Conquent: Without Limits
Conquent: Without Limits
Kristen Fife's Blog

Timing: When To Apply For A New Job

2017-10-09 13:03:05

I'm evaluating a lot of resumes these days from Master's candidates that are applying to our early-career positions. I've also got friends and resume clients that have been facing layoffs or contracts ending. The common theme for these two types of candidates? Timing.

For those students that are trying to line up full time jobs after graduation, it is absolutely vital to understand how corporate recruiting works. Large companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Boeing, Starbucks, IBM, Apple, Facebook, etc. have what are known as Campus Recruiting programs. They have entire teams dedicated to attending job fairs at schools, or at the very least working with school career centers to hire candidates for ongoing entry-level positions. But smaller companies often don't have campus recruiting programs; they hire entry level candidates when they have the opportunity (either a backfill, meaning someone has left the company or because they have enough staff to help mentor a new graduate). Why is it important to understand the difference in large and small company hiring practices?

*Campus recruiters are hiring for a future need, with a long timeline. They know there will be open positions available when the student graduates and is ready. Smaller companies are hiring *tactically* meaning they are looking for someone to start more immediately (usually within 8 weeks or less.)

What this means is that students that are not graduating until, say, January or June should not be disappointed if they apply to a job in August or February (respectively) and get a rejection from smaller companies.

How can you figure out if a company is hiring tactically? There are a couple of steps you can take. Ask your career center if a company of interest has a relationship with your school. Look on LinkedIn to see if the company has anyone listed as a "Campus Recruiter" for their title. Call/email the company and ask for the HR/Recruiting department.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is the more seasoned career professional that knows their job will be ending on a specific date. It is a reality of business that often companies will have layoffs and slow hiring in their 4th quarter (whether it aligns with the calendar year or not). If you are facing a layoff during Q4, you need to know that most companies start slowing their hiring in November and December, so you want to get your job search jump started sooner rather than later.

In 2009 locally, Microsoft did a massive layoff (several thousand people.) Most employees got a really generous severance package. One of the biggest mistake a lot of those affected employees did was wait months to start their job search (the recession was in full swing). In 2014, they also did a clean up of their HR/Recruiting department. Smart employees started their searches within a few weeks. Especially in the case of the HR layoffs, many employees waited until their severance packages were running out before starting their search, but guess what? With such a glut on the market, many companies filled their positions immediately, and a lot of them opened headcount (positions) earlier than projected to take advantage of the high quality candidates on the market. The result: the early birds caught the worms, and those that waited often found themselves unemployed for a LOT longer than they anticipated.

The same rationale applies to contractors. If you know your contract is ending on a specific date, or even within a general time frame, and you *need* to keep employed, don't wait until AFTER you finish your contract to start looking. The average recruiting lifecycle in a healthy economy is roughly 6-8 weeks (for most "generalist" positions) from the time a position is opened until someone is hired. One of the biggest mistakes contractors make is not starting their search early enough; at the latest, start your seach two weeks before you know your contract is due to complete, especially for full-time positions.

Like most thing in life, timing is everything. Finding a new job is no different.

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