I recently saw an article talking about the cycles during the year in which staffing activity has peaks and valleys and I decided to investigate further. Let’s look at it by quarter to add some insight into these fluctuations.
The first quarter is typically a strong hiring period, when demand for talent may outweigh the supply of qualified candidates. Most companies’ hiring initiatives follow the peak of holidays and the summer. The biggest months for hiring are January and February, but seem to curtail in March around spring break, due to vacations. Also, many companies pay out their yearly bonuses near the end of Q1, so some people hang around waiting to receive those before making any job changes.
The second quarter can fluctuate depending on the results of first quarter activity. Some companies have fulfilled their open requirements and may not have additional approved headcount until after summer. However, the candidate pool can be much more active during this quarter because people are actively looking to make changes. Businesses looking to hire professional workers before fall often do so now, before key decision makers start rotating out for summer vacation.
Hiring slows down in July before picking up at the end of August, mostly influenced by those taking summer vacations. For those with nontraditional but impressive employment backgrounds, there’s an advantage to looking in relatively slow hiring months like July and December. Most hiring decisions are made in consensus, when the majority of managers are in the office.
The fourth quarter presents the most complex hiring dynamics of the year, with a combination of fall activity, seasonal hiring, and end-of-year budget maneuvering. Although December hiring is low in many industries, recruiters are often determined to fill the year’s remaining openings by December 31. The supply of applicants dwindles as Christmas and the New Year approach. Hiring managers and CEOs will typically try to reduce their operating profits by incurring search fees toward the end of each year, as a tax reduction measure.
Knowing more about these quarterly trends can help anticipate hiring companies’ needs and capitalize on the availability of qualified candidates in the market.