The Reward Recruitment Calendar


“What’s the market like at the moment?” is probably the most common question I get asked by both hiring managers and candidates alike. A perfectly reasonable question, but more complex than it seems because, in common with certain areas of theoretical physics (bear with me, I’ve got this) the answer is heavily dependent on the perspective and indeed presence of an observer (ok, I haven’t got this, but you physicists out there will know what I’m desperately grasping at here). Basically – I can tell you what I see, but that might not always be specifically relevant to your individual situation. I may have a very healthy flow of new roles in the Reward space and be run off my feet, but amongst those I may not have a single position that fits you and your personal criteria. It’s always a highly subjective question and answer…

…but in an effort to help everyone understand the general ebbs and flows of the Reward recruitment market (although it clearly maps across other disciplines to some degree) I present here my guide to the annual cycle of Reward based recruitment… hope it helps, or at least amuses…


Candidates start to flood the market with new year’s resolutions often based on disappointing bonus communications. Jobs are yet to materialise as these people haven’t actually handed their notices in yet and started to create vacancies. Reward teams still in the thick of year end, no time to really think about hiring or anything else for that matter. If your business is well prepared it’s a great time to pinch an early bargain from the market. (Probably best to speak to that brilliant Reward focused recruitment consultant you’ve been told about.)


Bonuses, in the main, now banked, candidates getting more eager and determined to move having struggled through the 972 days of January. Opportunities still thin on the ground but starting to build…half term looms, many businesses thinking they’ll wait till after that before kicking off searches, but at least they now have time to plan given year end is out the way. Everyone seems to be skiing. (Except your exceptional recruitment consultant…actually, he’s skiing as well, but I bet his phone’s on and he’s got his laptop with him.)


Things picking up, usually one of the busier months in the calendar for new opportunities hitting the market – notwithstanding seismic geo-political tremors. If you’re quick as a business you can still get in before the rest of the market and get your pick of the early draft…when’s Easter going to put the brakes on everything, I’ve been seeing Crème Egg adverts for about six months? (Time to hope the best recruitment consultant our there isn’t too busy and has capacity to help you out.)


If Easter’s not already taken everyone’s eye off the ball it soon will. We’re still early in the year, people remain eager to move on and businesses have not yet filled their vacancies, so the market remains vibrant. Candidates plentiful but, like mothers’ willing to go through childbirth a second time, they’ve forgotten quite how painful year end was and the next one seems a loooong way off and so are not quite as galvanised into making the move as they were. (Should I have bought that recruiter a chocolate egg? Yes, yes you should.)


Another traditionally busy month in terms of opportunities hitting the market. Summer holidays are not yet on the radar, Easter holidays are forgotten. Candidates have not accrued enough current year bonus to be hesitant about moving on so are still happy to be contacted (provided they’re being contacted by one of those excellent specialist recruitment consultants, if you happen to know one).


Hang on, with a three month notice period and a 4-6 week recruitment process we’re looking at candidates who can’t start until we’ve already kicked off year end processes – how the hell has that come around so quickly? Perhaps we’ll need interim support this year. (I wonder if anyone could possibly help me find someone like that?)


Those without school terms to navigate are already making the most of the cheap summer holidays on the market, social media feed full of pictures of bare feet. You’re getting a seat on the train every now and then and the queues at Pret are moving more swiftly than normal…recruitment is still happening, but everything’s less frantic…perhaps competition for jobs is lessening? (Could do with someone to tell me what’s going on out there, surely there’s a brilliant (funny…humble…erudite) source of expert knowledge out there somewhere?)


Where’s everybody gone? Despite having been very organised you can’t schedule the second round of interviews for another six weeks because the two interviewers and the candidate themselves are on consecutive two week holidays in three different time zones…businesses have stopped posting new roles on the market – “Let’s wait until the schools go back” – and the few that have are struggling to get any response; has the world stopped turning? (Must remember to wish that remarkable recruiter a happy birthday on the 18th…oh actually, sod it, LinkedIn will remind me, I’ll click that button when I see it, that’ll do, he never thanked me for that sodding Easter Egg anyway).


When do the schools go back? Seriously!? Notice periods – previously barely registered – are suddenly high on the hiring managers’ agenda; year-end has started; potential candidates are getting sucked into busy period and have also concluded they may as well get their heads down and optimise this year’s bonus – “I’ll look again next year”. They’ve not seen much new hitting the market for a month anyway so it’s probably not the year to move. (If you’re hiring this month, you’re probably going to need a superb recruitment consultant to make sure you’re getting what you need.)


Businesses have a different idea, summer holidays are now over, Christmas is a long way off, no one has any holiday left, now’s a good time to hire. Often a busy time for new roles, but a competitive market needing strong recruitment processes and someone (can’t possibly think who?) extolling the virtues of your offering to the candidate base…and please be aware you’re likely to need to buy out those bonuses now.


Similar to October, plenty out there, candidates a little more hesitant than they were in Feb/March but the significant number of opportunities on the market buoys their confidence. They’ll speak to you, if you can get their attention. (If only there was an exceptionally well networked recruitment consultant who they all trusted.)


Despite having seen tinsel in the shops since August, Christmas’s effect on the recruitment market is usually not evident until after week three (when everything will stop dead). Keep your eyes peeled and you might leap frog the January candidate queues. Get in front of those businesses now and you’re way ahead once the hangovers have lifted and the in-laws have been deported. (Matt’s got his phone off for a day or two but, when his wife’s not looking, he turns it back on and checks his messages)