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Understand Recruitment Cycles to Give Your Job Search an Edge

Understand Recruitment Cycles to Give Your Job Search an Edge

John Rossheim, Monster

When it comes to connecting with the right job opportunity, timing isn’t everything, but it’s certainly something. Tuning into industries’ and employers’ annual recruitment cycles just might give you a decisive edge.

That’s the consensus of recruiters and employers with fingers on the pulse of seasonal variations in hiring. Here’s a quarter-by-quarter summary of how these hiring dynamics play out.

First Quarter: A New Year’s Wave of Hiring

Sometimes peaks of hiring correspond with workplace factors that are only loosely related, like when people take vacation. “Hiring seems to be done by consensus more than any other decision,” says Scott Testa, chief operating officer of Mindbridge Software in Norristown, Pennsylvania. “So most hiring decisions have to be made when people are in the office.”

Major hiring initiatives may follow close on the heels of the holidays and summer. “The big months for hiring are January and February, and late September and October,” says Testa. “Job seekers who make contact right at the start of these cycles have the best chance of being hired.”

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Strong hiring periods like the first quarter, when demand for talent may outweigh the supply of qualified candidates, may be a good time to go for a job with more responsibility or higher pay. “If you’re currently employed and looking to improve your status, you’ll want to look during the peak hiring season,” says Glenn Smith, president of search firm Precise Strategies in O’Fallon, Illinois.

Second Quarter: Gearing Up for Summer

For those whose livelihood depends substantially on fair weather, spring is when hiring peaks. In the construction industry, hiring in April, May and June proceeds at double the pace of December, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS).

Tourism and hospitality hiring is also very strong in the spring. And businesses looking to hire professional workers before fall often do so now, before key decision makers start rotating out for summer vacation.

Third Quarter: Recruiters Relax a Bit, and Vacation Plays a Role

Hiring slows down in July before picking up at the end of August. For those with nontraditional but impressive employment backgrounds, there’s an advantage to looking in relatively slow hiring months like July and December, says Smith.

For example, recruiters, less pressed for time than in peak months, may be willing to take a longer look at an experienced professional woman seeking to return to work after taking years off to care for children.