In 1971 the rock legend Rod Stewart introduced a whole generation of college students to his classic song “Maggie May.” Who could forget the opening lines of “Wake up, Maggie I think I got something to say to you. It’s late September and I really should be back at school?” It’s a line of the song that resonates through my head every year at this time because it signals a period of renewal -- whether going back to school, looking for a new job, or re-evaluating other parts of our lives.
Mr. Stewart claimed Maggie (not her real name) was “an older woman” and his first love as a young lad. Being mesmerized by this first encounter was, as the song goes, “a kick in the head” when the reality sunk in that she had no further interest in him, and he better be off to school if he wants to make something out of his life. As late September is now upon us we could use that “kick in the head” to face the challenges still ahead of us. You might say, our symbolically going back to school.
If becoming a rock legend is not in the stars for you, but landing a new job or making a career switch is, there is no better time than the fall. If you’ve been job searching for most of 2017 without much success, and getting out of bed with that “kick in the head” feeling, don’t despair. Many job hunters think the period following Labor Day is a slow one, and companies won’t start hiring until after the New Year, but they couldn’t be more mistaken.
Companies may not be filling jobs between now and the end of the year, but they are gearing up for the period following New Year’s Day -- a period where some of the biggest spikes in hiring take place. What is happening now is the planning and budgeting for positions to be filled in 2018. So what better time than the period between Labor Day and New Year’s to mount an active job search to position you as the candidate of choice?
The biggest spike in hiring takes place right after New Year's Day
In a past job as corporate recruiter for a financial services company I worked with one of the company’s directors in filling a much needed financial analyst’s position. After a long and arduous search the director became increasingly frustrated in not finding the “right” person. Knowing he would lose his budget for this job by year end if not filled, he panicked and said he would hire anyone I referred to him. Against my better judgement, I went along with his decision to hire a person we had previously screened out, less he lose the job itself.
In the end, the selected candidate worked out fine (I guess you could say luck of the draw) but not a course of action I would recommend. It made me realize how advantageous it would have been if this hiring manager had met people who reached out to him through networking or direct contact during the course of the year. And how advantageous for the person who didn’t sit idly thinking companies simply aren’t hiring at this time of year.
So if you’ve got that “kick in the head” feeling and don’t want to as the song also says “steal my Daddy’s cue and make a living at playing pool,” use this time of year to identify and reach out to potential hiring managers to make their lives easier, and not be the luck of the draw as in the case of my hiring manager. We know these odds are not very good!