Sometimes life is all about timing. A missed flight connection can have a ripple effect, a stock market aberration can help (or hurt) your financial standing, and leaving a restaurant 10 minutes before your favorite sports team or band rolls in and buys everyone a round becomes a story of what might have been.
Timing is a key factor in your job search as well. Of course, people are hired or fired every single day of the year, and companies hold reviews all the time: at the end of the calendar year, end of the fiscal year, the anniversary of your hire date, or handing out a promotion on the spot.
But just like buying a car or renting an apartment, there are definitely key “windows” where you might be more likely to further your career. And if you’re reading this in the Fall of 2015, the window of September 15 through November 15 might be something you want to pay attention to. Here’s why:
In 2015, Labor Day falls very late, on Monday September 7. That means that the end of “summer” extends quite a bit into September. In some parts of the US, they take their beach season very seriously. While many think of July and August as vacation time, many employees and executives alike are at the beach, visiting friends, or at least mentally checked out until after Labor Day, even if the calendar is on month nine already. And when key employees are away, sometimes things don’t get done.
Once back in the office, it’s not like everything snaps back instantaneously. In addition to people that might have extended the long weekend an extra day, let’s just say that there are employees out there that are more than happy to use the four-day work-week to slowly get back into the rhythm. That means it might be Monday September 14 before people are really back in business mode.
Now let’s look toward the end of the year. At many firms, you can pretty much write off the final 2 weeks of December for the holidays. While people might still be in the office, major decisions (such as hiring) are rarely getting done. And if you take it to the next level, many times the first few weeks of December make it an easy excuse for management to say, “that sounds like a good idea, but let’s tackle it after the holidays.”
Taking this a step further, the last week in November is often a wash for those in the US due to the short week and the Thanksgiving holiday.
Mid-November also marks the time where many companies are formulating budgets for the next year. While nimble startups or small firms might simply hire based on demand, at some corporations there’s a very strict protocol … analyzing personnel budgets and strongly guarding head count. If you want to hire a new employee, a manager really has to prove the impact to the bottom line, submit lots of forms, in hopes of getting it approved – for the next year. I’ve also seen it a few times where an employee asks for a raise in late November, only to be told that budgets for the year have already been submitted, so it will have to wait for January or beyond.
So what this means is that the prime time to level up your career might be focused in September and October. But before you relax on that two month window, remember this – the hiring procedure is taking longer than ever:
- The average length of the interview process has nearly doubled from 12 days in 2009 to 23 days in 2013.
- Candidates are now often subjected to five, six, or even seven or more rounds of interviews before companies finally make an offer.
- In some cases, employers are so fearful of hiring the wrong person, that they’re essentially waiting for perfection.
So how does this affect your career? As I started out saying, I’m sure there are stories of being hired on the spot or given a huge promotion in January, July, or Johnny Appleseed Day (March 11).
But if you’re looking to take the next step in your career this fall, you better snap out of summer and make your plan of attack before the changing leaves (and budgets) are gone.
Set aside specific time to address the core elements of a successful job search:
- Take a look at your resume and give it a refresh
- Update your LinkedIn profile with new skills and accomplishments
- Is your headshot up to date? It might be a good time to swap out those older photos on LinkedIn, Gmail, Skype, and other social platforms with something current
- Do you have your own domain and website yet? Recruiters and hiring managers are definitely going to search for you online
- Determine key networking events you can add to your calendar
- Think about in-person or online classes that you can take to update your skills
- Research your worth using Salary.com’s Salary Wizard so that you’re ready to negotiate when you get that offer