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  • About This Episode

    In this episode, we are discussing the different hiring seasons in the cybersecurity industry. After all, understanding the different hiring seasons is essential to reaching your goal of getting hired into your dream cybersecurity role. Many people don’t realize that there are high periods and low periods of hiring throughout the calendar year, so in this episode we are going to discuss the three key hiring periods that occur each year and the reasons behind them. 

    Looking for a job can be challenging, so it is often difficult to land your dream job immediately. By understanding the hiring cycles and where they exist on the calendar, you are going to be able to increase your odds of landing a position faster. Depending on the specific portion of the cybersecurity industry you want to work in, there are better and worse times to submit your application. For example, if you want to get a position working for the government, one of the biggest hiring seasons tends to be in October and November because the Government’s new fiscal year begins on October 1st each year. 

    Throughout this episode, we will focus on the three distinct hiring seasons and which is used in which parts of the industry. This includes the January/February, April/May, October/November hiring seasons.

    Of course, you can find a job at any time during the year, but certain times are better than others as you will learn in this episode. While timing can help increase your odds of success, remember that you still need perseverance, adding value to the organization, and being confident in overcoming challenges to ultimately be successful in your job hunt. 


    What You’ll Learn


    • How does the calendar affect the hiring process?
    • Why do different companies and organization hire more people during specific times of the year?
    • What steps can you take to increase your odds of being hired during that hiring season? 



    Relevant Websites for This Episode



Episode Transcript

Kip Boyle:        

                        Hi, this is Your Cyber Path. We’re the podcast that helps you get your dream cyber security job. I’m Kip Boyle. Jason Dion is here.

                        Hey, we’re experienced hiring managers of cyber security professionals, and we will want to help you get a dream cyber security job for yourself. So today what we’re going to talk about is did you know that there are better times of the year to get hired? And there are times of the year when it’s more like a job desert. And you should know what it is so that you don’t get frustrated when you are actually trying to find a job when there, relatively speaking, aren’t as aren’t as many to be had. So timing matters.

                        So Jason, why? Why does the calendar affect the hiring process? What is this?

Jason Dion:      

                        Yeah, so one of the things I’ve noticed over the last 20 or 30 years of working in or around cyber security and IT is that the calendar does really affect how many jobs are available. Now you got to think about this from the hiring managers perspective, right? Hiring managers and organizations are people, and these people have priorities that shift throughout the year. There are good times and there’s bad times to be looking for a new position.

                        For example, if you were looking for your first job as a teenager, think back all the way back then, for me that was 25 years ago. And I’m thinking back and I wanted to go get that job as a bag boy at a grocery store, right? If I was looking for a job in October, I could walk into any store at the mall or any grocery store, and they’d probably throw an offer at you because they needed seasonal help because Christmas was a huge buying season and things started getting really busy as of around black Friday, which means they needed to hire you and get you on staff before about November 10th to make sure you were there in time for Christmas and be able to be there for Black Friday.

                        Conversely, if you start looking for a job in May or June, that was a really bad time as a teenager to be looking for a job. Why? Because every other teenager was looking for a summer job too, right? Everybody’s looking for a job and therefore, there’s a lot of supply of people, very small demand for jobs. And so this becomes one of those things you have to think about. Timing does matter.

Kip Boyle:        

                        Right. So okay, so in this case, we’re talking about seasonality, right? So we’ve got holidays or we’ve just got a rush of applicants who absolutely want to work because summertime is when they’re not in class and it’s their time to kind of fill up their bank accounts. But okay, but guess what? The same thing happens in the cyber security industry. Now the cycles aren’t exactly the same pattern, but there is seasonality, although it’s happening for different reasons, which we’ll start to unpack in a moment.

                        But before we do, I want to be clear that you could get hired at any time throughout the year. There’s nothing iron clad about what we’re about to reveal to you, but they are trends, right? These are big picture themes and trends and you could get hired at any time during the year, but you may find that employers are more responsive at different times of the year, less responsive in other times of the year. So let’s just go ahead and Jason, let’s just walk through the calendar and see if we can identify some of these big themes.

Jason Dion:      

                        Yeah, so the three big peaks that we’re going to talk about is the January/February hiring season, the April/May hiring season, and the October/November hiring season. And I’m going to explain why those are the three peaks. Now the first one we have is January and February. There’s a couple of reasons why this is one of the bigger hiring seasons that I see for professional level jobs like cyber security. Now a lot of organizations operate on a calendar year budget, so their fiscal year and the calendar matches up.

                        For example, my company does this. We run our calendar for our taxes and our budgets from January 1st to December 31st. That means every time the new year hits, we have a new budget for the year that begins. And that means I have new money that’s available for my Chief Operating Officer to go out and hire new people and get new things that we may need in the organization. Now, not all organizations run January 1st as their fiscal year. I know you work in your own company, Kip, and many other companies.

Kip Boyle:        


Jason Dion:      

                        Do most of them use a January 1st or do they use something different?

Kip Boyle:        

                        Yeah, I’d say most commercial sector organizations are running on a calendar year equals their fiscal year. I’ve noticed that when that doesn’t happen, it’s usually because they’re a publicly traded company and they have some compelling reason why they’re deviating from that. I think a really obvious example of that is going to be a defense contractor, because they’re going to be following Uncle Sam’s fiscal calendar, right? Because that’s when monies are allocated.

