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I recently graduated last December, and am now looking for a developer position. I have had several interviews, but no offers. Many of the recruiters have told me something to the effect of "The company is super busy right now, but we usually hire in the [Spring/Summer/Fall], so I'll be giving you a call back soon." Sometimes they do call me back in a few week sometimes not.

Is there a peak hiring season during the course of a year? If so, why? Are they looking for something else during this time? Anything I can do to prepare for the big annual hire fest? Or is this just a nice way of turning me down?

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Developer in what industry? Government contracting follows the federal budget year, which starts in October. Accounting/Finance will probably be very busy around the end end of the calendar year and during tax season so they'll probably hire in summer and early fall. – ventsyv Feb 10 at 22:06
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@ventsyv: That looks more like an answer than a comment. – GreenMatt Feb 10 at 22:09
    
Sounds like an excuse, otherwise they wouldn't be interviewing, as it costs money. Sorry it's happening to you. – AndreiROM Feb 10 at 23:07
    
@GreenMatt I think ventsyv is suggesting that the question is too broad to be answered comprehensively. – Lilienthal Feb 10 at 23:53
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If you've had interviews, it almost certainly means that company is hiring. Most companies wouldn't waste resources like that if they didn't intend to actually hire someone in the end. – Brandin Feb 11 at 8:30
up vote 10 down vote accepted

Hiring season varies depending on the company and the job but here are some general guidelines:

Entry level jobs cluster around the spring graduation when there will be the most candidates.

Other hiring tends to revolve around several things:

  • The Fiscal year of the company/organization
  • The contract start date if they are a contracting firm especially for government contractors who will often be hiring in accordance with the government fiscal year and not their own.
  • The immediacy of the need for a replacement or new position _ for instance a dental assistant would likely be replaced immediately as the dentist needs that person to work on patients. However one out of 10 accounting clerks might not be replaced immediately to see if they can get away with not replacing the position.

They also tend to avoid the holiday period when many people are on vacation and it is hard to get an interview panel together or get things through all the HR and management approvals.

These are general times though, there are openings possible at any time.

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Usually there are two peak seasons. One after vacations, because you need key people in the office to interview candidates. The other peak is at the beginning of the financial year, after budgets are approved.

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Companies can often have "hiring seasons", that either align with calendar or financial years. It's not set in stone, but there are often graduate roles advertised shortly after students graduate to catch the out-take. It can also depend on the country, for example here in Australia things normally get very quiet into December and the new year, then pick up around February.

But to say that there is a generic hiring time for all companies is misleading; it's purely a company's internal policy. To answer your question though, the chances are that the company isn't hiring right now for whatever reasons. It may not be personal, just their hiring practice not to hire out of their set time frames.

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In the U.S., hiring tends to be slow between Thanksgiving and Christmas because companies are focused on shipping their year-end deliverables and that's all. They have no desire to hire new developers because the ramp-up period would be a distraction.

Hiring also tends to be slow during the summertime, especially towards the end of the summer, because many hiring managers have families and they want to take a vacation before their children return to school at the end of August or beginning of September.

Otherwise, companies who are motivated to hire will hire. And they'll extend an offer to a qualified candidate as soon as they're approved to do so. Emphasis: Budgets and red tape must be cleared before a company can extend a job offered.

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To add to this, hiring also tends to be slow in the US between Thanksgiving and New Year's because so many people tend to take their PTO and vacation time during this period. So, between the companies too busy with end of year deliverables to be hiring (some places aren't, $[job-1] had its fiscal year end April 1st, so all our "end of year" crunch came in March...), and the companies where everyone's trying to take vacation, most employers in the US don't really do a lot of hiring for the month or so at the end of the calendar year. – HopelessN00b Feb 11 at 3:51

At one point I was in a similar situation: About a year and a half after finishing college and doing part time work that was only tangential to my desired career path, I had started a job search in November. I had a few interviews in November and December, but no offers before January. Finally, in mid-January I received two offers. Prior to that, a couple of places even told me that they could not move forward because some of the people with input about hiring me were out and/or too busy due to the holidays and end of year.

There are a few reasons I know of that can lead to hiring lulls:

  • As mentioned, holiday times can lead to slow or even no hiring. End of year issues can contribute to this in many organizations. For example, in the U.S. (and probably other countries which are predominantly Christian), the period around Christmas can be very slow for job seekers. In fact, my experience is that the period from a couple weeks before (U.S.) Thanksgiving through mid-January is very slow for hiring.

