This article was originally published by Forbes in December 2020.
Should you pause your recruiting efforts or hold off on launching a new search for a key hire until after the New Year? This is a question that we frequently receive from our clients around this time of year with the holidays swiftly approaching. It’s common to assume that candidates won’t want to engage with recruiters around the holidays and that no one would leave their company during bonus season. However, these assumptions are absolutely false, and in contrast, the holiday season is the most optimal time of the year to attain new talent for your organization. Here are a few reasons why:
- It’s an industry secret that the majority of headhunters, particularly executive recruiters, take the month of December off. One of the most difficult parts about executive recruiting is cutting through the noise as competition for a candidate’s interest is fierce. Executives often tell me they get five to 10 messages a week about new job opportunities. However, with most recruiters taking December off, the competition quiets and you have a greater likelihood of connecting with your target candidate without getting lost in a sea of rival opportunities.
- Don’t executives want to use the holidays to unplug and not think about work? This is true — some potential candidates will go fully into vacation-mode and not take phone calls, but that’s not the case for everyone. With the pandemic still in full effect, travel has decreased dramatically and there are many people sitting at home looking for reasons to take a break from whatever home improvement project their spouse has them working on. One executive actually told me that she took my call as an opportunity to get out of the house and avoid her in-laws. Not to mention, most candidates would much rather take a recruiting call from the comfort and privacy of their home versus sneaking into the broom closet of their office. With the proper approach, your call will likely be welcomed.
- Is it true that no one will entertain a conversation about changing companies during bonus season? This logic is backward. If a candidate is expected to be paid out a bonus in January or February, December is the perfect time to start entertaining conversations as searches take weeks, if not months, to complete. Even if a candidate leaves an employer early in the new year, they will likely not be walking away from a large portion of their bonus, which they’ve already earned even if they haven’t been paid yet.
- Many executives view their time over the holidays and before the start of the New Year as an inflection point, a time for them to think about what life could look like beyond their current role and company. Not only are executives likely to be more reflective this time of year, but the beginning of the year provides the perfect opportunity to make a clean break from their company. Typically, candidates have been spending the last few months going through an annual planning process, which includes people and succession planning. Catching someone as they are in this frame of mind lessens the likelihood of hearing, “I still have so much to do,” or, “I don’t want to leave my employer high and dry.
- Finally, it’s common for organizations to initiate new searches in early January when new budgets get approved. Why not give yourself a four- to six-week jump on the competition? That time can make or break a search and unlock the ability to recruit incredible talent.
So what’s the risk to companies that hit the recruiting pause button over the holidays? They’ll likely miss out on exceptional talent whose “candidate window” is only open for a very limited period. While it may seem counterintuitive and require a bit more focus, continuing to drive the recruiting process through the holidays may be one of the few competitive advantages your company gets as it competes in the war for talent in the New Year.