HR Query

How to Take Advantage of the September Hiring Surge

In this week’s HR Query, Alice Rush, Career Advisor at the University of Phoenix, and Anthony Reynolds, Chief Executive Officer of HireVue, share insights about the hiring trends during this peak hiring season, as well as what HR leaders and organizations can expect to see through the remainder of the year.

Here’s what they had to say.

What is the September Surge?

AR: The September Surge refers to that time of year after Labor Day where we see increased hiring in September and October. It’s short lived, not quite two full months. It’s a big recruitment time for hiring because companies that were closed for summer months and vacation lulls are getting geared up for new initiatives in fall before year end, and companies that hire seasonally are ready to hire before the holidays.

What tips do you have for job seekers on how to polish up their resumes for best results right now?

Alice Rush: Recruiters recommend being clear and focused on what you’re applying for and not applying for everything. To be more thoughtful and targeted in your approach to getting hired is the way to go. Think about the industries you may want to work in. September Surge industries that hire the most are in hospitality and e-commerce. Think about your dream employers, who you want to work for. Then research their pain points and how you may be able to help them find solutions to their problems. Then start building relationships with people at those companies.

As one of my favorite networking instructors from writes, Austin Belcak, to paraphrase – “Your network is like a bank account. Don’t expect to get job help (withdrawal) from your contacts before you give to your contacts (deposits) something first.” These ‘deposits’ would be acts of giving to your network relationships. Brainstorm resources, articles, upcoming conference notification events in their field that may help them or compliment them on a provocative remark they were quoted saying in an article. This is the way most people land jobs through networking and relationship cultivation – surge or no surge.

How can job seekers optimize their LinkedIn profiles so that the algorithm presents their portfolio to companies who are hiring? 

Alice Rush: Follow companies you want to work for, it’s like a spotlight to recruiters you want to work for these companies. Make sure you also research a solid 5-10 job ads with the same job title and screen through the top 10 skills needed in common from the qualifications section, across all 5-10 job ads. These will be the most important skills to have endorsements for and skills you possess on your LinkedIn. It’s what we call your ‘core competencies’ for your profession and those are the skills the algorithm is looking for. Make sure you go to the qualifications section or the knowledge skills and abilities section for each job title and extract the skills overlap between all the 5-10 jobs with equal titles. If you don’t currently have the skills needed, consider taking courses online and obtaining digital badges to showcase you have skill competencies employers need the most.

What else can people do to get hired in September? 

Alice Rush: Reach out to old co-workers and bosses, people who have worked with you and for you, people who can vouch for your skills in high need areas. Ask to get together for coffee or a Zoom meeting with the goal to get their opinions on what employers they think are the best to apply for. They may have leads into these companies as well. If these are established connections, you’ll still want to give back to them but it’s a faster process in asking for favors during your job search process, such as, “Could you hand carry my resume over to the hiring manager, so it gets noticed?” You can ask this of a friend, someone you’ve worked with already, but not someone cold on LinkedIn until you’ve made those valuable relationship deposits.

If job seekers aren’t hired in September, is hiring typically still a big push in Oct-Dec, or not really? 

Alice Rush: The September Surge is said to be short lived and to not be complacent, get ready with your resume. Once November hits, there are still some employers who will hire, so my advice is to not give up (keep applying) but not to expect as many positions available after October. I will say however, I’ve had clients get job offers on Christmas Eve. So continue to apply of course and then be ready for the largest hiring growth expected for the month of January.

What are you seeing with current job market strength as we head into the September Surge?

Anthony Reynolds: While we’re certainly seeing some cooling in hiring for a few sectors, I remain optimistic that hiring overall is robust. We get to see up close how over 60% of the Fortune 100 and 8 of the 10 largest federal agencies are hiring, and the outlook still looks positive from here.

In the first half of the year, we saw incredible numbers coming out of our customer’s platform usage (below). This reflects the fact that the job market is still strong, there are great job opportunities available.

  • 10.5 million Interviews were taken
  • 3.4 million skills assessments were completed
  • 44% of interviews were completed on mobile devices
  • 50% of interviews took place after hours or on the weekends
  • 500,000 unique position types were created
  • From Q1 to Q2 we saw increases in interviews in these industries: healthcare (43%), education (33%), consumer goods (18%), government (17%) and retail (10%).

Is The Great Resignation over?

Anthony Reynolds: I’m going to go out on a limb here and contradict what a lot of brilliant folks are saying: the Great Resignation isn’t over. The truth is we’ve just gotten used to higher quit rates from workers who are unsatisfied and seeking better opportunities. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics May 2023 Turnover and Layoff Summary:

  • There are still 9.8 million job openings. 
  • The number of hires and total separations changed very little at 6.2 million and 5.9 million, respectively. 
  • Within separations, quits (4.0 million) increased, while layoffs and discharges (1.6 million) changed little. 

Remember when 4 million quits made all of us take pause? There aren’t signs of this slowing down–we’ve just gotten used to a baseline of higher quits. 

Resignations will continue, especially in hourly and high-volume roles, which is why our customers are leaning into always-on hiring campaigns built on text messaging, chatbot communications, and on-demand interviews.

Make no mistake, the Great Resignation and empowered labor go hand-in-hand. Workers today are much more likely to leave a bad job in search of a good one. And while we don’t have wage data from our customers, I can tell you anecdotally that we’ve seen persistently higher interviewing and position creation amongst our customers who offer higher hourly wages.

What do employers need to be thinking about with seasonal workers this time of year?

Anthony Reynolds: While we tend to speak of the workforce as a monolith, it’s important to remember that there are distinct demographics companies can and should tap into. Every year we help customers conduct massive seasonal campaigns, but companies need to stop thinking of these employees as temporary, rather they’re a reliable pool you can hire from season after season.  

Hiring teenagers was top of mind as I dug into data this quarter. We’re seeing interesting macro trends amongst this demographic that tells a story about our in-house numbers. 

An increasing number of teens are working– 33.6% of 16-19-year-olds are working this season, compared to 32.7% last year. They are a prime group for roles in leisure, hospitality, food, and beverage (industries that are still fighting to fill headcount). Consider this, in May to June this year, HireVue saw several industry increases in hourly, customer-facing roles and less non-hourly. Roles that are perfect for teens with variable schedules:

  • Retail (-5% in non-hourly roles)
  • Manufacturing (26% growth in hourly roles in June)
  • Food and beverage (17% growth in hourly roles)
  • Hospitality and Recreation (7% growth in hourly roles, -16% in non-hourly)

For companies looking for hourly, high-volume talent this means you have a massive opportunity with teens, but your processes better be up to par. Teens grew up in the digital age, and they have expectations for the hiring process; you have to text them and offer mobile-friendly solutions. And then you need to keep them engaged for the next season. Today’s summer warehouse help could be your next cyber security engineer.

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