Traditionally Christmas is a busy and exciting time of the year for everyone; not a time you would necessarily associate with searching for a new job or with companies taking on new employees. Job seekers tend to take time off from their job search as the holidays approach with the rational that very few companies will be hiring in the lead up to Christmas as their time will be occupied with staff trips, parties and annual leave. However, more and more companies as seeing the benefits associated with hiring in December in order to beat the inevitable increase in recruitment activity and in turn, industry competition, that occurs at the beginning of January as work resumes.
This is of course, industry dependant. For those in retail and hospitality, hiring in December (undoubtedly their busiest time of the year) would not be appropriate as all focus is likely to be concentrated on ensuring the business can keep up with the increase in demand. In this case, hiring several months before the festive period would be beneficial to ensure all new staff are fully trained in preparation for their busiest period. However, for professional services, December tends to be a quieter month in terms of workload and this can therefore be the ideal time for recruiting. As recruitment consultants, we know first-hand that the myth which states that the hiring process dies down in December is not entirely true; indeed, it may be quieter than other times of the year, but this can work in the favour of both hiring managers and job seekers.
For companies looking to hire new staff members, initialising the recruitment process in December, rather than January can have many advantages. Firstly, this enables hiring managers to cherry pick candidates ahead of their competition; something that is especially advantageous in today’s very much candidate-driven market. From an organisational point of view, candidate interviews and phone calls are easier to arrange over the Christmas period as typically more people have time off work in December than they will in the new year. Those managing the hiring process are also likely to have more free time and less urgent responsibilities in December; enabling more time for staff training and inductions to take place while workloads are relatively low, minimising any potential teething problems that could negatively impact current members of staff.
For job seekers looking to secure a new role, the benefits of job hunting in December are also numerous. If they are still working, applying for roles when their workload is reduced, and they have more time off will make the application process much easier. Competition from other candidates is likely to be lower as not everyone will choose to continue their job search over Christmas and therefore their commitment to the job search will be emphasised by sending applications at this time, highlighting their diligence, making them stand out and helping to ensure they will not go unnoticed by employers. In many cases, more vacancies start to arise over the Christmas period as employees who have been considering leaving wait to receive their Christmas bonuses before quitting. Additionally, the increase in volume of networking and social events over the Christmas period could also be used to a job seeker’s advantage by using them as recruiting opportunities.
Timing is critical in recruiting, both from a hiring perspective and from a job seeker’s perspective. In any competitive endeavour, if you want to beat the competition you need to go against the flow and so, in this case recruiting or searching for a job when others are idle is the optimum time to do so. Firms and candidates alike can benefit from what is known as counter cycle recruiting, where a recruitment push is made in quieter periods in order to take advantage of the lowered level of competition. This benefit, coupled with the many other benefits discussed in my article, are just several reasons that hiring and job seeking over the Christmas period can be advantageous. However, in true Christmas spirit, the main reason has to be that for job seeker’s and hiring managers, there may be no better Christmas present than receiving their dream offer or the addition of a brilliant new employee!
Happy Christmas… And Happy Recruiting!