There’s no perfect time to look for a job, but there are many seasonal trends and tips that can work in your favor across industries and within the job market. Every month will present a unique set of challenges and opportunities. If you’re planning to launch or continue a job search in September, here’s what you need to know to maximize your efforts and speed up the process.
1. You’re starting over
The summer job market, August in particular, is painfully slow. While you can still conduct a search during the summer, you are battling with the lack of proactive engagement and scheduling challenges that result from the vacation season. This all changes in September.
If you had the luxury to hold off on starting a job search until now, that’s a good thing. It has likely saved you a lot of frustration. If not, try your best to shake off any disappointments from the summer and reset. Know that your lack of or slow progress was circumstantial and not personal. Consider September the relaunch of your search.
In practical terms, that means you need to send out a fresh round of requests to connect in order to stay top of mind. Most of your well-meaning professional friends, recruiters and hiring managers remember you and your job search for a few weeks and then you fall off their radar.
During September, make a point to contact any relevant connections you haven’t checked in with lately. Mention that you enjoyed the end of your summer, but plan to get more serious about your job search going into the fall and would love to reconnect.
Granted, it’s tricky to know when your outreach will start to seem desperate or annoying. While each relationship is different, it is good practice to check in no more than three times in six months and space each contact (purely to check in) a minimum of three to four weeks apart.
This new round of activity may not produce leads in the first few weeks, but you want to make sure they remember your interest, and have your materials handy, as this much busier hiring season keeps ramping up.
2. You can’t afford to get distracted
The hiring push that happens in September and October will sharply decline mid to late November. A fall job search is a sprint and there is no time to have a slow start, get distracted or take breaks.
Most people conduct a job search while already employed and the autumn will probably be a busy time in your office. And, if you’re a parent, you may find that getting settled in the school year creates further strains on your time. September can be one of the most demanding months of the year already, before adding in the stress of job hunting.
However, if you are hoping to find a new and better job sooner instead of later, you need to get and stay serious about your efforts during the month of September. I can’t emphasize this enough: don’t miss this short and critical window before the holidays sneak up. Start strong and keep it going for the next two months.
Set a daily or weekly goal for your job search activities such as emails sent, companies and jobs researched or hours spent on your search.
If possible, avoid measuring progress by the number of job applications you submit. Online applying notoriously has a low application to interview rate so focusing your attention there might lead to a discouraging yield. For some skills and career levels, online applying can be effective but for many people, organic networking through trusted contacts or targeted research will produce better results.
Either way, hold yourself accountable to make your job search a priority in September.
3. It’s the beginning of the end
September kicks off a dogged focus by corporate leaders to accomplish whatever they can by the end of the year and to even start planning for the next one.
During your interviews, be sure to inquire about end-of-year initiatives or goals. Being able to articulate how you might hit the ground running to help get an important task over the finish line will deepen their interest in your candidacy and may accelerate your hiring process.
Listen for information about when key team-planning sessions are being held. The fall is a popular time for these sorts of meetings. Usually, they bring several important stakeholders together in the same location which can be advantageous for scheduling your interviews.
To gather this information in an early phone interview with the hiring manager, simply ask toward the end of the call if they have any offsites or planning sessions coming up; then, express interest in meeting team members during one of these, time permitting. They may or may not jump on this opportunity, but if they do, you’ll have the chance to make a more informed choice about the people you would be working with—and the company will probably get you a decision much faster. Either way, it will show an orientation toward thoughtful initiative on your part.
Finally, September is the best time to plan your networking calendar from now until the end of the year. Research relevant happy hours, speaker breakfasts and conferences coming up in the next two to three months. You can’t attend everything but make the most of your efforts by emailing hosts four to five days before your events and seeing if you can secure a list of participants. Then use LinkedIn to familiarize yourself with backgrounds and faces and come prepared to seek out the people you most want to meet or reconnect with.
All in all, September is one of the busiest months for networking and landing new jobs. Take advantage while you can.