Q4 Hiring Challenges


A hiring manager recently asked me, which quarter of the year is the most difficult to recruit and hire people. Great question, and I thought you may be interested in the answer.

First, I want to say that hiring is never easy, but it becomes especially difficult in Q4 at least as it is related to the Pharmaceutical Industry. Unlike any other quarter of the year, Q4 poses to most significant challenges…Why?


The first major challenge is that hiring in the fourth quarter is expensive. Candidates have worked nearly a whole year with their company, exceeding expectations, and dreaming about how all their hard work will pay off come bonus time. Now if they leave, they are walking into a situation where they may not be eligible for a bonus at your company. What has become “customary” is to pay out sign-on bonuses to keep the person whole for their loss of annual bonus. This becomes expensive and a challenge for some companies to pull off. If you’re at a company that won’t buy out a candidate’s bonus, then you’re forced to target candidates without bonuses, like those who are between jobs or come with no experience.


But the expense is only one part of the problem, the second challenge is the psychological one. As the year draws to an end, people’s minds aren’t in job change mode. They are focusing on wrapping up projects and getting through the finish line of a long year. Once Thanksgiving approaches with the winter holidays right around the corner, people shift to vacation and family mode. Some candidates may have major vacations already planned, approved, and paid for, which deters them from considering new opportunities.


Another thing to consider is candidate who need to relocate… when the fourth quarter hits, their kids are about a month into a new school year, which may be an awkward time for them to think about a new role that may require them to relocate.

These challenges really pose a problem, and the Q4 candidate pool really dries up quickly, which is bad news for managers trying to fill spots in Q4, especially those who may lose the headcount if they don’t use it. That doesn’t mean you can’t hire in Q4, but if we had to pick a quarter that is the toughest, Q4 is the dubious winner of the award.

Needless to say, if you’re feeling the Q4 Crunch and need some recruiting help, I’d welcome the opportunity to partner with you. Thanks!

One Strategic Partnership. Many Solutions.