It's all about TIMING - Recruitment Timeline Overview

The economy has been improving in the last few years, which means that the job market has been getting better.  Even though companies may be looking to hire continuously, the truth is, there are better times to make a move than others. Recruitment is very strategic and rhythmic; job seekers should also take this into consideration and be sure to follow the flow. I'll talk about what the timeline looks like from the recruiting perspective. 


Q1 (January - March)

Q1 is always a big quarter, especially in recruiting industry level candidates. This past Q1, I personally had about 7 friends interview, get job offers, and make the move (about half of them ended up moving up to the Bay Area).  

Industry candidates: Q1 is a great time to kick off your job search because companies often forecast at the beginning of the year, and designate headcount for the remainder of the year. Recruitment efforts are at full blast, so take advantage of this! 

New grads & interns: if you haven't started on your search for a summer internship, you better get on it fast! This is also a busy season for intern recruitment, since most companies will finalize their interns by the end of this quarter (latest), though the strongest interns will have something lined up already at the end of the previous year. New grads should get on it as well (see Q4 section). 

International candidates: If you are an international candidate and want to move to the US, you should be in your interviewing process in the early part of the year (because all paperwork needs to be submitted by April 1st). Some companies have long, extensive interviewing processes, so get started early (see Q4 section). If the company is nimble and can move fast, they should be able to get things done in Q1. 

Note: I've found that if you are relocating, rent does tend to spike up around this time (especially in Bay Area). Just something to keep in mind. Actually, 3 out of the 4 companies that I've worked at all started in Q1! 


Q2 (April - June)

For industry candidates,  Q2 is still a busy season for hiring. I find that the beginning of Q2 is just as busy recruitment wise, but most candidates who are looking to move usually would have accepted something by the end of the quarter. It does tend to slow down a bit during the summer, as employees start taking vacations and perhaps leaving earlier in the day. 

New graduates: New grad recruiting starts to slow down drastically around summertime. Most new grad hires should have been placed by May (latest), and the team is gearing for new hire orientations to start in the summer. In recruiting, there also seems to be a stigma that new grads who don't have jobs lined up after graduation are not as strong, so that's also something to consider! 

Intern candidates:  Internship placements should have been finalized and made by April already, and the HR/Recruiting team should be focused on the program management of these interns. 


Q3 (July - September)

Q3 is an important quarter for university recruiting and new grads. Recruiters normally need to start career fair planning this quarter (for example, which colleges to go to, arrange logistics, order swag, get prepared for the sudden uptick in candidates). For companies like Google, Q3 is the time where interns go through conversion interviews from their previous internships to see whether they will get a return offer. 

New grad candidates: If you are a senior and graduating next year, make sure to attend the career fairs in the fall! Take the time to polish up your resume and interviewing skills sometime in the summer, but definitely make sure you are ready before the career fairs. Be sure to add in your most recent internship experience into your resume (hopefully you gained some experience during the summer). This also applies to interns. 


Q4 (October - December)

The beginning of the quarter tends to be pretty busy (especially for University recruiters), but as the year comes to a close, recruitment tends to slow down during the holidays (Thanksgiving and onward). 

New grad candidates: Focus on your full time job search NOW. A lot of students may think that they have a lot of time and think "why should I interview now when I'm graduating in 9 months? Keep in mind that large companies have general recruitment windows, and the strongest new graduates would have done a majority of their interviews in September/October/November, receiving offers before the end of the year.  Some will continue interviewing in January/February, but I've seen the best candidates usually make their decision before the year end.  This is important to note because if you are a new grad and late to the game, the company may no longer have headcount. 

If you are interviewing with multiple companies, recruiters may try to press you for a decision sooner than you are ready to commit. Check to see if your school has a recruitment policy to push back for more time (for example, MIT's policy states that employers cannot impose exploding offers).

Intern candidates: Interns should also start their search in Q4 as well. Interns usually have the end of Q4 and beginning of Q1 to do their interviews for an internship. 

