December Recruiting – Gain An Advantage When The Competition Is Low

December is the optimum recruiting month because the talent supply is high, and the competition is low. So, “time your recruiting” to when the recruiting competition is low. If you time it correctly, “the little guy” can almost always beat the best firms during December. In part, because there is no dip in the supply of talent, some individuals will simply want to start the new year at a new company. In addition, most of the recruiting giants like Google, Apple, and Amazon conduct no significant professional recruiting during this month. So the result may be that you can hire a top candidate in December that wouldn’t even pay attention to your organization in between January and November when they are likely to be courted by multiple top firms. Below you will find the many reasons why more talent is available and why fewer firms recruit during this unique month. 

More Talent Is Available This December – (Justification Category #1)

There is no dip in the number of interested, qualified, and available talent during December for various reasons. Here are five reasons why.

  • Record turnover means that a high amount of quality talent is available –– currently, employee turnover is at a record high, so there are many high-quality candidates currently available. In addition, due to employee disenchantment, 55% of Americans expect to search for a new job over the next 12 months. It’s also important to be aware that many sales, retail, and hospitality jobs routinely experience their highest turnover rates during December.
  • BTW, during December, there is no drop in available prospects – even with the traditional December slowdown in job postings. Recruiters must realize that traditionally the number of available job seekers does not decrease significantly from the average during December. So, this means that there is ample supply and lower competition for the available talent every December. 
  • Inflation pressure is driving many to look for better pay – both the fully employed and the unemployed are feeling the real inflationary pressure on household items. So many are literally currently looking for jobs that pay more.
  • After a year of turmoil, many are rethinking their future at year’s end – this rethinking happens every year. However, with the recent Covid related turmoil, the most valuable prospects, “the forward-looking,” reevaluate their current work and life situation. And as part of that reassessment, the best prospects are invariably rethinking whether they want to spend another year in their current job, company, and industry. 
  • Act before the job market tightens – when the upcoming dramatic increase in infrastructure spending gets into full swing. The job market for at least hourly employees will begin a long period of tightening. So it makes sense to hire as much as you can before the economic recovery begins.

The Competition Is Low In December – (Justification Category #2)

In December, there is less recruiting competition fighting over each available candidate. If you delay, you might be surprised to learn that if you wait even one month until January. You will find that January is usually the month where the ratio of new candidates to new jobs is at its highest (last year it was 24% higher than the next highest month)

  • Some firms literally do no hiring during December – some firms (especially tech firms) completely shut down operations during the last 2 weeks. Also, many other organizations place a complete hiring freeze in effect in December because they have literally exhausted their headcount. While other companies simply stop recruiting because their hiring managers are distracted by the holidays or on vacation. Therefore, they are unavailable for recruiting. As a result, your normally fierce recruiting competitor companies offer no competition to those organizations that are smart enough to recruit during December.
  • The competition’s recruiters are exhausted – talent availability has been a serious problem throughout 2021. Recruiters have had to fight to fill every position. So, as a result, almost everyone in recruiting is exhausted, frustrated, and literally out of energy. That means that even if their company is actively recruiting, the energy level of your competitor’s recruiters will be well below average. If your firm’s recruiters are energized by the thought of this unique December recruiting opportunity, your firm has an additional competitive advantage.
  • Catch your opposition off guard – also remind your recruiters and hiring managers that this “December push” will help them build an additional advantage. Most recruiting leaders at other industry companies will not be aware of, and they will not have planned for this hidden surplus of talent. So, your company is likely to catch your recruiting competition completely off guard and unaware. 
  • If your hiring managers are focused, you have another competitive advantage – in most organizations, hiring managers will be distracted because of holiday activities and preparing year-end reports. This means that their managers won’t be available for hiring-related activities in most cases. So if you can get your hiring managers to agree in advance to be fully available and focus on recruiting during December, you will still have another competitive advantage.
  • If you recruit globally, realize that not everyone celebrates the December holidays – you should take a step back and remind yourself that Christmas is primarily a Christian Western country holiday. Suppose you are a company that recruits and promotes regular workers worldwide. In that case, you can take advantage of the fact that many global prospects will be available for job searching during December because they are not distracted by Christmas activities. 
If you can only do one thin – identify at least one key job where you routinely “lose out” when you recruit against the major companies in your industry. Have the relevant hiring manager agree, in advance, to prioritize December hiring for that key job. Then assign a top recruiter to identify the available talent for that job during December specifically. And then use an accelerated hiring process to land any top prospects before the January recruiting push begins.

Prospects Are Easier To Approach And Land In December – (Justification Category #3)

In many cases, top prospects are easier to contact and interview during December. Here’s why.

  • Recruiting targets are easier to contact when their work volume is low – because almost everyone is exhausted by year-end. Often almost no important work is being done. So individuals have more time for job search. 
  • Almost everyone is active on social media at year’s end – almost everyone is highly active on social media around the holidays. And that means your recruiting prospects are constantly checking social media for messages from family and friends. However, that also means that employees will also have an improved chance of seeing, reading, and even responding to your recruiting messages. And in many cases, your recruiting targets will also use their free hours during December to update their LinkedIn profiles. So your recruiters can use those updates as an alert that these individuals may be open to new opportunities.
  • With a higher percentage of remote workers, they have more time to search– because employees who are working remotely have no boss physically looking over their shoulder. It will be easier for your remote working prospects to find the time to search, apply and interview. 
  • Few important events are scheduled, so recruiting targets can get away – there are no industry conferences, internal company off-sites, or other major corporate meetings scheduled during the holiday period. And as a result, top prospects are not attending or preparing for them. So they have more available free time to consider job opportunities. Many prospects also take their “unused vacation” in December, and as a result, any recruiting targets on vacation will be much more available for calls and interviews. Obviously, with few events and meetings scheduled, if your recruiters don’t have the December blues, they will also have more available time to make your strong “December hiring push.”
  • December is the top “easy excuse month” to leave the office for candidates – if you took the time to analyze it, you would immediately realize that December is the easiest month for an employee to find an “acceptable excuse” for leaving the office. Employees routinely leave the office for a few hours using acceptable reasons like shopping, running errands, and Christmas parties. There are more acceptable excuses during this time. It is relatively easy for candidates to make an excuse to get out of the office for either a long lunch with a recruiter or a formal in-person interview. 
  • Reduced holiday travel may increase candidate interview availability – in some cases, your recruiting targets may remain in town because of Covid restrictions on holiday travel. Without being on holiday travel, prospects will be more likely to search and then be available for zoom or in-person interviews. 

Final Thoughts

The smartest recruiting leaders realize recruiting is a head-to-head competition. And that you will recruit a much higher quality of talent during the months when the supply of experienced talent is extraordinarily high and the number of active recruiting competitors is disproportionately low. The supply/demand differential perfectly describes the recruiting situation during December of 2021. After this year, that was full of constant recruiting disappointments. It makes even more sense to recruit in December proactively

to reduce the level of competition from other major corporations. 

The goal of this annual year-end reminder is to make recruiters and hiring managers fully aware of the benefits of all forms of “timing recruiting for a competitive advantage.” But especially those supporting a “December recruiting push.” Of course, it may take some effort to convince your managers and recruiting staff to initiate this recruiting push.” However, in my view, it’s crazy not to take advantage of the idleness of others and to seize this opportunity to produce some amazing recruiting results by instituting a “December recruiting push.” So go get’em, tiger!

Author’s Note 

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About Dr John Sullivan

Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations.

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