When is the best time to recruit?  Ideally you want to be recruiting when lots of good candidates are available, paying attention and willing to talk to you.  You also want to be recruiting when your competition is NOT actively trying to recruit the same people you are.   So when do you find that ideal combination of events?

During the December holidays you have fewer employers to compete with, but you also have fewer candidates looking.   That usually makes holidays a “wash” – you can still recruit, but you have no special advantage.  But there is a time when the odds are definitely in your favor.

The “golden recruiting window” is the first three weeks of January. 

On the candidate side:  You have lots of job seekers who took a bit of time off for the holidays.  Perhaps they spent time with family and complained about their job.  Perhaps on a long car trip they reflected on what they really wanted from their careers and concluded their current job did not provide the challenge or stimulation they need.  I’m not exactly sure why it happens, but I do know that every year a huge number of incredibly well qualified people come on the job market in early January.  They make a decision to consider new opportunities.  Some people even make a New Year’s resolution to get a new job.

On the employer side:  Many employers gear up their hiring in January.  Some firms have fresh new annual budget money to spend.  But most managers are swamped in December and put off until January all the nitty gritty tasks like writing a job description, or getting internal approvals signed off.   This administrivia delays the beginning of their recruiting process until late January, and sometimes February.

That leaves a golden recruiting window in January with lots of motivated candidates who are newly “on the market” – or at least available for a conversation – and very few employers who are talking with them yet.

So if you want a gorgeous, motivated candidate pool, with relatively little competition from other companies, get your act together in early December, and launch your recruiting initiatives right on January 1.   If you run a fast clean hiring process, you can be making job offers before your competition has even started recruiting.