Why Q4 is the best time to look for and start a new job

The holidays are a job-hunter’s paradise.

We’re well into one of the most unusual job markets in history, with no signs of returning to business as usual. Competition for top talent is holding strong despite a shaky economy. And as we head into year-end – a season typically marked by candidates and companies pausing job searches – you may find yourself wondering if now’s a good time to be on the market.

So to set the record straight: Yes, the end of the year is actually a great time to search for and start a new job. Yes, even in this economy.

But we get it; you have concerns. Here’s our take on the questions that have come up in recent conversations with candidates.

1. Don’t let fear be the reason you don’t chase your dream job.

Too often, we hear of talent hanging on to less-than-ideal or downright lousy jobs well past reason — especially when the economy is a bit bumpy. They’ve internalized the fear of being the “last hired, first fired” and cling to the perceived security of staying put. There’s something to be said for loyalty, of course, but not if it’s at a significant cost to you.

The reality is, job security is an illusion. Business is business, and as harsh as it sounds, anyone can find themselves on the chopping block at any moment — especially when the economy is in trouble.

This is why it’s so important to be entrepreneurial about your career, and focus on contributing your talents where you can make the greatest impact and receive in return the most reward and fulfillment. If you’re undervalued or underutilized in your current role, that’s not exactly an advantageous place to be when downsizing decisions are made, either.

In other words, now’s as good a time as any to make your next move and go after the job you really want. 

2. That bonus you’re holding out for could cost you. 

If your total comp package includes a sweet bonus opportunity, you may be hesitant to leave it on the table. After all, you’ve been working all year, gunning for that perk, and you deserve it. Bonuses are an effective way for smart employers to incentivize strong performance (and retention). But payouts are not guaranteed, and you won’t always see the writing on the wall.

With the fear of recession in the air, companies are pulling back and shoring up resources in preparation for a possible storm. This means making tough calls, including canceling plans to pay out cash reserves. If you think your bonus is in the bag because you’re making your numbers, think again. You might get it, might not.

Now is a great time to negotiate for higher salaries in a new role to combat inflation or to find roles that better suit your lifestyle,” says Freeman+Leonard recruiter Brittani Kroog. “For the right employee, we are seeing companies go tens of thousands over their range and negotiate more PTO and other benefits.”

Plus, you may be able to negotiate for more money with a new employer to make up for the bonus you’re leaving on the table.

But even if not, you’ll need to decide if missing a great opportunity is worth a bonus you may not even get.

3. ‘Return to office’ is gaining ground, so get ahead of it. 

At Freeman+Leonard, we’re Team WFH. We think companies should be offering more remote work opportunities, not fewer. Alas, not every employer is on board. Many cling to outdated ideas about in-person collaboration (or their commercial leases), in addition to those whose workers must be on-site to perform their jobs.

In the past few months, we’ve seen a sharp increase in job descriptions with in-office-attendance requirements. And quite a few folks in our talent pool have been voicing displeasure about their employer enforcing return-to-office policies. With the pandemic waning, the trend isn’t looking good for home office holdouts in 2023.

If you prefer working remotely and it’s become clear that your employer has different ideas, your best bet is to get ahead of it. Doubly so if you moved farther away from your office during the pandemic (or even to a whole new city!).

Find a new opportunity with an employer that agrees with your thinking and appreciates the value of working from home. The clock is ticking!

4. Your competition is sleeping on the job (or sipping eggnog). 

The job search and hiring front are notoriously quiet at the end of the year. But in our experience, it’s often one of the best times to be on the hunt for a new role. Economic downturn and headline-grabbing layoffs aside, the job market is still strong in many sectors. Heading into 2023, healthy marketing and advertising budgets mean employers are still hungry for top talent. 

It can be tempting to take it easy during the holiday season, but your competition is probably thinking the same way. You may even figure that recruiters and hiring managers have completely checked out for the year, but we can assure you that’s not the case. Sure, some people are out of the office on vacation, but we’re still plugged in and actively looking to fill roles before the new year.

“We often advise clients to swoop in and get good talent now with fewer companies competing,” says Andrea Tipton, EVP, Marketing and Talent Solutions at Freeman+Leonard. “The same can be said for talent. Take the time now to decide what you want and go after it.”

With fewer candidates actively searching, December is a good time to stand out, get noticed and land your next role. 

5. ’Tis the season for searching and settling in with ease.  

The holidays can be a sleepy mix of slowing down at work while getting caught up in hustle-and-bustle at home. But don’t forget, you can always pare back your social calendar commitments and mile-long to-do list. If you’re eager to make your next move, use some of the downtime to polish your resume, update your LinkedIn profile, brush up on your interview skills, and take advantage of the slower pace.

If you land a role near year-end, you may be inclined to push your start date to January. But Q4 is a great time for onboarding without the pressure to start contributing right away. You’ll be able to sit in on planning meetings, connect with your new coworkers and clients during holiday social gatherings, get up to speed on company policies, programs, and technology, and prepare to hit your stride in January when projects are in full swing.

Set yourself up for success next year and beyond.

Overall, the future looks bright for marketing and advertising talent in this market. We encourage you to seize the opportunities in front of you, continuously strive to advance your career, and set yourself up for future success. December could be the month that makes a difference. 

The skilled talent professionals of Freeman+Leonard can help you with your search now and year-round.

Get in touch with a Freeman+Leonard recruiter today by submitting your resume or connecting with us on LinkedIn.