When you’re job hunting, you want any boost that can help increase your odds of getting hired. That’s why it’s no surprise that “September Surge” is currently trending on TikTok, as many recruiters and career coaches predict that the time after Labor Day in September through the end of October is the best time to get a job.
The concept is getting job seekers hyped: Under one popular “September Surge” prediction TikTok video with 600,000 views, comments read: “Really hoping this helps because I’m desperate” and “I’m praying so hard. I am literally so ready to leave my current job.”
But is the September Surge actually real?
HuffPost asked recruiters and experts at job board sites, including LinkedIn and Indeed, to weigh in on whether they believe a September Surge is approaching or not. Their answers varied.
The case for September Surge exists...
“I’ve been in the recruiting industry since ’99. And it is very real,” said Laurie Chamberlin, Head of LHH Recruitment Solutions in North America.
One big reason? After Labor Day, employers and employees wrap up their summer vacation plans and get back into hiring mode to finish strong for the end of year, recruiters say.
“Hiring slows down over the summer due to lots of vacation time for job seekers and candidates ― this makes scheduling tricky and can often lead to lengthier processes,” said Bonnie Dilber, a recruiting manager with app-automation company Zapier. “And recruiting teams know that we’ll run into the same thing in November and December. This makes September and October a really ideal time to hire as it’s a period when most people are in office and available, and there’s time for people to start before the end of the fiscal year.”
The other big reason? Budgets. Chamberlin said most companies are starting to budget right now for 2024, and they’re looking at their goals for 2023.
“If there’s funds in their budget, that they’re not going to get the FTE add in 2024, but they have it in 2023, they’re looking to hire. If they’re looking at revenue, and they need [a] head count to make that revenue achievable...they need to onboard those people right now to hit their 2024 goals. So it’s absolutely real,” Chamberlin said.
Chamberlin said the September Surge will be “full force” Labor Day week and will slow down closer to Thanksgiving when companies focus more on year-end bonuses and holiday time off.
...But the best month for hiring may be yet to come, economists say.
When you hear “September Surge,” you may picture a rising tide of job openings ready to sweep you off your feet and into the Promised Land of a better new job. But the surge may be actually more of a modest bump, believers of the September Surge acknowledge.
“I think people should have realistic expectations. We’re talking about a small increase versus a true shift in the market,” Dilber said about the September Surge.
And experts at job board sites noted that any sort of September bump in job openings they saw in their data was limited to seasonal employee jobs in retail and sales. For them, January was still the busiest month for hiring across industries.
“We’ve noticed hiring pick up in the late summer and fall due to increased demand for seasonal employees, especially retail,” said Guy Berger, the principal economist and head of macroeconomic trends at LinkedIn. “And despite discussions about a hiring spike in September, our historical data indicates that even in an uncertain economy, January remains the busiest month for hiring.“
Berger said that after January, June is the next busiest month for hiring “likely due to students entering the job” and that for the past four years, “the most entry-level hiring has happened in August.”
Because of the holiday consumption, “there is a pickup in job postings related to a lot of seasonal hiring in September, and it picks up throughout the fall,” said Nick Bunker, economic research director for North America at Indeed’s Hiring Lab. “Actually, the biggest surge in job postings tends to be the beginning of the year, like in January.”
Bunker said this could be because “employers are making their plans for hire for the year ahead in January.”
There are ways to help your job application stand out from the competition.
If you really want a new job before the end of the year, the odds are still in your favour. Bunker said the job search market is still tilted towards job seekers, but not as much as it was during late 2021-early 2022 when economic growth spiked from government stimulus support and businesses reopening after COVID.
“This is still a strong labor market, but I don’t think people are going to find as though they can just fall into a job,” he said.
Here are some expert-backed tips for making your application stand out:
With job openings, early birds really do get the worm. “Have your resume ready to go so you can apply quickly if you see an opening ― being an early [applicant] gives you a huge advantage!” Dilber said.
“Once you apply, send a message to the recruiter or hiring manager letting them know you applied, and reiterating your excitement around the role,” Dilber suggested.
Be flexible with interview times.
“Don’t delay on scheduling interviews ― teams may be eager to move processes quickly so take advantage of that by being as flexible as possible,” Dilber said.
During the job interview, connect your expertise to the company’s mission.
“The biggest thing that companies want to know is what can you do for the organisation, not just why you need a job and why you are qualified for that job,” Chamberlin said. “And that definitely makes people stand out.”
Ultimately, whether or not you notice a September Surge in job openings for roles you want, you can still use the end of summer to get your application ready.
“September is a great time to prepare for the job search and get applying to set yourself up for hiring spikes in the new year,” Berger said.