Is Christmas a Good or Bad Time to Hire?

by Rich DeMatteo on October 9, 2013 · 6 comments

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Depending on your industry and objectives, there are both pros and cons to hiring over the holidays.

If you’re in retail or hospitality, then hiring for summer is a necessity, mostly for part-time and casual staff. For these businesses though, waiting to advertise, let alone hire, over Christmas is probably too late, with most recruitment drives taking place in October and November to cater for these busy periods.

If you’re in the corporate sector or recruiting permanent employees, looking for new staff on the lead-up to Christmas can be problematic. According to the ANZ Job advertising survey, December sees a dramatic fall in jobs being advertised, which probably accounts for the common perception among job seekers that it’s a bad time to look. This could be a good thing for smaller companies that don’t want to compete with the big boys, but it also means that you’re fishing in a smaller pool of talent.

One advantage is that there are a large number of new graduates around if you’re looking to train staff from scratch. However, graduating students who have not already secured a position or internship in the March recruitment drive often use the November/December period for a much-needed holiday, and resume their job hunting in the new year. So if it’s graduates you’re after, it’s probably best to go direct through university career departments rather than relying on general advertising.

Hiring before the holidays also has some logistical problems. Most non-retail businesses are winding down their activities and delaying any new initiatives until the new year. Hire in December and you also risk not having the personnel around to train and utilise your new staff members. New recruits may feel uninspired by the lack of action on the work front, and when you return from your Christmas holiday you could find a resignation letter instead of a newly fired-up employee.

You will also be paying your new staff for public holidays in what is often a low revenue time of year for many businesses. However, if you manage a new hire properly, then a low demand time can be well utilised for training and development while the pressure is off.

Overall, research shows that new hiring picks up in January and peaks in March, then plateaus until the December drop. There is a degree of market reflection in this, as hiring often matches business revenues and workload. Unless you are recruiting to meet seasonal needs, the Christmas period probably isn’t an ideal time to hire.

Adam Blanch is a Sydney-based consultant, speaker and writer specialising in the psychology of business and workplace diversity. He holds advanced degrees in psychology and has 20 years’ experience as a small business operator. Adam would secretly like to be a famous opera singer, which can be a problem for those he shares an office with. For more recruitment advice visit Robert Half Recruitment Sydney.


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