Friday, November 25, 2011

Holidays Are The Best Time To Interview

In my thirty years of recruitment, many candidates felt that attempting to interview during the Holiday season was a waste of time. They learned while working with me that it can be a very productive time to interview.

During my interview on Park City TV (!), we discussed the reasons why this is the best time to interview.

1) Many companies have a new budget on January 1st. This means that new positions open in the new budgets. Over the past couple of years, hiring managers have been conditioned that they will lose openings if they wait too long to interview and hire employees. Therefore they are motivated to interview and hire.
2) They will interview candidates in December; and start the selected candidates in the first or second week of January within the new budget.
3) Generally people feel generous and warmer during the Holidays. Consequently while still probing the candidate’s experience, the manager potentially will be more cordial.

If candidates decide to interview during this period, the best way to meet the hiring managers is to network their way to meet them.

Identify the companies who need their skills and for whom they want to work. Then network their way into them. Typically 74 to 76% of all jobs are filled through networking and somewhere between 8 and 10% are filled through the Internet job boards and corporate websites.

Understand the foundation of networking. Successful networking involves give and take. Therefore it is important to help the person who is helping you. Ask your friends/acquaintances if they know someone working at the target companies. If so, would they give you contact information to reach them? When you call that person, mention that your friend mentioned they would be either a great contact in that company or a great person to meet someone in that company. Ask “When is a good time to chat that fits into your schedule?” Once you chat with them about your experience and what you want to do next, ask them who would be the best person to talk with next? Then ask if there is anything you can do for them. If people feel you are willing to help them, they will be more willing to help you.

Don’t be the opera singer warming up – you’ve seen them at “networking events” like Chamber after hours. They run from person to person collecting cards and singing “me, Me, Me, MEEEE!”

An example of successful Holiday interviewing is this story. My professional recruitment career began in Washington, DC. After a few years, my best client was Comsat Labs. Typically they were looking for very technical candidates. One of my candidates was a woman working in Baltimore and looking for a challenging position in Washington, DC or suburban Maryland. After my phone screen the week before Christmas, the hiring manager at Comsat was very interested in meeting her.

Since Patti had to drive past Comsat on Christmas Eve to go home in Virginia, I suggested we set up the interview for that morning.

Patti interviewed all morning and it went well on both sides. The hiring manager told her they had a little pot luck lunch to celebrate the holiday; and invited Patti to stay for that hour and meet the staff. She accepted. During lunch, the hiring manager polled the morning interviewers. Right before she left, the hiring manager asked her to come into his office. He wished her a safe trip and a nice holiday. Then he extended an offer. She called me Christmas night to accept. She started the second Monday in January.