Seasonal timing has a large impact on a job search. It can work in your favor or impede your progress. For the job seeker, each month will present different challenges and opportunities. If you’re planning to launch or continue a job search in October, here’s what you need to know to use your time wisely and maximize your efforts.
1. It’s the busiest hiring month of the year
You may think that January is the busiest month for hiring, but it is actually October. The fall hiring cycle is short and intense; it picks up in September and slows in November, creating a unique concentration of activity in October. Add to this the additional demands of seasonal retail hiring and the opportunities available in the October job market typically outpace any other month.
For most industries there is a push in October to wrap up end-of-year hiring before the holiday distractions begin. Recruiters and hiring managers have figured out their fall talent needs in September and are now focused on scheduling interviews, making decisions and filling roles.
Now is the time to ask yourself: how important is it to you to secure a new job by the end of the year?
Passive job seekers can use October as a great time to cast a wide net of discussions and see what’s available in the market. You can take your time and stay in evaluation mode with the knowledge that while there may be a break in activity over the holidays, you can pick back up with a more focused search in January.
If you want, or more importantly need, a new job in the next two months, you are going to have to focus in on your best prospects and devote significant time to your job search in the month of October. Carving out this time, especially if already employed, is not going to be easy so you have to get clear about your priorities to maintain momentum. Stay true to your goals and don’t let yourself get distracted.
2. You have to gain traction quickly
If you are just launching a job search in the month of October, you need to ramp up your search as soon as possible. The hiring slowdown of November will be here before you know it.
However, many new job seekers spend weeks working on their resume before starting their initial outreach. Please heed my advice: you do not have time to perfect your resume in October. Spend a maximum of a day or two working on your resume. Seek feedback from one other person and make revisions, then start sending it out.
Resumes of course do matter so make sure you’re sharing the full picture of your capabilities and accomplishments, but don’t spend extra time tweaking the style or overthinking the sentences. Get the facts pulled together in a simple, clean format and refocus your precious time on crafting introduction emails, networking and preparing for interviews. These tasks are much more important to the success of your search.
In October, you want to spend the bulk of your time reaching out to people that know you already or were introduced to you by someone you know. These warmer leads and positive references will help you get on the radar faster and gain a place of priority among other candidates.
Always seek a warm lead over simply applying online. It will produce better results and save you an enormous amount of time wasted on jobs that are already filled or have too many candidates for you to break through and get noticed.
Keep in mind that the hiring process moves faster during this time of year; you won’t have weeks to prepare for discussions or interviews. Start working on crafting a concise and compelling career story and improving your interview skills now.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, know that a busy October job market may not result in an abundance of opportunities, given your unique circumstances. Work hard at generating leads, but prepare yourself emotionally for the frustration of converting them to interviews and offers.
October is a demanding month and it may induce high anxiety and disappointment. This is normal for all job seekers, no matter how talented they are. Try your best to be kind to yourself throughout the process.
3. Negotiations may catch you by surprise
The good news about October is that hiring decisions are made quickly. However, that speed can be disorienting and catch you off guard if you aren’t ready to negotiate for yourself.
When compensation discussions are brought up earlier than you’re expecting, it usually signals that you are a top candidate and the company is making the assumption that your next round of interviews will go well. They are trying to get ahead of the offer process so they don’t lose time with mismatched expectations or hit roadblocks with internal approvals. All of this is in an attempt to be more efficient.
Being asked prematurely about your compensation requirements, or even receiving an unexpected offer, are certainly good problems to have. Just make sure you are ready to advocate for your own interests.
Long before you receive an offer, you should know what your deal breakers are, what salary range you hope to be in and what things outside of compensation have additional value for you (i.e. flexible hours, working from home, professional development, etc.). Always be prepared to communicate your wants and desires.
You will be more likely to confidently balance your interest in the role with your desire to get what you deserve if you are not flustered or surprised. Start thinking now about what you want and why. Plan time to practice for your offer negotiation discussions in the same way that you prepare for an interview. With practice you will be more thoughtful and succinct, and your delivery will flow naturally.
And yes, you should always negotiate any offer, no matter what. This doesn’t mean that you should arrogantly or aggressively push for large swings in the level of compensation, but you should respectfully request at least one or two concessions (a higher base salary, a sign-on bonus, a slight adjustment in title, additional vacation, etc.) that would make the offer more appealing to you and then allow the company an opportunity to possibly improve it. Even if they say no, it is worth asking.
Overall, October is a great month for a job search, but it will tax your stamina and emotions. Getting and staying prepared will serve you well.
Kourtney Whitehead is a career expert and author of Working Whole. You can learn more about her work at Simply Service.