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The Best Recruiting Window Is Slamming Shut

Posted by Bob Corlett on December 8, 2015

Timing is everything in recruiting, and the best recruiting window of 2017 is about to slam shut.

Do you have any job openings? Did you recently get a resignation letter from someone on your team? Welcome to the club. 'Tis the season...for job offers. That resignation letter just passed along someone else’s job opening -- and is as welcome as a re-gifted holiday fruitcake.

That new job opening is so untimely because another employer used clever seasonal timing against you. Clever employers were actively recruiting in October and November, so they could make their job offers now, let their new hires give notice through the holidays, and start fresh in January. It’s a great strategy.

You still have a chance to use seasonal timing to your advantage, but only if you move quickly.

Here are your options:

The December Recruiting Option: While possible, there is no special advantage to recruiting over the holidays. Yes, fewer employers are competing with you for candidates, but it's also harder to get the attention of candidates, and interview scheduling is nearly impossible. So if your search is already underway, be flexible. If the right people aren't paying attention to your recruiting message, you might need to wait until early January

The Early January Recruiting Option: Year in and year out, the golden recruiting window is the first three weeks of January (for 2017, January 2nd to January 23rd). New Year's resolutions are a powerful thing. In early January, more candidates are resolved to look for work, while relatively fewer employers are ready to recruit.

This is the window of opportunity you cannot afford to miss. Early January is the only time of year that you can get a serious competitive advantage purely by being prepared. And everything indicates that the rest of 2016 is going to be a competitive slugfest between employers.

But to succeed, you need to get your recruiting plan in place right now, in December. You must launch your recruiting effort in the first week of January. If you do this right, you can interview candidates and make your job offer in January, your new hire will start work a few weeks later, and you will only lose a few weeks of productivity toward your annual goals.

If you miss the early January window, you will lose months of time getting your new hire started.

The "Start Thinking About It In January" Option: Everyone who takes this path ends with their new hires starting work in April.

Here's why a delay of a few weeks costs a few months. Ramping up for a new recruiting effort takes time and effort. You need to get people together to get the position approved, write a job description, define the salary, plan a recruiting strategy, and get things underway. I rarely see this process happen in less than three or four weeks. So when you wait to start these conversations in January, you might start recruiting in February -- just like everyone else. And then you might interview in March, just like everyone else, and all your top candidates will be receiving other job offers, from everyone else. All that competition bogs down your hiring, leaving you with second and third tier candidates to choose from.

At this stage of the economic recovery, it’s wise to assume that anyone you want to hire will probably receive a similar job offer from some other employer...except in early January. With just a bit of December planning, you can make your job offer in January, safely taking your new hire off the job market before anyone else even knew they were there.

In this case, 90% of winning is just showing up at the right time.