"This Is The Time To Look For A Job": Here's Why Recruiters Are Saying The "September Surge" Is Coming

Job searching is almost never easy, but lately I've been seeing some online chatter that we're heading into one of the best times of the year to land a new job. From TikTok to Instagram to X, formerly known as Twitter, people are talking about the upcoming hiring season, calling it the "September surge."

September 2023 calendar with the day after Labor Day circled in red
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I first encountered this term last August when Dan Space (@dan_from_hr) posted a TikTok letting people know that this hot hiring moment was about to arrive. In case he hasn't graced your feed, you should know that Dan is a senior HR pro with over two decades of experience in corporate America, and he also contributed some really great insights in our guide to refreshing your dusty old résumé for 2023.

Dan from HR saying the September surge is here

In the original video, Dan explains, "The first week of September after Labor Day up until about Halloween is one of the best times to look for work — many of us nicknaming this time the September surge. Please make sure your LinkedIn is updated with the right keywords, the right keyword strings, and a strong headline. This is the time you're going to start being contacted by a lot of recruiters as they look to finish up their end-of-the-year closes."

@dan_from_hr / Via tiktok.com

Some commenters chimed in to share that they've landed jobs during this time:

"I've gotten every professional job I've had in October"

While those on the hiring side admitted that they'd been slow over the summer and were expecting to ramp up:

"Also because it took me all summer to write this job description and send it to HR"

Dan told BuzzFeed that he first noticed hiring picking up in September way back in 2009: "This was the year after the economy crashed, so we were curious on how we all of a sudden had started making significant hiring decisions. We began to uncover all of it — managers that had been somewhat lazy with candidate review had turned aggressive, and all the roles that were approved for the year that we had staggered were now being reviewed and posted. We assumed it was a result of the business picking up, as we had made several large deals that year, but then we started noticing it every year."

"Now hiring" sign in a window
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Once he noticed the September surge, he realized it came up like clockwork: "We'd hire slow in January and February, decent in March, high in April and May, plummet in June and July, and August became the calm before the storm as September and October skyrocketed. I began noticing this trend at every single company — and it was even MORE apparent if the company had a presence in Europe." Not me with a tear in my eye thinking about all the lucky Europeans who take the month of August off work.

Person handing their résumé to a recruiter
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As for the kinds of jobs or industries that tend to do a lot of hiring right now, Dan said, "My speculation would be any industries in which the ramp-up time leads to a heavy January (health as an example), as you want to ensure your staff are trained by the time New Year's resolutions come. Any company that runs on a specific calendar for financial reporting may want to focus on that."

So how can job seekers take advantage of this moment? Dan advised, "August is the time to PREPARE." He especially emphasized optimizing your LinkedIn profile with keywords related to the role you want to make it easier for recruiters to find you. "LinkedIn is the most powerful resource and tool for any kind of role we'd call office/corporate work, which can be quite lucrative. You can teach LinkedIn how to work for you, how to search for things on your behalf, teach it that you are a job seeker, so that you rank higher in search and receive more invitations to open roles from recruiters."

@dan_from_hr / Via tiktok.com

Dan also shared a few common pitfalls that job seekers should avoid. First, he said that many people aren't using the right language to be discovered for the roles they want on LinkedIn. "If you're a senior manager, social media marketing is a correctly phrased job family, discipline, and level. But if in your headline or About Me you say, 'I curate the journey of our customers through imaginative storytelling to build and enhance a mutually beneficial relationship,' no recruiter will find you. Take the time to understand the difference between your job function, family, discipline, and role and the generalized expectations all companies use to describe the purpose of it." A great start can be looking at the keywords in job postings you're targeting and making sure they're in your headline and profile.

Overhead view of a person typing on a laptop
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Another common error — lacking specificity in the roles you're looking for, which can spread your efforts too thin. "You could potentially build a résumé and LinkedIn that is tailored towards both operations management and project management because of the overlap, but if you try to do social nedia marketing, recruiting, and data analyst, your job search will be too unorganized." Staying focused on one field is much easier than trying to apply for every job under the sun.

Woman stressing out during a job interview
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Finally, he advised, "Stop applying to the 'hot roles' at the 'best-paying companies' when we are in a bad labor market. Unless you've been a product manager at another international tech giant, you aren't going to be selected as a product manager at Google. Instead, find the 'backdoor' roles. Every job family has them. They aren't as sexy, popular, or well known, but they pay well and companies need them, and in place of experience, some managers will hire based on familiarity. Perfect examples of this are benefits, immigration, compliance, localization, quality assurance, etc."

Laid-off person carrying a box that says "I need a job"
Peter Dazeley / Getty Images

As always, if you're looking for a job, I recommend taking some time to make sure your social media presence isn't giving hiring managers the ick; also consider using advanced search methods to discover roles that really fit you, and brush up on your interviewing skills (maybe with an assist from AI). Oh, and don't forget to negotiate your salary! You deserve to get paid what you're worth.

Follow Dan on TikTok.