It sounds antithetical, but it’s true – hiring in the final months of the year can be a rewarding option. Why? There are many reasons, notwithstanding the fact that better candidates are generally available.
Think about it, when do companies lay off good employees and contractors due to budget constraints? September, October, November, and December. They’ve reached the end of their budget cycles, or they’ve completed projects, and they are ready to shed good, hard-working consultants and contractors. These are the cream of the crop in some cases; the project-based staff that is difficult to let go.
Your plan of attack to scoop up these rare gems before the hiring frenzy picks up again in January must be organized and well-managed to succeed.
Here are 5 simple hiring tips to get you started:
1. Start with achievable job requirements
Let your job description do the work for you. Don’t settle for the same boring list of responsibilities and requirements. Instead, pack up the responsibilities section with rewarding tasks that come across as development opportunities for would-be hires. Be sure to lessen the load on the requirements side to avoid falling into the trap of seeking someone who simply doesn’t exist. Jane in IT services may have had Angular, Jira, and Puppet skills, but she spent the past 5 years learning them, so why try to replace her at the same bill rate? Be realistic with your expectations.
2. Strategize your interview logistics
Too often, the interview process is an afterthought. Be proactive by delegating the responsibility to the most organized member of your team. Establish an interview schedule before you even begin reviewing resumes to ensure there are no surprises due to vacation and holiday schedules. Consider a smaller interview team instead of the usual 5-6 people, because really, when was the last time 5-6 people on your team actually agreed on something?
3. Keep it local
Consider increasing your chances of landing a quality candidate who is more likely to accept your offer by only interviewing local candidates initially, including referrals. Be careful here, if your local candidate works for a big company with deep pockets and their reason for leaving is the commute, they are likely to receive a counteroffer, which may include 100% remote work. Have a backup candidate if this is the case.
4. Ask for referrals
Don’t only rely on your HR department and agencies to find candidates, reach out to co-workers for referrals. Referrals should actually be your first source for candidates, because you are likely to pay less and receive a longer term commitment from the contractor or employee in the long run. If you are lucky enough to have a managed staffing service onsite with your company, you may save tens of thousands of dollars in fees thanks to your payroll markup (MSPs offer a payroll markup, which is many percentage points less because recruiting costs are lessened when working with referrals).
5. Move quickly before the January hiring frenzy begins
Just to be safe, make your offer as soon as a qualified candidate is identified. This will reduce the chances of having to compete with everyone in January. In addition, be sure to provide feedback for candidates not selected to optimize the quality of your brand in the local marketplace. Remember, word of mouth is a very powerful force which cannot easily be identified, even with today’s powerful analytics tools.
In summary, remember to present achievable requirements to the marketplace, be proactive with your interview schedule, keep it local, and move quickly. You may be surprised at the quality of candidates you are seeing, and your boss will appreciate your business savvy as well.
Nick Mangano is an onsite program manager for one of Yoh’s largest clients in Pennsylvania. He has more than 10 years of experience working with top tier suppliers to place IT, engineering, and creative professionals in a wide variety of roles.