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Summer is the Hardest Time of Year to Find a Job….Truth or Myth?

Summer is the Hardest Time of Year to Find a Job….Truth or Myth?
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BY STEVE NUBIE

Finding a job is never easy and there are times during the year that are better and worse.  Are summer vacations the culprit?

I served as an Executive Coach at Kensington International for 7 years. My primary responsibility was to advise and coach people pursuing a new job after everything from a layoff to a merger.  My primary caseload consisted of people 50 and over.  It’s a real challenge for people with that level of experience particularly with ageism creeping into the job market.  The big question was when is the best time to actively pursue and expect an interview and potentially get hired.  The fact of the matter is that it varies for some specific reasons.

The Summer question? 

There is a common belief that summer is the most difficult time of year to find a new job. The assumption is that everyone is going on summer vacation and there’s no one left to interview candidates and potentially hire them.  That’s simply not true.  It’s fair to say that many people take vacation in the summer mostly due to the weather and the fact that the kids are home from school on summer vacation.  But it’s a stretch to believe that any company would allow so many employees to vacate the office that the company can’t perform basic functions like interviewing and hiring.

Why hiring managers matter 

Almost every company has a Human Resources department that manages the initial search for new employees and the initial screening and interviews. Sure, a hiring manager might go on vacation but there’s always someone to backup that person’s job function and responsibility.

Even if the person running a specific department is going to make the final decision and is on vacation, most vacations span a week and occasionally two weeks. Companies don’t come to a screeching halt because employees take a vacation in the summer.  Those vacations are choreographed so there is sufficient staff to perform all job functions including interviewing and hiring. The only thing that might diminish a job search in summer is that a different time of year is prime time for getting hired.

The first quarter push 

The first quarter of the year defined by January, February and March is the peak time of year for interviewing and hiring. New budgets have been approved, requests for new hires submitted by a department during the fourth quarter planning process have been given the green light, new projects and initiatives have created a sense of urgency, and all employees feel energized after the holiday break.

A good strategy in that regard is to submit any application in December, but follow up in January and continue to apply to companies through February. In fact, any job search should be an ongoing process across any time of year but the first quarter statistically offers the best opportunity to get hired.

So, when’s the worst time of year for hiring?

The fourth quarter of the year is statistically the most difficult time to find a new job. The one exception is retail where retailers staff-up in anticipation of the holidays, but those tend to be short-term positions and part-time without full benefits.  Many people who find work in retail during the holidays find themselves out of work come mid-January.

Corporate positions are another story. It’s very difficult to get hired in a corporation during the fourth quarter unless there is an immediate need to fill a position.  There are a number of reasons why the fourth quarter is such a challenge for the job seeker:

  • Budgets are running thin or nearly exhausted due to unexpected events during the year.
  • Many companies engage in the planning process during the fourth quarter.  This involves approval of the budgets for departments, initiatives and staffing.  Until the plan is approved, no one is getting hired.  The process usually begins in earnest in October and is concluded by November.  But that’s when another factor comes into play.
  • The holidays are more of a distraction to employees than any vacation during the summer.  The trend begins at Thanksgiving and continues through December leading up to Christmas, Hanukah, and New Year’s.  Holiday parties abound and most people see December 15th as the time to check out for a needed break.
  • People are often exhausted towards the end of the fourth quarter.  Today’s demands often result in long hours, working weekends and high stress.  Day to day functions carry on, but many people see January as the time to implement their approved plans including interviewing and hiring.

So where does that leave summer? 

Summer is not the best time to find a new job, but it’s not the worst time.

The fact of the matter is that by summer any job position approved during the fourth quarter planning process have been filled. Opportunities in summer are typically driven by the need for additional staff due to unexpected business growth, or the need to replace a staff member who has retired, quit or was fired.  It has nothing to do with vacations.  It’s simply the fact that most new openings were filled in the first quarter.

So, should you wait until the first quarter to apply?

No! If you’re looking for a new job you should approach your search like a job.  Depending on your situation I would recommend a 9 to 5 approach.

  • Search job sites for opportunities.
  • Join LinkedIn and check their job section.
  • Network with friends and past colleagues and associates.
  • Make it a goal to at least apply to one position a day.
  • Go to corporate websites and register on their careers page and they will contact you if your profile fits a position.
  • Persevere.

The bottom line on summer 

The opening question was whether or not it’s a myth or the truth that summer is the worst time of year for a job search. The answer is -both.  It’s not the worst time, but it’s not the best time.  That doesn’t mean you give up.  Openings occur all the time and quite often you may find that someone offers you a consultant position or part-time position in summer. Take it!  You can continue your job search and who knows, after they get to know you, you might get that tap on the shoulder and the question:  Do you want to work here?  Good luck.

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Steve Nubie
Steve Nubie has been writing professionally for 38 years. He is a published author with 10 books to his credit, has written for CBS Entertainment for the Twilight Zone series, and has written hundreds of articles for magazines and the Internet. He has served as Chief Creative officer in the marketing and advertising industry, was an Executive career-coach, is a chef and has traveled extensively living in Asia for two years, and London for two years.