International candidates: Q4 is a busy time for international recruitment as well, as companies with longer interviewing processes should start their interviewing process early. 


Of course, this could vary from company to company, but this is just the general flow! These are just timeframes for the ups and downs of the recruitment season. If the economy is doing well and strong, industry recruitment should be going strong at all times of the year. Hopefully this is helpful and will give you a better understanding of how timing plays a crucial role in the recruitment process.

3 New Job Searching Tools To Check Out

Internet has changed the way the world communicates and connects. This is especially true in how companies recruit and where candidates find jobs, as new tools are constantly being rolled out to attract new demographics. Since I love sourcing and discovering new technologies, I wanted to share with you a few cutting edge career tools for the modern day techie. 

Weave App

     

 

 

This is a Tinder-like approach to local networking that I found out through AngelList. Sometimes it can be a bit intimidating to LinkedIn InMail someone, so this app takes away the fear factor.  Weave allows you to easily connect with other (local) professionals, as easily as swiping right. I've had this app for about a week, and had a few professional matches, but so far conversations have been pretty sparse, as people's engagement level will differ from person to person. I did get connected with an entrepreneur and we are scheduled to chat more next week. I'm impressed that the app maintains it's professionalism, as I was hesitant some might use it for dating purposes.   Note, the app crashes a lot. Nonetheless, still an app worthwhile to check out. 

Jobr

     

 

 

Jobr is another Tinder-like approach for job postings. The pros: it's mobile, easy to swipe through, and can expose you to jobs you haven't heard about. You can also customize what you are looking for based on position, salary, and location. The cons: the UI is a bit lacking, as the resume and job descriptions usually get jumbled into one giant paragraph. Another con is that it's tends to pull jobs from ZipRecruiter and other large job search engines, so you'll definitely need to filter through carefully. Conceptually it sounds great, but it still has some ways for improvement; if their team can nail down the design and attract strong companies on the platform, it is sure to be a winner.

Glassbreakers

     

 

 

For all you women out there looking to network with other professional women, this is the perfect site for you. The site is marketed to foster a female community that embraces mentorship and support. I signed up last week after hearing about it from a friend, and was just approved for membership today. Overall, I'm very impressed, as I was matched up with someone with a very similar background as mine, and we are coordinating a time to meet next week over coffee. Algorithm on fleek.

New Year, New You!

At the beginning of every year, it's common to have new years resolutions and new goals. New Year, New You. But why are new goals and aspirations typically set only at the beginning of the year? For example, why is my gym is insanely packed this month (grr for stealing my parking) as compared to previous months?  Call me crazy, but we should be goal setting at all times of the year; we should not make excuses or procrastinate when to start. It's common for people to re-evaluate their careers at the beginning of the year (or Q1 in general). How do I know? Because as a recruiter, Q1 is often one of the busiest times of the year; annual strategy plans are introduced, headcount opens up, new requisitions are opened, and recruiters get flooded with candidate inquires now more than ever.  I personally have about 5 friends who are either in the midst of finding a new job and/or seriously considering a career change. As their friend in HR/Recruiting, I oftentimes get asked for advice on how to approach a job change.

If you are looking for a career change or new job this year, here are a few of my suggestions on where to start:

1) Deep soul search. Job searching = soul searching. Think of it this way: we spend a majority of our time in the office. Multiply that over a course of a life time. In retrospect, think of all the hours you have spent at the office -- that's a lot of sacrifice! So when you are job searching, find something you would enjoy. Ask yourself the "why" behind what you are doing, or what you want to accomplish. Do you find passion in your work? What is the big picture of how you will contribute back to society? Where do you want to be in the next 5, 10, 15 years, and how does your next role help you to get there? These are all questions you should be thinking about on the high level when considering a switch.

2) Research! If you are not sure about what career path to take, do your homework: research positions that sound interesting and connect with people who are already in those roles. Sometimes reading job descriptions and articles online may not give you an accurate or whole picture. Find people you know and trust to give you a firsthand account. Ask friends of friends. If you can't think of any in your network, refer to LinkedIn.  Don't be shy when asking a stranger about their occupation -- people are more willing to help than you might think (in most cases, people love talking about themselves).

