January! A month full of fresh hope and optimism from job seekers, fuelled by the “new year, new me, new start” sentiment. Most of us come back to work having recharged the batteries over Christmas with a fresh appetite for the year ahead and new career goals.
There is always a significant uplift in candidate enquiries in the first few weeks in January, our web traffic went through the roof this year, in fact it has been the busiest January I can remember in my 17 years in recruitment with new candidate enquiries!
There is one significant problem though. That sentiment does not apply to a large number of recruiting companies. Their timescales and objectives are often different to yours. January can be an incredibly testing time to secure a new job. Consider the following:
The quarter sits in the middle of the two most common year end dates.
- 1st April. A high number of companies start their new financial year and their recruitment plans are built around this date. Many larger companies are simply not allowed to start new hires until this date has passed. They can interview, they can even make positive noises around their intentions towards you, but it is unlikely they will be able to follow this up with a concrete offer.
- 31st December. This is also a common year end for many companies. Right now they are still assessing results and market conditions for the year ahead, which are directly linked to expansion and additional headcount being agreed. Chances are it will be a few weeks yet before they have plans firmed up and ready to move ahead with hiring.
Headcount freezes are common at this time of year.
These are often automatic and nothing to do with anything untoward. The simple fact is when companies have just passed or getting nearer to year end, naturally they will want to assess the needs of their business and market conditions prior to spending money and recruiting new heads.
It’s bonus time!
A high percentage of employee bonuses are paid between January and March. A reward for all of the hard work and achievement over the previous 12 months, meaning resignations are less likely and in turn there are fewer vacancies. Most employment contracts don’t allow bonuses to be paid whilst an employee is serving notice. There are exceptions to this, and sometimes there is scope to negotiate but by and large people who are thinking of moving won’t take the step to resign until they have banked their bonuses. The merry go round is not in full swing yet!
The pace disappears from the market between December and January.
From the start of December, recruitment moves down the agenda unless processes are right at the end and being finalised. With the party season and Christmas holidays at the front of mind for many, hiring simply gets forgotten about or put off until the New Year. By the time January starts other priorities take place and the process gets delayed whilst everyone catches up. It happens.
But don’t get disheartened. It’s been like this for as long as I can remember and is a short-term problem. There are some great opportunities right around the corner.
The early signs are that we are destined for another great year, judging by the feedback we’ve already received from our clients across MarTech, Adtech and FinTech.
Patience and realistic expectations are key – it’s all about results and budgets at this time of year which may lead to a slower process.