Even though the dog days of summer are still upon us, job seekers might be best advised to start looking ahead to the fall.
New York-based career coach Kathleen Brady said the fall signifies an annual uptick in hiring as companies look to take advantage of any unspent money in their yearly budgets.
Much like back-to-school time for students, Brady, the author of "GET A JOB! 10 Steps to Career Success(Inkwater Press, 2013)," said each hiring season — and especially the fall — requires advanced preparation.
In a recent email Q&A, BusinessNewsDaily asked Brady about why employers treat seasons differently when hiring and how job seekers can best take advantage of that.
BusinessNewsDaily: How and why do seasons play a role in employers' hiring decisions?
Kathleen Brady: The seasons correlate to business cycles. During the first quarter, businesses ramp up to set the objectives and targets for the year. There is a flurry of hiring activity to support new initiatives, and to replace employees who announce their departure after collecting year-end bonuses. During the second quarter, hiring slows down as new employees settle in and employers focus on the tasks at hand. The first half of the third quarter is typically very slow. Many decision makers (and job seekers) are preoccupied in June, with graduations and the end of the school year activities, and in July with vacations. Employers also wait to see the financial reports from the first half of the year before deciding if they need to add to the team. By mid-August, with that data in hand, through Thanksgiving, hiring picks up again as employers focus on meeting the objectives and targets set for the year. Between Thanksgiving and New Year's, not too much happens in terms of hiring.
BND: What is the best season for hiring and why?
K.B.: The best season for hiring is the fall. Mid-August through October is very busy. Employers refocus after the summer. Department heads push for an increase to take advantage of remaining budget for the year. Many realize they must hire before January or they risk losing allocated funds for new employees. They also want to get new recruits in before the holiday season mindset takes hold in November.
BND: What is the worst season for hiring and why?
K.B.: It is a draw between summertime (Memorial Day through mid-August) and the holiday season (Thanksgiving through New Year's). Decision makers are away in the summer and they are focused on year-end business, not to mention holiday pressures, between Thanksgiving and Dec. 31. Since hiring is slow during those time periods, it is the exact right time to start a job search. By using this time to research companies, network with professionals in the industry and prepare marketing messages and materials, job seekers will be several steps ahead of others who opt out of the slow seasons.
BND: What should job seekers be doing now to prepare for the fall hiring season?
K.B.: They should be using the summer to do their research. By investing the time to do self-assessment and market assessment, they will be able to articulate the value they add to the position they are seeking. Take advantage of the slowness of the summer months to set up informational meetings with people in order to learn more about what employers need. Focus on building relationships that can assist in the job hunt — instead of working on a tan.
BND: Once fall hits, how can job seekers make themselves stand out in such a crowded job market?
K.B.: Be employer-centric. Focusing on what the employer needs, not just in the job itself, but also in the job search process, is what will make candidates stand out in the crowd. Self-assessment is a critical step to designing a career/life plan that will bring joy and fulfillment. It is a necessary component of the job search process because it allows candidates to target specific types of employers that offer what they want. But they must remember, their joy and fulfillment is not an employer’s primary concern. It is the job seeker’s responsibility to figure out a way to translate their strengths, wants and needs into benefits for them. They must be prepared to articulate not only what their strengths are, but also why they are of value to this specific employer. The fact that they want a shorter commute, or need more money or want more responsibility or want to try something different does not demonstrate how they help them solve their problems.
BND: How should job seekers tailor their job search strategy for each season?
K.B.: Be mindful of the business cycles affecting the target industry. Always consider what else might be going on in the employer's world and adjust the approach and expectations accordingly. That being said, there is a certain recipe to job hunting regardless of the season. First, conduct a self-assessment to determine skills and talents, as well as wants and needs. Next, they need to conduct market research to identify which employers are in need of someone with their skills and talents that also meets their wants and needs. Armed with the information they uncover, candidates should craft an industry-specific resume and cover letter and master their interviewing skills. Finally, learn how to negotiate and evaluate offers by coming full circle and reviewing which ones best suits skills, talents, wants and needs. That is the basic job search paradigm. But, the devil is in the details. Use the slower seasons to learn how to conduct meaningful self-assessment, how to do market research, how to network and interview effectively and how to negotiate and evaluate offers.