When is the Best Time to Recruit?

When is the best time to recruit?  Ideally you want to be recruiting when lots of good candidates are available, paying attention and willing to talk to you.  You also want to be recruiting when your competition is NOT actively trying to recruit the same people you are.   So when do you find that ideal combination of events?

During the December holidays you have fewer employers to compete with, but you also have fewer candidates looking.   That usually makes holidays a “wash” – you can still recruit, but you have no special advantage.  But there is a time when the odds are definitely in your favor.

The “golden recruiting window” is the first three weeks of January. 

On the candidate side:  You have lots of job seekers who took a bit of time off for the holidays.  Perhaps they spent time with family and complained about their job.  Perhaps on a long car trip they reflected on what they really wanted from their careers and concluded their current job did not provide the challenge or stimulation they need.  I’m not exactly sure why it happens, but I do know that every year a huge number of incredibly well qualified people come on the job market in early January.  They make a decision to consider new opportunities.  Some people even make a New Year’s resolution to get a new job.

On the employer side:  Many employers gear up their hiring in January.  Some firms have fresh new annual budget money to spend.  But most managers are swamped in December and put off until January all the nitty gritty tasks like writing a job description, or getting internal approvals signed off.   This administrivia delays the beginning of their recruiting process until late January, and sometimes February.

That leaves a golden recruiting window in January with lots of motivated candidates who are newly “on the market” – or at least available for a conversation – and very few employers who are talking with them yet.

So if you want a gorgeous, motivated candidate pool, with relatively little competition from other companies, get your act together in early December, and launch your recruiting initiatives right on January 1.   If you run a fast clean hiring process, you can be making job offers before your competition has even started recruiting.

9 Responses to When is the Best Time to Recruit?

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Bob Corlett, Les McKeown. Les McKeown said: RT @BobCorlett: A "golden window" of opportunity is about to open for recruiting good people. http://bit.ly/5vR3IL << Get ready for 2010! [...]

  2. Pete Radloff says:

    Great work, Bob. Really hits the nail on the head. All too often recruiters go into ‘coast’ mode until early Feb, when they could be snatching up all the good candidates early in the year.

    This is one of those old lessons that never becomes outdated.

  3. Excellent piece! Speed up while your competition for top tier candidates is coasting and you will soar ahead.

  4. Steve Boese says:

    Bob – I love the point you made about candidates reflecting on their jobs during long car rides. I do some of my ‘deepest’ thinking in the car, you hit the nail on the head with that observation.

  5. Bob Corlett says:

    Thanks for the comments. I vividly remember, on January 1st of 2008, after careful December preparation, we started recruiting on 12 different searches. Our clients extended 10 job offers in January and had them accepted before other employers (the competition) even had their competing jobs posted online. (The other two searches closed in early February)… Yes, I do love January recruiting :)

  6. [...] early January is the best possible time to be recruiting (here is why).   So, if you get into action right now, in December, you can probably upgrade to an even [...]

  7. Adam Calli says:

    I’ve seen it both as a job seeker & in my recruiting, you are so dead on. The only trick…getting those darn managers to give you the info you need! Where;s theri sense of urgency? Oh well, all we can do is our best!

    Great posting!

  8. [...] that you will stop suffering this year. Make your plans in mid-December to be recruiting heavily in early January–which is the best time to recruit all year. At least then you can get someone started in mid-February. Share [...]

  9. [...] recruiting does not work that way. Not in January. January is different from every other month of the year in recruiting. It is the only month you can get a significant competitive advantage over everyone else. If you do [...]


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