Skip to main content

Strike While the Iron is Hot - How to Make the September Surge Work for You

As summer winds down, hiring activity begins to pick up as companies strive to fill open roles prior to year-end budget deadlines. For job seekers, the “September Surge,” which starts in September but lasts into the holiday hiring season, represents a prime chance to land a new role after what might’ve felt like a quiet summer of hiring activity.

Let’s take a closer look at the September Surge, what it is, and what you can do to help your chances of finding a new job heading into the final months of the year.

What Factors Drive the September Hiring Surge?
A combination of logical, psychological and economic factors fuel the annual September hiring surge. Hiring managers return from summer breaks with renewed energy and focus to tackle staffing gaps as companies are compelled to utilize their remaining budgets for the year, prompting them to fill vacant positions faster. Recruiters also face mounting pressure to meet their annual hiring targets as time runs out, leading to intensified efforts to source and hire top talent. Additionally, favorable economic indicators, such as labor shortages, increasing consumer confidence, improved retail sales, easing inflation pressures, and stock market rebounds, further fuel this surge.

Seize the Surge
Now that we’ve covered what the September Surge is, lets focus on what you can do to take advantage of this time to help secure a new job opportunity. Here are  these 10 tips to capitalize on the current hiring demand:

1) Craft an Impactful Resume and LinkedIn Profile
It may be the most obvious first thing you do, but if you haven’t already, take time to optimize both your resume and LinkedIn profile. Both can serve as critical first impressions to hiring managers and recruiters and you should ensure each showcase your top skills, achievements and qualifications.

On your resume, prominently highlight 3-5 key skills that align with the target job. Provide concrete examples of projects where you successfully utilized these abilities. Quantify your achievements with metrics showing the impact you delivered. Tailor your resume content to each application, emphasizing different skills for relevance.

Your LinkedIn profile should echo your resume with concise summaries of your experiences, skills and accomplishments. Include keywords from the target job postings to boost search optimization. Set your profile visibility to public, and turn on notifications to be discoverable to more recruiters.

2) Build an Engaging Personal Brand Across Channels
Expand your digital presence to complement your resume and LinkedIn profile. Consider creating a professional website, online portfolio or developing your brand on top social platforms. This expanded digital presence makes you more visible as a top talent:

  • A portfolio site allows you to showcase work samples, projects, presentations, publications and other materials that demonstrate your abilities. Optimize written content for SEO to improve discoverability.

  • Publishing relevant articles and thought leadership builds expertise. Contribute posts on LinkedIn, Medium or industry publications. Start a blog discussing your specialty area. Create video content for your own YouTube channel or TikTok profile to uniquely display your skills, highlighting your talents, or sharing professional advice.

  • Active, professional social media profiles let you network broadly and exhibit knowledge. Participate regularly on X (formerly known as Twitter), Instagram, other your other social channels of choice, or niche communities like GitHub.

3) Network Intentionally Online and Offline
Expand your connections through intentional networking online and offline. Aim to make new contacts while strengthening existing relationships:

  • Connect with colleagues, recruiters, hiring managers and other professionals on LinkedIn. Engage by liking and commenting on their posts to stay top of mind.

  • Follow companies and key employees on social media to gain insight. Like and share their content while engaging professionally to get noticed.

  • Attend industry events, conferences, meetups and trade shows to network in person. Come prepared with business cards and your elevator pitch. Follow up to stay connected.

  • Inform your existing network about your search to tap into their knowledge and referrals. Let people know what roles you are targeting and the types of companies you want to work for.

  • Connect with alumni from your university or past companies. Fellow alumni are often happy to help those from their organization.

The goal is to create a robust professional network to expose you to “hidden” opportunities that may not be advertised publicly.

4) Develop a Compelling Elevator Pitch
Your elevator pitch is a 30-60 second summary that describes your experience, skills, interests and career goals. A compelling elevator pitch serves as an introduction that captures people's attention so they want to keep the conversation going. 

Focus your pitch on highlighting impressive facts or achievements that make you stand out from other candidates. Remember the metrics we talked about during the resume section? Bring them up here too. For example, “I helped increase sales by 30% over 2 years by optimizing lead conversion strategies.” 

Practice your pitch frequently so you can deliver it naturally in any setting. Be ready to expand on your introduction and discuss your background in more detail. An elevator pitch is a valuable tool for networking, interviews, career fairs and other opportunities to market yourself.

5) Optimize Your Online Applications
While applying for open positions, ensure your documents are optimized for each submission: 

  • Carefully review the job description highlighting requirements and buzzwords. Incorporate matching keywords and terminology from the posting into your resume and cover letter.

  • Submit requested materials like a resume, cover letter, portfolio or code samples tailored to match the position. Follow all application instructions closely.

