The end of summer is nearly here and on October 1st comes the beginning of Q4. Happy autumn!
Summer tends to be a time when offices shift to flex hours. Employees take time off to holiday and businesses move to a more relaxed schedule. Getting hired is still quite a possibility in the summer, but hiring managers generally feel less of an urgency to fill vacant positions. This is especially true for jobs in academia - think design, communications, editorial - as school's operate on an August-to-August calendar year. So if summer slowed your expectations to change jobs or if it yielded less contact with prospective employers than you hoped for, Q4 will likely provide you with happy returns.
What the Fourth Quarter Means to Employers
At this point in the year, businesses are beginning preparations for the holidays and for the next year. This is a time when strategies begin to change: Advertisers compete for the attention of the same customers (and the costs of ads, their subsequent clicks, and average checkout rates skyrocket accordingly), companies compare their year-over-year earnings to assess sales forecasts and performance, costs of services, product offerings, and insurance are tallied, and new budgets are prepared.
If you want to stay clued in as to what hiring might be expected to look like in public companies, check out their earnings reports, released at the beginning of each quarter. Private companies don't sell public stock and aren't required to announce their earnings, making this strategy relevant mostly to public companies.
The Budget Determines Everything
One of the keys to hiring in the fourth quarter is the budget. What you might not realize about the budget is that, typically, if a company does not use up all of its budget in a calendar year, it will likely see a reduced budget in the following year due to the money left unused in Q4. Another neat piece of information you might not know is that companies receive federal tax deductions for several hiring expenses. Some of these include posting online job ads, hosting industry networking events, and the Work Opportunity Tax Credit. So while you might think that now is a time to let up as the holidays are around the corner and companies will be distracted by the blitz, don't stop!
Time is on your side
Now that we've unraveled the myth of fourth quarter hiring freezes, we'd be doing you a disservice to not mention that once all of the financial details are settled, companies begin planning for the start of the next calendar year by October. Management teams begin to "refine their vision, mission, and strategy", consulting firm Gilroy Associates notes. This begins to trickle out to other teams, new products and markets are identified, and more workers are suddenly needed. Rather than waiting until the beginning of the first quarter of the next calendar year, bringing someone new on board earlier is a huge win for a company.
It allows ample time for new employees to be comfortable to contribute and competent in the company's service and culture. Additionally, the slow-downs during November and December holidays offer prime time for training new employees.
Take advantage of the myths
Given the widespread misunderstandings about Q4 we've highlighted, it probably won't surprise you that many job seekers fall into the idea that switching jobs or getting hired is unlikely at this time of year. While we wish they wouldn't lose hope, this does provide an excellent opening for you to get ahead of the competition for interviews and positions. The start of the first quarter typically finds employers sifting through a deluge of résumés that they may have trouble devoting equal attention to. This makes September through December a good time to keep your bearings and knuckle down in your search and applications.
Finally, even if a company is not planning to hire at this time, the lighter load of applications makes the fourth quarter a wonderful time to make yourself known to prospective employers, to network at holiday parties, and to look ahead to what next year might bring.
Creatives are well-positioned to ride the hiring trends we're seeing in Q4 2019 and the start of next year. Emotional intelligence, creativity, and technical skills are in-demand. If things happen to slow down during this season, take advantage of the down time to learn new skills, widen your frame of reference with visits to new galleries or viewings of new creative content, and work on side projects to grow your portfolio. Here's to a happy, successful fourth quarter!
With warm regards