Take Advantage Of… This Year’s Holiday Recruiting Pause (‘Tis the season” to be recruiting)

Holiday Hiring allows average organizations to land quality candidates that they normally couldn’t. 

Yes, it’s true. When most major corporations temporarily pause their hiring, even the underfunded recruiting efforts at an average organization can produce amazing results during Nov/Dec. Why can they succeed during this time period? Because this slack period dramatically reduces the corporate recruiting competition that average companies face.

This corporate hiring slowdown/pause occurs at the end of each year because most corporate recruiting budgets have run dry and/or because corporate hiring managers are largely unavailable to recruiters throughout the holidays.

Understanding Why “Holiday Recruiting” Is So Effective

Before you can garner support for this program, you will need to show your executives why it is so effective. My research has revealed that a holiday recruiting push (a.k.a. Year-end recruiting) has an extremely high ROI because it cheaply produces high-quality candidates quickly.

Fortunately, after years of recommending this approach, I have compiled a list of more than a dozen different justification reasons for implementing holiday recruiting. In this article, I have separated those reasons into three categories. These are: 1) Why there will be less recruiting competition, 2) Why there will be a high number of interested candidates, and 3) Why December is always a great time for recruiting. 

1. Why there will be less year-end recruiting competition in 2023

Recruiters will face a lower level of hiring competition this year for the following reasons.

  • Lower corporate competition will result in better quality hires – this holiday recruiting approach is especially effective when it is implemented by underfunded recruiting functions that don’t have a strong employer brand because of the absence of a great deal of corporate competition. The jobs of these “lesser organizations” will stand out. Perhaps for the first time, your job postings can be easily found by top candidates. And, of course, precise timing is critical. Because if you pass on December and wait just one extra month to begin recruiting, you will find that (throughout last year) the greatest percentage of jobs were posted in January (on the 4th). And, the highest number of applications were also received in January (on the 17th). This makes January the month with the highest recruiting competition!
  • During this year-end time period, recruiters and hiring managers don’t do much work – many recruiters and hiring managers routinely “mentally slack off” towards the end of the year. At the same time, the volume of a hiring manager’s regular work is also reduced. You should also realize that this “slacking off” is much more likely during this particular year. Because 2023 has been a particularly hectic year in recruiting. So, most involved in recruiting are already either exhausted or highly frustrated.
  • Widespread hiring freezes will further reduce the number of competitor job openings – many organizations are facing an uncertain economic future. As a result, many have already instituted hiring freezes for the rest of this year. And these freezes mean that smaller organizations will face fewer competitor job postings. 
  • Fewer recruiters will mean that you can win more head-to-head competitions – even the “recruiting machine” corporations like Google, Apple, and Amazon have recently been dramatically reducing their recruiter headcount. So during this year-end. The remaining overworked corporate recruiters and recruiting support staff. Will likely only be able to provide a low level of expertise during side-by-side recruiting battles with other organizations.
  • Holiday hiring is better, faster, and cheaper – not only can you recruit better quality candidates during this time period, but your organization’s hiring managers will have a much lower workload. During the holiday, it will be easier for employed candidates to get time off to job search so your candidate interviews can be scheduled and completed much faster. And that will reduce your overall time to fill metric. In addition, realize that there are significantly fewer posted corporate job openings. Your holiday recruiting will be cheaper because you can successfully attract quality candidates with fewer and shorter-running job postings. 
  • Note: If you recruit globally – it’s important to realize that not everyone around the world celebrates Thanksgiving or Christmas. However, corporate managers in every country still go through end-of-the-year activities, which in most cases will still result in a significant reduction in the recruiting capability of global firms. 


2. Why there will be more available candidates this year

There are many reasons why recruiters will find an abundance of quality candidates available during the holidays in 2023.

  • Job security and inflation have created more active job seekers – now that pre-holiday layoffs have been mostly completed. Those who have been laid off or actively looking during the holidays. In addition, the fear of upcoming additional layoffs will cause many of the employees at major corporations to be open to a new position with better job security. And still, other employed individuals will be actively looking because their pay has not kept up with inflation. And a significant number of retirees will likely reenter the job market because of the same inflationary pressures.
  • Record turnover will continually add to the volume of available talent – the continuing” great resignation” will continue to add to the available candidate pool. Currently, 56 % of workers are open to searching for a new job. Incidentally, December usually has the highest turnover rate among those who quit after they fully qualify for their year-end bonuses
  • The forced return to the office mandate (RTO) will increase the candidate pool – with more companies (i.e., Apple, Amazon, Google, and Goldman Sachs) now mandating that their employees physically return to the office. More of those WFH employees who prefer this option will begin to actively look for new jobs. And with no boss literally “looking over their shoulder.” It is easier for these WFH individuals to conduct a job search.
  • A reduced emphasis on DEI will increase the number of diverse candidates – because some companies have recently been cutting back on their diversity initiatives. The number of diverse candidates who are considering a job switch away from their current company will continue to grow


3. Why the year-end time holiday period is always a great time to recruit

There are a number of reasons why December is always an excellent recruiting month. 

  • End-of-the-year rethinking causes many employees to re-examine their future – the best employees use the end of the year as an opportunity to rethink what they are doing and to plan for their future. And with a high likelihood of continued corporate and economic uncertainty. This year, a greater percentage of quality recruiting prospects will invariably be rethinking whether they want to spend another year in their current job, company, or industry. 
  • Their lower workload makes recruiting targets easier to contact – because of their lower year-end workloads. Employed job seekers have more time to answer recruiter inquiries and to job search. And because a good deal of this free employee time will be spent on social media. If your organization actively recruits on it. The currently employed will also have an improved chance during December of seeing, reading, and even responding to your recruiting content and messages.
  • December is always a great month for recruiting sales, retail, warehousing, and delivery – after Christmas, there are always significant layoffs among seasonal employees in retail, warehouse, and delivery employees. This release further increases the available candidate pool during late December.

Note: Holiday Hiring Is Only One Component Of “Right Time Recruiting”

Finally, it’s important to note the “holiday recruiting” approach that I am recommending here is but one element of the powerful but underused “right time” recruiting strategy, which emphasizes hiring at any time during the year when your recruiting competition is especially low. You can learn more about this broader recruiting strategy here.

If you only do one thing – during the first 10 business days of October. Track the number of new professional jobs that were posted by your top three competitors. Then, track the number of new professional job openings (omit seasonal jobs) that were posted during the 10 business days following Thanksgiving day. And don’t be surprised when you find a dramatic drop off in the number of new job postings by your corporate competitors. 

Final Thoughts

Everyone realizes that 2023 has been an extremely difficult year for producing great recruiting results. So why not end the year with a smashing recruiting month in December? Begin by realizing that recruiting is a head-to-head competition. So unless you have an employer brand like Google, Apple, or Amazon, realize that it’s time to convince your executives and recruiting leaders to purposely focus their recruiting during the months when the candidate volume is high and the recruiting competition is low. So today, while there is still time. Begin developing a data-driven holiday recruiting program that runs between the beginning of Thanksgiving week and New Year’s Day.

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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