I love the fall. College Football is right around the corner. I can start playing Rocky Top on Saturday mornings. Fire pit nights are more frequent. And companies are hiring! It never fails, the fall is always our busiest time of the year (knock on wood).
I first thought this would be a boring topic. It isn’t controversial. It’s not going to help you interview better or improve your resume. But, as the job orders continue to come in, I’m reminded of one of the reasons I started this blog: To share the simple nuances and insights I take for granted with those that I’m not interacting with regularly. Information I’m sharing on a regular basis, sometimes daily, on phone calls or over coffee with someone starting a job search.
If there’s even a chance it could lead to someone landing a great opportunity, it’s worth writing.
Most are busy with demanding work schedules and all sorts of family commitments. People tend to start a job search when it’s convenient for them. That’s understandable. But that’s not always when companies are busy hiring. It’s helpful to understand seasonal trends and if there are additional nuances related to your level of pay or type of work.
August, September and October are the busiest hiring months of the year:
- Summer is ending. School is starting. Vacation season is done for most. That goes for hiring managers and candidates. It becomes easier to schedule interviews. It becomes a bigger priority.
- Next, you know what we all say when we hit November: “I can’t believe it’s almost Thanksgiving”. The rest of the year is a blur. November hits and then it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. Holiday parties, time with family and too much eating and drinking!
- These holidays also mean budgets are expiring. Similar to vacation policies, many companies take a ‘use it or lose it’ approach with budgeted headcount. “Oh you didn’t need that headcount we gave you? Looks like you did just fine. We’ll just take that back!”
March, April and May come in at 2nd busiest time of year:
- After ringing in the near year it’s time to focus on year-end responsibilities and deadlines. This consumes January and February. Even March depending on size of company and if it’s public or private.
- You get a double whammy on budgets. You start the new year with a fresh budget but a lot of companies want to see how Q1 goes before hiring a bunch of people.
- This is also before vacation season (except for spring break): Memorial Day, July 4th and summer vacations.
Tip: A common mistake I see is someone focusing on when they want to start a new job: “I want to start a new job first of the year” or “I want to start a new job when summer is over.” That doesn’t account for the amount of time between starting a search and actually starting your new job. An interview process can take a month or two, if not more. You’ll also need to give a 2 or 3 week notice to current employer. If you’re hoping to start a new job in the fall, that means getting things going in the spring or summer. If you don’t start the process until the fall, those jobs are going to your peers and your search is probably leaking into the new year.
How about position and level related trends?
The middle of the year is active for higher level job movement.
- People with greater bonus potential see more opportunities in the spring and summer. Most companies pay bonuses in Q1. The higher the bonus, the less likely someone is to walk from it. Obviously. That limits January and February moves. Bonuses hit, more job changes happen, which creates more openings when someone leaves for another company. Picture musical chairs. But, as the year goes by and it gets closer to the end of year again, the less likely someone is to leave b/c bonus payout is getting close again.
Late spring, summer and early fall are the busiest time for public accountants to transition.
- Public Accounting? Late Spring, Summer and early Fall are by far the most popular times to transition to corporate roles. The traditional busy season ends mid-March. It’s not common to leave during busy season or right before. Both moves are frowned upon and leave the firm in a bad spot. (That said, depending on which firm, they are often times taking advantage of their employees. Topic for a different blog)
- If you’re in public accounting and not sure if you’re ready for a change, considering your options during this time can be beneficial. Many of your friends and colleagues are interviewing after busy season. They might just end up getting a job you would have wanted. I’ve seen far too many get to October, start to dread the next busy season, only to find out it’s probably too late.
Tip: Immediate following busy season is often a pretty good break in the action. I’ve seen countless people enjoy that break and say they’ll look for a job in September or October. Often times this is too late. The process for jobs that get filled in September or October start a month or two ahead of that. If you think you’re done with public accounting, get the feelers out as soon as busy season is over. Better yet, find a recruiter you like and get to know him/her before busy season is over. If you wait until September or October, odds are you should just go ahead and prepare for another busy season.
A Big 4 Public Accountant literally just accepted a corporate accounting position today with one of our clients (8.3.16)
Now you know the busiest hiring times of the year. Keep in mind it can take several months between starting a job search and actually starting a new job.
Curve Ball: Do you zig when others zag? Consider putting your feelers out in November and December. Activity slows down but the companies interviewing are highly motivated. Additionally, you have less completion because most are focused on the holidays and not responding to LinkedIn messages from recruiters. Take advantage!
Anything you would add for your specific line of work or industry?