Welcome to the new year! The period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day has important implications for job candidates as businesses work out their budgets and build roadmaps for projects to be tackled in the first half of the impending year. Now that the Christmas tree has been taken out to compost and those businesses are ready to put their plans into action, it’s time to start getting serious about your job hunt in 2020.
Contrary to popular belief, December is not a bad time to look for a job. Many companies get an early jump on hiring during the holidays and try to fill roles during the first couple weeks of the month. If those efforts aren’t successful, they may drag their feet well into January as employees return from vacation and workflows are reestablished. So don’t feel like you have to blitz job boards with a flood of resumes on January 1st. Still, by mid-month, you’ll want to start ramping up. Companies will likely be under increasing pressure to fill headcount as the first couple months of the year slip by. And that’s the wave you should look to ride.
Here are some specific things to know about finding a job at the beginning of the calendar year, along with some hiring trends for 2020:
New Year, New Budgets, New Projects, New Jobs
Companies put their hiring budgets into action once January kicks in, but they’re not the only ones looking ahead. Existing employees also tend to take stock of where they’re at in their work lives, which can mean a rethink of their career goals and current roles. The psychology of the new year can thus create additional opportunities as workers move from job to job and company to company, leaving behind yet more roles that need to be filled.
This makes it even more important to use your network and build connections with colleagues. If you’re lucky, they might be in a position to tip you off about an impending opening. You may also be able to help them if they are interested in a role at one of your former employers and are looking for insight on the company culture. Even if they’re happy in their role and not planning any job transitions at the moment, they may have the inside scoop about new budgets and headcounts, and thus may be able to steer you in a potentially fruitful direction.
Another potentially advantageous aspect of job hunting early in the year is the variety of jobs companies are trying to hire for during that time frame. With fresh new headcount and a full year ahead, some employers look to fill big shoes and longstanding openings, which means you theoretically have a great chance at landing something with long-term employment potential. Meanwhile, while businesses tend to hire more short-term help or temporary workers during the holidays, those types of positions may also become available as contractors move onto other gigs and quarterly budgets are used to fill hiring gaps.
One more thing to pay attention to: the kind of businesses to which you are applying. Depending on what industry they’re in, some companies might be more or less interested in hiring specifically during the early part of the year. Tax accounting firms, for instance, might already be slammed and in a more execution-oriented phase, which means they might be in need of contract workers to get them over the hump. Educational institutions and colleges, on the other hand, could be ramping up administration for impending admissions the following year. Again, use your network to find out what you can about where different businesses are in their hiring phases.
Trends for 2020
Here are a few things about finding a job this year to keep in mind as you dive back into your job search:
The power of AI
Understaffed companies and busy, distracted hiring managers are everywhere at the start of 2020, and businesses are increasingly relying on time-saving automated programs and algorithmic solutions to match candidates to job openings. Those algorithms go beyond resumes and look at your entire online presence to assess how active you are in discussions related to the work at hand. Actively cultivate chats, side projects, and social media to convey your enthusiasm for your chosen line of work and you’ll boost your chances of getting noticed by the robots.
Freelance to build new skills
In 2020, companies want to hire people with the potential to wear more than one hat. A great developer is useful, but a great developer who also knows how to do tech writing and documentation is even better. So regardless of whether you’re looking for temp work or a more permanent gig, consider the benefits of gaining new skills and stretching out your network to find freelance opportunities which broaden your appeal.
Potential over experience
With unemployment rates at historic lows, employers are no longer just looking for perfect fits. Many large companies like Amazon and Microsoft are investing heavily in worker training as they increasingly look for people who fit the culture and have soft skills like good communication and a creative approach to solving problems. Once you land an interview, learn as much as possible about the company and the people who will interview you to give yourself the best chance of seeming like the kind of person with whom they’d like to work.
Written by Matthew Cooke