Answer: While most hiring managers think their timetable to complete a search is unique, it is subject to the realities of when decision-makers have time to complete the process and extend an offer. There really is a cycle. To be in step with that process and anticipate what you need to do to maintain and even expedite the rhythm of the cycle, here is what to expect during the year. Since we are in the last quarter of 2017, I will begin with advice to wrap up this year. I will then focus on the annual recruiting cycle that begins in January.
CALENDAR – Fall Season, Sept. Oct. Nov. Dec.
EVENTS – Labor Day week, Columbus Day, Thanksgiving, Holiday Season in December
The fall quarter is the second wave of active recruiting (January through June is the first). This is when searches that were delayed by summer holidays can be completed, if there are serious candidates already under consideration. There is a very small window from the week after Labor Day until Thanksgiving when there is time for interviewing semi-finalists and determining which one or two will receive an offer. The offer then must be negotiated, terms agreed upon, put in into an offer letter and accepted. Most likely the starting date will be the first week of the New Year.
Early in this quarter is also when new searches begin. However, a reasonable timetable about what can be accomplished must take into consideration how few business days are available for recruiting activities. Other corporate priorities such as trade shows, internal meetings and business travel to complete before the holidays, leave limited time to take on additional projects. Realistically, only the first round of interviews can be scheduled before the holidays. There is usually some time in the first week of December for business appointments. After that, offices empty out as senior officers take vacation from mid-December through the New Year. Restarting a search will wait until Mid-January when the hiring cycle begins again.
To accomplish as much as can be scheduled in this short timeframe, anticipate what you can do to provide scheduling information. If you have vacation days that you can be available for interviews, let the hiring organization know. If you will be on vacation or out of town, provide those details as soon as you know you are interested in the position, after the first round of interviews.
Have all the information you might be asked to provide ready, e.g. complete compensation history, references and documentation confirming your earnings level (needed for an offer to be accepted). Provide a phone number and have that phone with you specifically for job-related calls or texts so that you are immediately available.
Do ask the hiring organization about their timetable for the search during the holidays. They may explain that they will pause after a certain date or that they have made a special effort to clear time for interviews in December. All of that is reasonable to ask and will help the hiring organization and you in organizing your holiday schedule.
Once you begin the holiday season serious job hunting pauses and it is time for social appointments, catching up with colleagues, attending trade and professional association meetings. Begin scheduling those get-togethers prior to Thanksgiving. Business cards are always appropriate as are personal follow-up notes where you might mention that you will touch base in the New Year.