When you graduate from school, you have a decision to make: take a break from everything and go backpacking for a month or two, or dive straight into the job hunt? When it comes to looking for jobs it’s important to think about the typical yearly hiring cycle.
To put it simply, there are certain times of the year when businesses focus on hiring and there are other years when it’s put on the back burner. So if you graduate and look for jobs at the start of the summer you’ll be facing a different situation in the job market than if you graduate around the New Year.
The Annual Hiring Cycle
The first major hiring spree of the year comes at the start of the year. This is when companies have their new annual budget to spend on their new initiatives as well as hiring new employees to support them. There is a second, smaller hiring spree that occurs late-spring, before the decision makers in charge of hiring go on their vacations. For the most part, companies will slow their hiring process until their decision makers are all together.
The other major hiring spree will pick up around the end of summer, starting around mid-August. It lasts until sometime in November, since companies usually want new employees to be settled in their role before the holiday season sets in. The other reason is that companies want to spend the last of their annual budgets for hiring and as a late push for their year’s initiatives.
What Does This Mean for Summer Graduates?
Unfortunately for students who graduate in the summer, they’re stuck in no man’s land—they’re too late for the New Year hiring spree, but too early for the autumn one. However, just because no one’s hiring doesn’t mean there’s no work to be done as a job seeker. The summer could actually be a great opportunity to lay the foundation of your autumn job search:
- Research employment trends, industry and job information, best employers, and so on
- Learn how to optimize your best resume, cover letter, and WayUp/LinkedIn profile
- Build your professional network, on LinkedIn, other social media platforms, and in person
- Find the best job boards for your industry and targeted job, set up job alerts
- Volunteer or intern to build your relevant work experience
In fact, you can do some if not all of these things while still giving yourself some time to go on a trip. The important thing is that these things can have you set up to succeed by the time the autumn hiring spree comes. With that foundation, you can give yourself an edge on the competition.
What Does This Mean for Winter Graduates?
The situation for students who graduate in the winter is different, though it’s not necessarily better. On the one hand, you’re entering the job market right in time for the New Year hiring spree, but you’ll also have less time to lay a strong foundation for your job search. So while you might be more likely to get a job, you might not be able to get the job you want.
You can always do your prep-work for the mini-hiring spree at the end of spring, but there will be far fewer opportunities by then. The other option, for the extremely ambitious, is to start laying a foundation for yourself while you’re still in school and dealing with your assignments and exams at the same time.
The other main difference between winter and autumn hiring periods is in the quality of job opportunities. There might be fewer job opportunities, but there are also fewer candidates. Some job openings have a deficiency in qualified candidates, so it can be a good time to shoot for a position slightly higher than the usual entry-level positions that grads have to start with.
The last thing to note is that some industries have different hiring cycles. Industries dependent on warm weather, such as construction and tourism, will have their biggest hiring push come on the eve of warm weather seasons, and see a drop off as fall and winter sets in. Meanwhile, retail jobs see their big push leading up to Christmas.
It’s a good idea for students to know what jobs they’re going to be targeting after graduation and to do some research to see when those jobs are most in demand. Summer grads have the luxury of time to take a break, as long as they leave themselves some time to do their prep work. Winter grads, meanwhile, enter into a more chaotic situation with fewer but more diverse job opportunities.