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How Seasonal Conditions Affect Hiring

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With the recession growing smaller and smaller in America’s rear-view-mirror, the deep hiring freeze that once encompassed so many companies has begun to thaw, or in some cases, melt away completely. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the jobless rate fell in 39 states last month and payroll jobs increased in 30 states. It’s definitely not the Roaring 20’s, but we all know that things could be a lot worse.

But this is all pretty general. What about your company?

Did you come through the last few years by the seat of your pants or have you actually seen some growth despite all of the economic adversity?

Did your staffing levels go unchanged throughout the recession or did you have to cut back your staff substantially?

Whether you’re interested in expanding your staff  or just want to get things running a little more smoothly, I’ll be going over some of the seasonal conditions to consider before you make your next hire.

First, lets look at the big picture. Just like most everything else in the world, hiring goes through ebbs and flows. This relates heavily to the economy (as you’re all well aware), but also to more consistent, predictable factors like when the most people tend to take their vacations. These seasonal hiring trends aren’t the rules that you should base your hiring decisions on (that will get you about as far as only hiring for Marketing in March or Finances in February), but they definitely do have an effect on the job market.

The first hiring peak occurs in Q1, usually right after people return from the winter holidays. People like to start the year out strong and it’s a time when hiring demand often exceeds the supply of qualified candidates in most industries.

In Q2, there is generally an increase in hiring activity, but this is usually for companies that depend on fair weather for their business. That’s why, in the spring and early summer, the hospitality industry goes through their largest hiring season.

Things slow down in Q3 due to the high percentage of people taking vacations in the summer months. Those of you who have worked with Europeans will be familiar with this summer shutdown as business people take entire months off to bask in the sun somewhere else in the world.

Hiring demand in Q4 is highly industry dependent. Retailers and other companies that see an influx of business during the holidays will engage in heavy seasonal hiring at this time. Professionals services (finance, business services), however, see some of the slowest hiring at this time.

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