  • Budget cycles can also greatly affect hiring, as a department looking to hire needs to know if they will have the money to hire a new employee. This will vary across different organizations due to differing fiscal calendars. Also - while I think this is less common now - sometimes organizations will interview with hopes of getting money that never comes.

  • Related to the above: For government (civil service) and related (contracted) jobs, the fiscal year of the government in question can greatly affect a hiring season. Hiring generally slows toward the end of a fiscal year and then picks up after the beginning of a new fiscal year. Unfortunately, with the U.S. Federal government's fiscal year beginning on October 1 (ideally, for practical purposes it can be delayed due to political disagreements), there is only a window of a few weeks between the start of the fiscal year and the late Autumn/early-Winter holidays; thus some agencies may not hire much between late Summer and mid-Winter.

  • Employers looking to hire entry level people will be looking for recent graduates. Thus, in the U.S. at least, late Spring/early Summer will lead to increased hiring, since this is when most people finish their schooling. Companies doing this hiring sometimes send people to college campuses to meet students who expect to graduate soon and conduct preliminary interviews.

That said, we're entering mid-February as I type this, and I'd expect any hiring slow down for the holidays and end of year to be over. It might be beneficial to follow up with any employer with whom you interviewed if you haven't heard back from them. OTOH, employers looking to fill entry level jobs may delay hiring until they can pick from a new graduating class later this year.

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Hiring and onboarding recent graduates takes a lot of time, energy and effort that many companies don't look forward to, so they set aside the time when there are the most graduates looking for jobs.

Especially in programming, it's not good business sense to think understaffed projects will benefit from recent grads. It's very important long-term.

Other than slowing down during the vacation season, most hiring isn't seasonal. I know for my company, hiring graduates or offering internships is.

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Hiring is definitely seasonal, and there are probably more seasons than any of us in here can count.

Tax preparations companies in the U.S. start training seasonal tax preparers in the fall so they are ready to start working from January through April. Retailers in the U.S. start hiring seasonal workers in the fall for the Winter Holiday Season. Years ago, I worked at UPS as a seasonal worker loading trucks starting in early September. At that time, they brought on seasonal staff in late August or early September, and if you worked out through the Winter Holiday Season, then you might get offered full time employment. I got sick and was out in December, so I didn't get a full time gig.

There is a phenomenon known as "fishing for candidates", which some companies regularly engage in, particularly in the software arena. I've been in IT for 26 years, and I've had recruiters tell me about the phenomenon. I ask the recruiter about Position X with Company Y in City Z that I saw advertised, and the recruiter's response is, "Yeah, so?" Something of an odd response from someone who would make money if they presented my resume and I were hired. The recruiter would then give me a brief overview, from there perspective, about the position, what the company wants, and what the company is willing to pay. It doesn't sound very enticing, so I ask, "Is the company just fishing?", and the recruiter says, "Yes." They've learned the companies who engage in it, and perhaps have even figured out how the text of a job posting might somehow indicate they are just fishing and have no intention of actually hiring.

Some might reasonably ask the question, "Why would a company elicit for resumes if they have no intention of hiring? That wastes time and money." It consumes time and money, but it is not necessarily a waste. Fishing can be an easy way of finding out quickly what the available talent pool looks like for a given position. If the company got 2 resumes in 2 weeks, then this may be an area where the pickings are slim and the hiring process will take a longer period of time. If the company got 30 resumes in the first hour, then the talent pool is much deeper and they can afford to be very choosy. Posting a position and counting the resumes gives the company some useful data upon which to decide what is their next step.

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I think it depends on the industry. Generally speaking people don't quit their jobs closer to the holidays in the US. They want to spend money and use vacation so they are holding on to their jobs. Around spring time people tend to move as schools enter summer vacation and people are usually free to make choices as far as their careers.

So I would say companies probably hire all year around but positions probably open up near the spring time. For myself, I put in my notice around the holiday and as such my company put out a position to replace me at that time and were actively interviewing and looking. So yeah companies definitely hire all year.

Best of luck to you.

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Definitely seasonal here. Or more specific is we avoid hiring during our busy seasons. Keep in mind that this might not even have to do with the IT department specifically. We (IT) don't particularly have busy seasons at my company, but many of the other departments that we support do, and since hiring requires several managers / HR / etc. to coordinate they just prefer not to do it in the midst of any of our busy seasons. Well, and not to mention that if say a server crashes in the middle of the busy season they want IT available without distractions.

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