  • Mention the company and role title specifically in your cover letter. Research the business to reference initiatives or values that resonate with your background.

  • Apply as early as possible, which improves your chances versus applying right before the deadline. Set up job alerts to be notified of suitable openings.

  • Follow up after applying to reiterate your interest and qualifications. Ask about next steps and the expected timeline. Periodic polite check-ins help keep you top of mind.

Submitting customized, optimized applications signals preparation and serious interest in the organization.

6) Leverage Your Existing Contacts
Networking within your current circles can provide access to unadvertised opportunities: 

  • Ask colleagues, friends, and family if their organizations have any open positions. Even if roles aren’t posted publicly, submitting your resume could lead to an interview.

  • Connect with former managers, directors, and coworkers who have moved to new companies. They can refer you if there are relevant openings.

  • Join alumni and professional groups on LinkedIn and Facebook to network with fellow members. Post about your search to crowdsource leads.

  • Attend industry meetups and conferences to expand your network. Connect with attendees before and after events.

Referrals often give candidates a major advantage, as employees can vouch for you as a known quantity versus an unknown applicant.

7) Ace the Interview Process 
Interview preparation is vital to sealing the deal once you get your foot in the door. Make sure you’re ready but employing these strategies:

  • Research the company, industry and role thoroughly so you can discuss trends, challenges and competitors. Have thoughtful questions ready to ask the interviewer to showcase your interest.

  • Review typical interview questions and prepare stories highlighting times you exhibited key skills needed for the job. Quantify your achievements.

  • Practice frequently via mock interviews with colleagues, mentors or the mirror. Get feedback to refine your responses and delivery. Record yourself to assess areas needing polishing.

  • Dress professionally and arrive early. Greet interviewers confidently with a smile and firm handshake. Be polite to everyone you encounter. Send thank you notes after the meeting.

The more practice responding to likely questions, the more confident and compelling you will be during the actual interviews. Preparation leads to a much smoother experience.

8) Explore Diverse Job Types
Consider exploring alternative job formats beyond typical full-time roles: 

  • Contract, temporary or part-time positions allow you to gain new skills and exposure to different companies to expand your experience.

  • Freelance or consulting work provides flexibility while enabling you to take on projects from multiple clients.

  • Internships, fellowships and apprenticeships let you get your foot in the door and prove yourself, which can lead to a full-time offer.

  • Startup companies provide the ability to join a rapidly growing business and take on diverse responsibilities as part of a small team.

  • Nonprofit and volunteer roles enable you to give back while showcasing your abilities. The skills gained are transferable to for-profit companies.

Thinking creatively about job formats can help you gain valuable new skills and experiences that distinguish your background.

9) Seek Feedback to Improve
If you aren’t advancing in the interview process, proactively seek feedback: 

  • Ask the recruiter or hiring manager what skills or experiences other candidates had that better matched the role requirements. Use this intel to fill any gaps.

  • Request feedback from the interviewers about your resume, portfolio or interview performance. Ask how you can improve to be a stronger candidate.

  • Have a friend or mentor do a mock interview with you and provide frank feedback. Assess your demeanor, responses, body language and overall presentation.

  • Record yourself during practice interviews to spot areas you can polish. Note any nervous tics or filler words overused so you can minimize them.

Honest feedback will give you clear objectives for improvement so you can refine your search strategy accordingly. View interviews as practice rather than pass/fail scenarios.

10) Take Care of Yourself
The job search process can be stressful and time consuming. It may sound counter-intutitve, but be sure to maintain self-care and take breaks. Here’s how:

  • Make time every day to decompress through exercise, enjoying hobbies, socializing with friends or practicing mindfulness techniques. Don’t let the search consume you.

  • Follow a healthy diet and stay hydrated. Stress can derail your mood and health if you aren’t careful. Drink plenty of water and eat balanced meals.

  • Set regular work hours for your job search efforts so you have downtime in the evenings and weekends. Business hours are best for contacting companies.

  • Limit checking job sites and emails to 2-3 designated times per day for a set time period. Constantly obsessing creates unnecessary anxiety.

  • Share frustrations and seek encouragement from loved ones. They can provide perspective and support when the process feels daunting.

Prioritizing mental health and self-care will give you the stamina and positivity needed to carry you through to landing the perfect job.

The September hiring surge is a window of opportunity that shouldn't be missed. By understanding the forces that drive this phenomenon and adopting strategic approaches, you can effectively navigate the competitive landscape and position yourself for success. Remember, the surge is not merely a fleeting moment but a reminder to remain committed to your career growth year-round. Embrace the momentum, harness your motivation, and embark on a journey towards securing your next great role.