It feels as if time has blurred during the pandemic. One day rolls into another, as you’re working from home. It’s Sunday and you’re still working. Since you’re trying to stay safe, might as well keep busy and get ahead of your tasks for the upcoming week. Without realizing it, the summer is ending. We’re heading into fall. The weather changes, and so does the job market.
Once September starts, you revert right back to your childhood school days. The slight chill in the air makes you feel different. It wakes you up. The change feels palpable. It’s the start of something new. There’s a collective sense that we have to shed our relaxed summer mood and get focused on our jobs and careers.
The job market works in cycles. During the Christmas, Hanukkah holiday season, hiring nearly comes to a halt, as we’re focusing on family, friends and taking time to enjoy ourselves. Traditionally, the first few weeks of January usher in the wave of hiring for the new year. There’s been a pent-up demand growing, as people have been on vacations and not in the mood or mindset to search for a new job.
It’s a similar experience in August and September. During August, people squeeze in their vacations and take some time off to relax, decompress and get mentally prepared for returning to reality.
The summertime interview process is clunky and slow. There are lots of starts and stops, due to vacation schedules. What usually happens is that a candidate is asked to interview, but the hiring manager is on vacation. When she returns, the human resources person is on the beach. When she returns, the job applicant is on his annual family trip to Disneyland.
Now that it is September, the wheels start turning again. The same way there was pent-up demand due to the holiday season, this occurs in September too. Managers anxiously call their human resources representatives and demand, “Where are all the candidates?” Since there was little hiring during August, her staff needed to put in extra hours to compensate for the people who left the company for other opportunities elsewhere. The human resources person tries to explain that there is a war for talent happening and it’s not easy to find people with relevant experience. Both the talent acquisition professional and hiring manager are frustrated.
Under the gun, the company places job ads, has their internal recruiters and sources scour LinkedIn for potential candidates and ask internal employees if they know anyone who might be interested in coming aboard. There’s a sense of urgency. This September, in particular, will be challenging. There is a high demand to hire people, but it’s hard to do so. If someone is happy in their job, given that we’re still in a pandemic and concerned about the Delta variant and other new possible strains, they’ll say, “Thanks, but no thanks,” to an offer and add, “Feel free to contact me down the road when the situation gets better.”
There are challenges associated with this time period. White-collar professionals anticipate a bonus in or around January. In some sectors, such as Wall Street, bonuses comprise a big chunk of their overall compensation. For example, a person who earns $150k may receive a $20-30k bonus. The company now faces a conundrum: should they buy out the bonus and write a $30k check to compensate the person for the bonus they’re leaving behind? If they don’t, the applicant won’t move.
It’s a tough call. An experienced person would give at least two weeks’ notice. Oftentimes, they’ll need three or four weeks to hand off all of their responsibilities and to take some much-needed time off in between jobs. This brings us to October. The company will have to fork over $30k for a person only working about three months. Many companies will demure, and figure, “We waited this long, we’ll wait a little longer.” This is one of the difficulties hiring during the September to December time period.
We also have to factor in the fast-moving Delta variant. The August jobs report was very disappointing and discouraging. Only 235,000 jobs were added in August, as experts predicted it would be around 720,000 . It seems, from the data, that the Delta variant took its toll on hiring, as potential workers and companies were concerned about the uncertainty surrounding the virus outbreak.
The jobs report indicated an increase of about 400,000 in those who said they couldn’t work for pandemic-related reasons, pushing the total up to 5.6 million. Some of the reasons for the lack of hiring include heightened health risks associated with the virus and talk of possible new strains of Covid-19, concerns over finding childcare, not knowing if public schools will remain open and enhanced government benefits.
We’ve also seen an unprecedented change in the way people view work. Over 4 million Americans quit their jobs in the “Great Resignation” trend. People are reevaluating what they want in a job and career. Job seekers desire opportunities that offer fulfillment and meaning. They are quick to quit if they’re dissatisfied and taking their time to find the right fit.
Despite some of the difficulties, if you are contemplating getting a new job, now is a good time to start. Start by speaking with your boss to discuss your career goals and ambitions. Depending upon her answers, you may need to start looking. Take a fresh new look at your résumé and LinkedIn profile. Get in touch with recruiters in your space. Practice and perfect your elevator pitch. Be mentally and emotionally prepared for a bit of a bumpy ride.