3) Networking. This pretty much goes without saying: you need to network as much as you can. Cast a wide network of people in different industries and occupations, as diversity may come in handy. Make sure to also maintain these relationships because you never know when your paths might cross in the future. Even if you are long-term planning and don't plan on making a move anytime soon, start developing your network now.

4) Stay active and assertive in your search. Many times, candidates will submit their resume through a job board, and simply wait around to hear back. Newsflash - this isn't the most effective way to find a job. Candidates need to be assertive and keep on top of their job search - exhaust all options! Have you tried getting a referral directly in the company? What about having a second degree connection submit your resume? Have you tried emailing the recruiter directly? What about the hiring manager? Unless you have received a direct rejection, you can keep trying. If you ever feel left out in the dark in your interviewing process, you should always ping your recruiter to see what's going on (trust, it's our job to make sure candidates are crystal clear in where they stand).

5) Stand out. If you land an interview, make sure to properly prepare. You need to research the company, thoroughly understand what they do, and have good questions lined up to ask your interviewer. Whenever candidates respond with "I don't know much about your company" or have boring generic questions, it's a huge turn off to the interviewer. They could probably find other candidates that are more enthusiastic. Find ways to differentiate yourself from other candidates by asking thought provoking/engaging questions, showing that you know wsup with the company/industry, and going in prepared (meaning, you know the numbers on the top of your head, you have work samples ready, etc).  As always, be polite and show proper business etiquette.

6) Stay Positive!  Job searching is nerve wrecking and it takes a toll on your state of mind.  It's dreadful to wait around in the dark and to not be sure where you stand in the process. Constantly worrying and stressing during your job search won't do you any good, so stop it. Remember that you only have control over certain things - so instead of worrying and sitting around waiting, be active and focus on the things you actually have control over. For example, you have the control over whether you wish to attend networking events or apply for more jobs. There are a ton of alternative ways ("back routes" as I like to call them) to get where you wish to be, so stay optimistic and keep trying.

 

 

The Cover Letter - Yay or Nay?

I read this article the other day on LinkedIn Pulse about a hiring manager's claim that cover letters weigh more than resumes (hint: they do not). Reading the comments, there seemed to be a lot of mixed feedback on this topic. From a recruiters standpoint, cover letters are not helpful. So, the question is: should we, or should we not, provide a cover letter? Before you start stressing about writing one, here are my thoughts. 1) High technology industry approaches the job search a bit differently.  Especially you are applying for an engineering related job, recruiters/hiring managers seldom read cover letters, and thus it is not helpful (so use your time doing something else).  Instead, hiring managers and recruiters will resort more heavily on other things like a strong resume or strong LinkedIn profile (I sometimes don't even collect a candidate's formal resume because I can resort to their LinkedIn).

What about non-tech related jobs within the high-technology industry? If you are applying for something that requires strong writing/communications skills (like marketing, business development, or public relations), a strong cover letter could help further demonstrate your strengths.  However, remember that a cover letter will not exactly "make" a decision on whether the company is interested in talking further; if written incorrectly, it could even break your chances.  It also depends on the context of your industry.

2) No one has time to read a long cover letter. If you are sending in a cover letter that is more than 3 paragraphs in length, then you are doing it wrong.  Hiring managers and recruiters simply don't have the time to read through an entire essay, so don't send it in, as it might even hurt your chancesStrong cover letters are brief and to the point; candidates must be explicit about who they are and what they are looking for, and give strong examples of why they are a fit. Strong cover letters (and good candidates) present information that is well organized and easy to find. I'll write a post on this later.

3) Don't ever send a cookie-cutter cover letter. Ever. The obvious reason is that cut and paste cover letters may overlook small details that the applicant might not see. You might be blasting off 10 cover letters a day, and though it seems efficient, you forget to change the name of the company. Oops. The maybe not-so-obvious reason of why a cookie-cutter cover letter is never a good idea is that every role is a bit different and needs to be tailored. The candidates that are able to able to identify the employer's wants/needs/pain points, and succinctly portray why they are a fit, will peak more interest. A candidate that can highlight why he/she is a good fit for this particular role and company is in a better position to be called back. Generic cookie cutter resumes usually do not capture that effect.

