Fall is prime hunting season — in more ways than one. In the job cycle world, fall tends to be a great time to be in sales job-hunting mode. As we say goodbye to summer and shift into autumn, we are coming to a critical period of the year for both companies and job seekers. Both sides need to be aware of the impact of this change in seasons on the job search dynamic.
There are really two primary job cycles for a given year, especially for sales roles. The first one begins in early- to mid-January. The holidays are over, kids are back in school, holiday decorations are back in storage, and employers have focused on business again. Not to mention employees are wanting to honor their New Year’s resolutions about making a career change. Or how about top salespeople seeing that big January bonus/commission direct deposit come through for crushing last year’s goals. Once they’ve received the $$$, they feel better about beginning to shop for their next lucrative gig. This busy upcycle typically runs through the remainder of Q1 and deep into Q2, until around Memorial Day. As you might surmise, the approach of summer causes a slowdown, and we’ll touch on that in a later blog.
The busy fall season (and the reason for this article) hits around Labor Day and runs through Thanksgiving. Just like in January, a season of fun and distraction has come to an end. Summer vacations are over, and kids are back in school; company decision-makers are back in the office consistently, etc. A key difference about the fall hunting season, however, is that sales leaders and business owners have several different business impactors and indicators staring them in the face. Is Q3 looking all right? Do we have enough pipeline of opportunity to set up a strong Q4? Do I have remaining budget for headcount tied to this year that I might not receive again next year if I fail to use it? If so, maybe now would be a great time to add some revenue generators to the team. Maybe I do need to pull the trigger on bringing in that sales leader — or replacing the one I have.
Managers also might decide to move on a critical hire in the fall; there is great potential benefit to investing some of next year’s recently-approved headcount budget today. Hiring a new salesperson in the fall means that she or he is likely fully trained and ramped by January — as opposed to trying to hire that individual in Q1 and not having her/him on the road to true revenue-generating sales effort until late Q2.
Whether you’re a hiring manager or a job seeker, you should be aware of this cycle.
Hiring managers need to realize that as they get deeper into the year (past Thanksgiving for sure), it’s going to be more challenging to hire excellent salespeople. That’s because the outstanding ones have hit their numbers for the year and have probably qualified for bonuses and/or accelerators. In almost every case, the associated payout dates for these large commissions do not occur until January, sometimes as late as the end of the month. Top salespeople will not want to leave money on the table, nor should they. If you’re hiring for best-of-breed sales folks, get them in the door by November, or be prepared to pay a sign-on bonus to make up for expected payouts.
Job seekers need to know that there is a flurry of activity right now. You’ll see a lot more jobs posted in September and October than have been up on the boards in prior months. If you’re thinking about a move, fall is an excellent time to shop. During this period, company managers are highly-motivated and looking to pull a quick trigger. They may need additional hands on deck to help make sure the revenue goal for this year is met and/or exceeded. They may have $$$ to spend on hires and need to utilize it fast for multiple internal reasons. Regardless, you need to be in the mood to move quickly if you’re job hunting in the fall. You also need to be ready to explain why you’re looking to move. If it’s because you’re not going to make your number for the year, be prepared to address that topic openly, honestly, and adeptly in an interview. Recruiters and hiring managers can — and should — ask.
Whether you’re searching for a candidate or a new sales job, happy fall hunting! Contact us ASAP if you need help with the process from either perspective.