August 2014 Hiring Forecast is Bleak, Maybe

by Rebecca Sargeant

August Reflection Recruiter Month

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Is August Slow?

Every industry has its high and low seasons. For recruiting, August has become the low season: the month company executives go missing. What I mean is that they head off on vacation and unplug completely from the grid, slowing down the hiring machinery to a snail’s pace.

Last August in particular hit a low note for many agencies when hiring came to a screeching halt. Many CEOs, VPs, some Directors and Line Managers didn’t bring their laptop, PDA, or cell phone with them on vacation, championing to the rest of the workforce an important new life goal, and consequently trend – the priority of work-life balance.

Considering the significant lull in hiring we saw last August, we have to ask who else will be unplugging and what does this mean to agencies and independent recruiters? Will the trend trickle down the food chain and influence candidates, recruiter staff and all the people involved in the hiring? How will this lull affect your business?


See Quiet August As An Opportunity

Naturally, many third party agencies follow their clients’ and candidates’ lead and take a vacation too. But if they do, they are missing out on a valuable opportunity. The opportunity to finally have a block of quiet undistracted time when they can concentrate their efforts into organizing and strengthening their business.

Agencies that are flying high and surpassing all their targets and don’t want their business to get bigger and better don’t need to read further. This article isn’t for you (go ahead and book that August trip). But for agencies still trying to play catch-up after a disappointing 2014 first quarter, or those that just want to stop struggling and take their business to the next level, August is the perfect time to give your business your undivided attention.

For you August should not be about hiring and hitting targets but readjusting, practicing, planning and implementing within your business and its practices.

First, readjust your target for August to accommodate its slow pace. Don’t waste your or your staff’s time working harder trying to find job requests when there are none. Even worse, don’t sit by the phone, waiting for a certain Hiring Manager to call. Your time would be better served on other areas of your business, preparing you for a productive year and the very busy fall season.


August Opportunities For Agencies and Independent Recruiters

I’ve put together a list of ideas to get you started. If from now on you make August the month you up your game, you will thrive for the rest of the year. If you use any of these ideas you will improve your business and desk.

  • Revamp your branding. Take some time and look at your competitors. You will quickly find everyone is saying the same thing. This is a great time to answer questions such as these: how is your branding, as a recruiter or an agency, coming across online or in your other communications? How can you stand out from your competitors? Do you need a new profile on LinkedIn? Do you need to rework your mission statement or elevator speech? How do you want your market your message? How do you want the industry to perceive you? Do they perceive you that way? If not, start planning what you can do to improve your brand.
  • Revamp your business goals. During the year, many agencies measure production day to day or month to month, rather than year to year. Step back look over the last 12 and even the last 24 months (or more); how have you done? Where do you want to improve? Did you meet your targets? Should you reset better targets? Is there an industry area you want to focus on more or less? If you didn’t meet your targets, what obstacles are blocking your success? Do you notice any trends or seasonal behaviours you need to plan around. Brainstorm on solutions and how you could implement them. Set up a plan with a timeline.
  • Research your market. Many agencies are focused on the Recruiting Industry Trends rather than on our client market trends. Stop looking in the mirror. Go and look at what is trending for you client. What trends are occurring? How does this affect their business and your business? How does your research help them be competitive and what part do you play in helping your client become competitive. When they return to their desk in September, communicate how you will help them and back it up with your research so you are both ready to take on the market together.
  • Close the deals before August and have interviews scheduled for September. Once August comes around, decision makers go AWOL and so does your opportunity of getting hires. If some interviews do overlap into August, confirm with the Hiring Manager whether approvals can still be made during their vacation or if things will stall until September. Here’s a good tip, offer to help your Hiring Manager be ready to run forward when they return in September. Ask for interview times when you can book in your top candidates. This approach will take confidence to pull off. Make sure to thank the Hiring Manager for this opportunity and for the trust they are giving you in finding the right people.
  • Brush up on your recruiting skills. Many of us are too busy during the regular work week to consider how we could improve our skills or work more effectively. The August doldrums make it the perfect time to finally take that course you had your eye on or get better at sales or cold calling, etc. There are plenty of recruiter specific training classes that will review the basics and teach you or your staff new skills. Or, you can stretch yourself by taking a sales course. You can also find out what training vendors offer for the tools you use every day. Finally, you can challenge yourself, and talk to a coach about what and how you could improve. Many offer a free consultation.
  • Connect with recruiting colleagues in your area. We as recruitment professionals work in a vacuum, with heads down searching for candidates, filling orders, generally making it happen. Take this time out to look around for a recruiter networking meeting. It’s a great way to blow off steam, get input from other recruitment professionals, share information on various industry tools, discuss good techniques and share ideas. All this information can help you make more hires and meet higher targets as well as run a better business. Plus, you get to meet others in your industry and take a small vay-cay from your desk!


Since August is the peak of summer, you may be tempted to follow your clients’ example and use up your vacation time. I don’t blame you, but I urge you to reconsider. The fact that August is not saddled with holidays and family obligations (like Christmas), makes it the perfect time to unplug from the usual sourcing, sales, and hiring juggle, and to plug in to your business and desk. It’s an opportunity to finally get organize, to improve, and to plan for the future!


Rebecca Sargeant Curta

Rebecca is the Recruiter’s Coach at Curta, where the mission is to raise the bar in the global recruiting and staffing industry and assist Recruiters in exceeding their business goals. Rebecca is currently meeting the 360 Desk Challenge of building a desk from scratch and targeting a $100K by October 1st using Curta methodology. “Because those who teach well, definitely can!”


* Image courtesy of


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