4) If you are spending too much time writing a cover letter, then it's not an efficient use of time. If you've been working on one cover letter for more than a couple hours (even days and/or weeks), then you are approaching it wrong. Your time is better spent on other methods, like networking, reaching out directly on LinkedIn, or connecting with people for informational interviews. The format for a cover letter is pretty standard, but what applicants usually struggle with is being able to tie the "why" into a short concise summary. If this is something holding you back in your job search, I suggest taking time off to reflect on your whole career image/trajectory/accomplishments/goals first. The better you are able to connect the dots, the better you can convey this value to others.

So, where do I stand? In short: if you are an engineer looking for an engineering role, then don't bother (but if you are an engineer looking to switch to something business-y, then write one). If you are in high-tech (i.e. Silicon Valley) but not in engineering, then it's up to your discretion, but it might not get read. If you are in a conservative industry where strong writing and communication skills are valued or a crucial part of the job, then sure, but make sure it's NOT longer than three paragraphs, a cookie cutter or that it took you more than 2 hours to write, because you could be being more efficient in other ways. If you don't want to write a formal cover letter, send out a similar format introduction email to the hiring manager or recruiter. Because what else are you going to write in your first introduction email?

As for this article, author Laura Nelson makes a few good points, but her argument is completely exaggerated.  Let's be honest: if Laura had only one hour to get through 200 resumes, she's better off picking through resumes, looking for relevant skills, then reading the cover letter as a final clinger - not the other way around. No matter how much "personality" you inject, after reading 200 of them, they will all start to blur, sorry. Personality is important, but if a candidate lacks the wrong fundamental skills, then it simply isn't a good fit (unless you are looking for a purely entry level role).

 

 

6 Creative Approaches to Tackling the Start-Up Job Search

For those looking to leave their corporate grind and wanting to join a start-up, here a few tips on where to start.  Prospecting for start-up jobs is a completely different ball game.  Many of these opportunities are harder to find and will require a more creative approach.  If you've already tapped out LinkedIn careers or The Daily Muse jobs with no luck, try looking into these alternatives. 1) Venture Capital Firms - Check out the top leading venture capital firms, and look through their job portfolio section. Some have portals where you can submit your resume and the in-house VC recruiter will match you with roles from one of their portfolio companies. Others will have a general careers email where you can send over your resume, and someone will respond back if there is a fit.

2) Subscribe to start-up funding news - Sites like CrunchBase Daily give their subscribers daily updates to funding news and acquisitions. It's a great way to get exposure to what's happening in the industry.  Chances are, a company that recently raised an impressive amount of funding will be looking to hire more people. Keep those companies on your radar and keep an eye out for interesting opportunities.

3) AngelList - This website is like the LinkedIn of the start-up world, and it's quickly gaining a lot of traction. You can find tons of information on up and coming start-ups on AngelList, and they also have a jobs board section. Be sure to fill out your profile!

4) Niche job boards - Smaller companies may not have a huge budget to throw money on expensive job boards like Monster or LinkedIn.  Even if they did have the money, it might not be the right type of demographic they are looking to target.  Instead, try niche start-up job sites like Startuphire.com and Ventureloop.  

5) Start-up Incubators - Look into start-up incubators like Y-Combinator and 500 Start-ups to see if any of their companies might be hiring. Some of them have an open forum where community members will post roles of what they are looking for.

6) Networking - Start meeting more people in the start-up community to learn about where they found their opportunity. Let them know that you are looking so if anything opens up, they can help connect you. If you currently don't have a network in the start-up community, you can start building that up by attending relevant meet ups and events in the area.

As always, you can Google any of those websites listed above and type in "competitors" to see what else might be relevant and related.

Good luck!