Many recruiters and managers look at December as “down time” for recruiting. But in my experience, it’s often just an excuse that recruiters use to get some relaxation time, rather than a reflection of any real difficulty in recruiting. In fact, if you are creative, the December holiday season is an excellent time to recruit. 11 Reasons for Holiday Season Recruiting
- No competition. While everyone else is relaxing or browsing online stores for those last few gifts, you might find that you are the only recruiter actively seeking candidates in December. December is a slow business period for many non-retail and travel-related industries; some even close down for the two-weeks that include Christmas and New Years Day. Many employees who accrue paid time off for working overtime throughout the year use this month to draw down their PTO or use up their excess vacation because they lose it by year end. During this period of relaxation, it’s an opportune time to catch the competition napping. Yes, there are a scarcity of recruiting events, but you probably shouldn’t be wasting your time at these events anyway. The people you should be looking for are probably still at the their desks!
- Budgets. Because many companies don’t budget their positions well, they are unable to recruit during December because they have run out of headcount until new budgets take effect January 1. If your firm has been more efficient at budgeting open positions, you can take advantage of your leftover budget resources by actively recruiting during this time period while others are inactive.
- Plan ahead. If you’re clever, you will realize that you don’t actually need budget funds or an open requisition to begin the recruiting process. If your budget cycle begins on January 1 you should actively begin recruiting candidates in December, in anticipation of the budget release that will come in January. Yes, there are some risks in recruiting without approved requisitions. But the worst that can happen (if budgets and headcounts are not released) is that you will have built relationships with top candidates and developed a prescreened candidate pool for use later.
- Frustrated candidates may be eager to move. Top performers and project managers are often frustrated in December. Individuals who work for companies that are in a no-growth mode may have had projects, hiring, and budgets frozen for much of the past year. When new budgets are announced in December, their frustration can intensify dramatically when they realize that they will be no funding for new and exciting projects during the next budget year. Smart recruiters take advantage of these frustrations and offer individuals new opportunities to work on fully funded projects.
- Candidates are sitting around and have time. Many people take time off during December, and as a result few committees bother to meet and many projects are essentially in suspended animation. All combined, the circumstances make it easy for candidates to find available time to interview, and few managers question their intentions when employees do take significant time off to interview. During the Christmas-to-New Year’s facility shutdown period, many more employees have free time to interview.
- Globally speaking, not everyone celebrates. Companies that practice global recruiting realize that not all countries celebrate Christmas as we do in the U.S. Because of this fact, it’s essential that you continue to recruit in the geographic regions where others don’t slow down their efforts.
- Recruit on the slopes. Many companies have come to realize that recruiting college students in vacation areas during spring break can be quite effective. Why not beat them to the punch by recruiting at resort areas during the winter break, when college students are playing? The obvious advantages include no competition, as well as the fact that you get them three months before your competitors who recruit only during the spring. But don’t stop with college recruiting. Successful managers and top performers have both the resources and the flexibility to take time off during the winter also. Recruiting at ski lodges and vacation resorts can be both rewarding and a lot of fun.
- Recruit at the mall. Cisco, long known for its creativity, once sent a team of recruiters to wrap packages at a popular mall. What seemed on the surface to be a PR gesture (wrapping holiday packages for a fee that went to charity) was in fact a great branding and recruiting strategy. Great recruiters go where the candidates are, and during the holiday season most candidates go shopping at some point. By placing recruiters in the mall, you can increase your visibility, catch candidates “off guard,” and have an opportunity to capture business cards and chat informally with potential candidates while you wrap their packages. And in case you didn’t know it, “passive event” recruiting is one of the highest ROI recruiting tools on the planet.
- Fewer active job seekers. Many of the less desirable “active job seekers” are inactive during the holiday season. They assume no one is looking, so they don’t flood organizations with resumes. This reduced volume of resumes and calls can free up your time to focus on identifying the people who you really want and to focus on the employed top performer.
- Holiday invitations. Because everyone is in a celebratory mood, potential candidates are generally more willing to accept a luncheon invitation during the holiday season. You can also invite “friends” to the companies Christmas party as a recruiting strategy. Meeting and mingling with your team during informal events might turn out to be your best selling tool.
- Greeting cards. Smart recruiters use the greeting card tradition to further build already established relationships. Sending potential candidates greeting cards is an excellent way to remind them that you are still interested in them. A follow-up recruiting call is more likely to be accepted after they have received a greeting card from you.
Of course, there are some real downsides to recruiting during the holiday season. Because many people take time off, it’s a little more difficult to find top performers and managers if they are away from the job. But if you do find them, the chances of them answering a phone call or email are much greater during this period. Potential candidates may be distracted by holiday events and shopping, but the large holiday bills might also make them more eager to seek better paying opportunities. From a recruiter’s perspective, it is also hard to get your own managers to schedule time for interviewing recruits. But on the positive side, because they are not doing much, if they do come in to the office, it is relatively easy to get on their calendars. Because others don’t recruit during this period, it’s easy to follow the crowd and shut down your efforts as well. Strategically, however, that’s a mistake. The best time to recruit is when others are idle. This is even more true if you are a lesser-known organization that has little success when recruiting side-by-side with better-known competitors. It’s time to seize the opportunity and take advantage of others idleness. Start your winter recruiting campaign today!