that applicants have to work harder, doing everything they can to stand out from the crowd.

From an Employer’s point of view, quantity isn’t everything. A high volume of applicants may show that you’re successfully attracting talent, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll find the right fit for the role. From experience, we know that highly qualified Candidates tend to be passive job hunters. To source these experienced, senior workers, you may need to approach them actively – working on a range of strategies including your company brand – to persuade them to make a move.

Of course, January isn’t the only time to hire or to get hired. In general, spring and autumn are also good times to act as opposed to summer and Christmas. You know your organisation best, but as a simple rule of thumb, recruitment cycles often fall in tune with peak and off-peak times for business. Just take June, July and August, for example. With key members of staff on holiday during the hotter months, you may find it easier to schedule your next recruitment drive outside of this natural down time.

My advice for Employers and Candidates is to prepare ahead. Use the slower periods to think about your business growth, who you’ll need to recruit next and how to fill existing or future talent gaps. Adopt an ‘always on’ attitude towards hiring. By this, I mean that even if you’re not looking to fill a role immediately, it’s still important to build a good talent pipeline. Although summer is viewed as the worst time to post a job advert, there are still people looking for and applying for new roles within this period. If you’ve done your networking successfully, you should be able to fill a position regardless of the month you’re in.

There are some exceptions to the rule. These seasonal variations certainly vary from industry to industry. When you work in tourism or retail, for example, hiring around the holidays becomes incredibly important. If you work in finance, you’ll know that January to April is one of the busiest times of the year. These companies may not concentrate on finding new members of staff until afterwards, however they may call in support from freelance or Temporary workers to aid them with extra work specifically.

Businesses looking to attract bright, young graduates should also think about the educational calendar year – identifying the right period to attract people leaving university. Most students will finish their degrees in June but will look for a role to progress into well before this. To find the best Employees in this qualification bracket, it’s important to start advertising opportunities in the spring at the latest.

While there is no right answer, it’s fair to say that recruitment is incredibly competitive at the moment. Potential Employees have a good range of options in front of them, so if you’re looking to elevate your hiring process January could be the optimum time. That said, there’s no seasonal downtime at Allen Associates.

For over 20 years, we’ve been building relationships with many fantastic clients and applicants. As a result, we have access to a large database of pre-assessed and available Candidates. If you need our support, I’m confident that we can find you the right fit whatever the time of year.

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