Why February is the best hiring month

February is recognized as one of the best hiring months of the year. In 2020, the national unemployment rate was 3.5 percent, a percentage lower than in February 2019.

Although it’s too early to tell how this February will compare, we asked two experts to share why hiring numbers are often stronger this time of year.

Lakeisha Robichaux, the founder of human resources strategy firm Chief of Minds in Baton Rouge, said newly approved budgets allow for more hiring in February. “Leadership, department managers, and HR have had an opportunity to review gaps in the workplace from the previous year,” said Robichaux. “And now it’s time to fuel talent growth.”

But this isn’t just any February. The pandemic has affected the workplace and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate stands at 6.7 percent (as of December 2020.) However, experts say companies are starting to hire again, and some changes that first deemed temporary are on their way to becoming permanent.

3 hiring trends according to the experts

1. Remote work is here to stay

“The number one hiring trend during the pandemic (and beyond) is remote hiring,” said Robichaux. “Many companies shifted from onsite to offsite with no timeline to return. Interestingly, the shift led to a productive, more cost-effective way of working and delivering services and/or products.”

Robichaux says her company transitioned from a brick and mortar establishment to an ongoing remote setup. “Prior to the pandemic, we worked from home once a week, however, the transition to ongoing remote setup has me thinking twice about returning to an onsite model.”

2. Strong focus on DE&I

Companies are revising their recruiting strategies and development plans to include diversity, equality and inclusion as a primary focus.

“Developing, maintaining, and promoting, diverse and inclusive leaders and culture is not a checklist,” said Robichaux. “It has to be at the core of the business. From the way the company communicates, operates, plans, engages and delivers. Simply put, adding a ‘DE&I strategy’ is not enough to be successful. Candidates (and employees) want to understand what DE&I means to the company, why it is valued, initiatives to support it, and how it impacts them (no fluff allowed).”

3. Companies are hiring again

Christina Stokes, director of talent acquisition at Rubenstein, says she’s always found January to be a ramp-up month in terms of hiring. “So that by the time you get to February, everything that was pending budget approvals for the New Year can move forward,” says Stokes. “And candidates who were in a holding pattern over the holidays can finally be confirmed.”

Stokes also says firms like the communications and reputation management company she works for are hiring again.

“I’ve noticed an increase in hiring in some industries that were hit pretty hard during the pandemic, including in the public relations industry, where I work,” said Stokes. “Companies have hit a point where they need to regain traction in their staffing in order to continue to move forward successfully, or in some cases, recover from losses.”

The hiring process at Rubenstein is currently fully virtual as the teams have not yet returned to the office due to COVID-19. Stokes says candidates meet a variety of her colleagues, both from human resources and executive staff to account team members.

“My firm has been hiring actively again, and we’re focusing on different business lines across the agency,” said Stokes. “I’m confident in our position as employers at this time. The available candidate pool is vast, too, as many people experienced layoffs.”

To confirm how February 2021 performed compared to years prior, we’ll have to wait until March to obtain unemployment rates from the U.S. Department of Labor.