3 Things You Need To Know About A February Job Search
There’s no bad time to look for a job, but there are seasonal trends that can work in your favor or slow your progress.
Despite robust hiring and low unemployment numbers in the U.S., job seekers still need to prepare for the unique challenges and opportunities each month presents.
If you’re planning to launch or continue a job search in February, here’s what you need to know to maximize your efforts.
1. It’s a lot like January, but better
January is the most popular month to begin a job search. Many people had downtime during the holiday season to reflect on their career goals, and the new year further motivated them to get started.Today In: Leadership
Though employers open many new jobs in January, the supply of candidates often outpaces the demand. A horde of job seekers start January with optimism, but it can be a rather frustrating month if you are constantly failing to break out from the pack.
This dynamic will begin weeding out your competition as early as February, when job seekers who weren’t truly committed to their search get tired of the endless networking or get distracted by the increasing demands of their current job.
Meanwhile, most of the jobs that opened in January are still seeking candidates, and companies continue to create new positions at a higher than average pace throughout February.
Market conditions continue to improve in February for those job seekers that can stay committed to their search. You won’t need to do anything differently this month than what you were doing in January as long as you don’t let your efforts trail off or slow down.
The length of the average job search is five months and the search can be even longer for more senior roles. Keep in mind that you are just getting starting and need to prepare yourself for the long haul. Finding a new job will probably take longer than you hope, but it’s ultimately worth the effort.
2. Now’s the time to target your dream companies
There are a lot of reasons that companies need to hire at this time of year. The first motivation is that many leaders start working on a new set of goals that create brand-new positions. This happens all while some of their best and most essential talent are out finding new jobs themselves, quickly creating an additional need to rehire for their positions.
February is when you will start seeing the first wave of 2020 backfill opportunities hit the market.
This means that if you have a specific list of companies you’d like to work for, now is a good time to target them.
It’s fine to canvas LinkedIn and other job sites opportunistically applying to whatever is open, but use your networking sessions this month to inquire about two to three of your most desired companies. There’s a good chance they’ll need someone like you soon, even if they don’t know it yet.
Targeting a company may not be easy if you don’t have anyone in your network currently employed there, but if you are direct in asking your contacts for second-degree connections, you’ll likely be surprised by who they know.
Don’t rule out asking anyone in your network for help because they aren’t in the same industry, live in a different location or lack seniority. While you may be correct in judging their professional network, they may instead have a family member or close friend that can help refer you.
Throughout February, work systemically to get on the radar of one to two hiring managers and one recruiter at each of your targets. But don’t overdo it: reaching out to too many people in the organization at the same time can backfire. Focus on a few people this month and wait to try additional contacts in March.
3. You absolutely need a follow-up schedule
Without a system to track your follow-ups, you run the risk of letting some leads fall through the cracks while you follow up too frequently with others.
Unfortunately, few things are harder to navigate during a job search than knowing when to send follow-up emails.
Timing depends on your previous relationship with the contacts, their temperament and the level of engagement they’ve already shown. While there are no hard and fast rules, here are some guidelines to help you plan and automate your follow-up schedule.
Close contacts, that is, the people invested in you and eager to help, should be followed up with once a month with a quick update on your job search. This is especially true when things are going well and when you finally land that new job. Don’t wait to reach out only when you need something; make sure you continue to nurture your relationships throughout the search.
Loose connections, new introductions and recruiters you don’t have any open interviews with should be pinged twice, spaced about four to six weeks apart, with a short “thanks for keeping me on the radar” email and a hope that you connect again soon.
If someone promises to make an introduction on your behalf but hasn’t yet, follow up with them after ten to fourteen days.
If you’ve had phone or in-person interviews but the recruiting team gave you no idea as to when to expect a hiring decision, you should inquire on the status of your candidacy approximately seven to ten days after your interviews. If you were told you would receive your next update within a specific time frame that has passed, follow up with the recruiter after three to five days.
Finally, if you were contacted about a potential job but that lead hasn’t moved forward to interviews, reach out to the recruiter or hiring manager after five to seven days the first time you inquire on the status of the role, and then wait another two weeks before following up again, if needed.
In general, you shouldn’t have to follow up more than twice to get a job lead moving to the next step. If you feel the need to ping someone more than that, this particular job lead is probably a dead end. By letting it go and not becoming an annoyance, you are more likely to leave the door open for the person to contact you later when they get serious about hiring.
All in all, February is a great month to gain traction in your job search if you stay focused. Take advantage while you can.