Is the holiday season the right time to launch your job search?

by Ashlee Wagner
Vice President at Charles Aris Inc.

It’s safe to assume that most of us are ready to wash our hands of 2020 and welcome a new year with open arms. The holiday season has always been a great time to reflect on the joys, challenges and silver linings of the current year and to enjoy time with family and friends – even if it might look different in a pandemic.

For a lot of top strategy and corporate development professionals, year-end reflection can spark an interest in considering a new career opportunity. Conversely, a pending bonus, the “reopening” of the recruiting market and year-end budgets can cause some potential candidates to pause before launching a full-blown job search. Whether you know if it’s the right time to leave or not, there are a few items to consider before pumping the brakes on your search.

While you might be thinking about holding off, a lot of hiring managers in corporate America are doing the complete opposite. Pushing through final hires for A-level talent prior to the end of the year can enable hiring managers to have stress-free holidays, knowing that their benches of talent are full and ready to go come the new year. If your goal is to start a new role in the first few months of 2021, the time to interview is now!

Concerned about going through the interview process now, knowing you have a pending bonus on the horizon? We absolutely understand. We’ve also heard differing messages regarding 2020 bonus payouts — some firms are projecting minimal payouts while others have had record years and are acting accordingly. If you’re anticipating a hefty bonus payout at year-end but are confident that now is the right time, we typically see clients get creative in two ways to help bridge the gap:

Sign-on bonus: While this might not be an option for all organizations, some will be able to provide a sign-on bonus to cover any bonus or large equity vest that you would miss if you leave before the payout. Depending on the amount of your bonus or equity, most organizations may not be able to make up the total amount of what you’re leaving behind; so think about how much you’re willing to leave on the table and what it would take to walk away from a portion or all of your bonus and / or unvested equity.

Delayed start date: Many employers – especially those with former consultants or bankers on their teams – are willing to be flexible with a delayed start date that enables you to receive the bonus you worked hard to earn this year. Understanding that comfort level up-front is key to managing both your expectations and those of your prospective employer.

Keep in mind that any career transition takes time to not only think through what is right for you and your loved ones, but to go through formal interview processes as well. With all that has happened in 2020, reflecting on what matters personally and professionally is top of mind for nearly every candidate we speak with (and rightfully so). Getting started on your search now could result in the perfect ending to the year or the type of 2021 kickoff you’ve been seeking!