                        You also sometimes see this in the university space, right? Because fall term is kind of considered to be the beginning of a school year, and so that’s kind of when their fiscal years start and end, but ever since I left the defense sector, when I got out of active duty, I don’t think I’ve worked for a single organization, publicly traded or not, that wasn’t following the calendar year.

Jason Dion:      

                        Yeah, calendar year is really, really popular. One of the big ones that doesn’t follow it, as Kip just said, is the U.S. government. So if you’re working for the U.S. government, if you’re working for the DOD, the Department of Defense, Department of Treasury, the military, any of those folks, they use an October 1st fiscal year. And that means that every time we get close to October 1st, people start worrying that the budget is not going to get renewed and we have to go into a continuing resolution. And so once they get that October 1st and budget has been approved, all that money opens up again.

                        And so if you’re trying to get a job with the government, you’re going to see that money opens up October 1st, sometimes as late as November or December 1st, because of that continuing resolution. But usually by about August, they have no money left and they’re just holding onto the scraps so no real hiring goes on for them in August and September.

Kip Boyle:        

                        Right, right.

Jason Dion:      

                        Another reason that you’re going to see January and February being a pretty good hiring time is that everyone just got back from holiday vacation, right? If you think about it, most people take off for a lot of time inside of December, because you have Christmas, you have Hanukah, you have other holidays, and then you have New Year’s as well. And so December is notoriously a really, really bad time of the year to look for a job unless you’re working in retail.

Kip Boyle:        

                        Yeah. And even in non defense companies, I’ve seen many that just have a policy of hey, we’re not going to work the last two weeks of the year because the demand for time off is so intense among their workforce that they don’t want to say no to the majority of the people who want to have time off and make it some kind of a competitive kind of a thing where people are getting a little sour because they can’t seem to get the time off that they want. And so it’s actually pretty common to just hey, we’re just not going to work these last two weeks of the year.

Jason Dion:      

                        Yeah, I know in my company, we go down to minimal manning, right? Minimal personnel. So for us, we’ve got 10, 12, 14 people on staff, and generally during the Christmas and New Year time period, we go down to like one to three people who will be there just to answer any basic questions and keep the lights on. But other than that, most of the staff is off doing their vacation stuff, we’re not doing a big course production during those last two weeks of the year.

                        And this is because again, people want to be thinking about Christmas in New Year’s not about writing things like job position descriptions, or getting funding, or filtering resumes, or interviewing candidates. I mean, could you imagine calling up somebody and going, “Hey, I want you to be here on December 23rd for an interview.” That’s just silly, right? That person might be on their side of the U.S. at their family’s house for Christmas at that time.

Kip Boyle:        

                        Right. Right. And even these days where you’re doing almost all of this over Zoom or Teams or whatever, I mean, people just are not … They’re not in the right head space in terms of coming to be interviewed by you, and even if you are the interviewer, you’re probably not in the right head space either. So anyway, so yeah, not a good time of the year.

Jason Dion:      

                        No, definitely. And so because of that, not a lot of hiring is going to happen in December and that creates this backlog. So once we get new money with the new fiscal year, that means huge opportunities for our job seekers, because normally you’re going to see a lot of jobs being posted usually around the 10th to 15th of January because people have gotten back in the office, they’ve had a week to clear out their inboxes, and start putting out those jobs again. So again, that’s why I said you’ll see that big peak there January/February.

Kip Boyle:        

                        Okay, so that’s the first peak, right? We’d said that there’s three peaks. Let’s talk about the next one, just going in chronological order, and that’s going to be in the April to May timeframe, right? So you’re going to get lull in February and March and then it’s going to come back. Jason, why does it pop back? I mean, what do you see?

Jason Dion:      

                        Yeah, so I see a lot in that April/May timeframe because we had that big spike in January/February, people spent a bunch of money, hired a bunch of people, and so March and beginning of April tends to go down. Plus you have Easter in there and you have spring break, so again, you kind of have that holiday period that people take a week or two off and they’re thinking more about family. After that they come back and we get another big spike, right? And that’s going to depend on your organization you’re applying to, but a lot of these new jobs start getting created and funded.

                        And those things that people asked for money back in January and February, in larger organizations, it can take two or three months to get approval to actually go out and post that job. So if I created that position description on January 15th and it took two or three months to get approval to post that job, we’re now sitting in the middle of April. So now we’re going to be advertising it, doing interviews, and doing the applications and interview process and hiring people in at that time.

Kip Boyle:        

                        Yeah, and I think another thing too, is that if I’m hiring and I need somebody and it’s the April/May timeframe, one of the things that I’m also thinking about is okay, summer break is coming up, kids are going to be released from school towards the end of May, early June, and guess what? Now we’re talking about taking vacation, summer break, summer holidays. I don’t really … Again, for the same reason why I’m not going to find anybody in the end of December, it’s going to be really difficult to line up people for interviews over the summer holidays. And so if I need somebody in place before summer hits, then guess what? It’s April/May, and that gives me an opportunity to find them, hire them, start their training. They may finish their training over the summer, but at least I can get them going. So April and May is another peak hiring time.

                        So we said there were three. So the third one, you’re probably not surprised, dear listeners, because we’ve already sort talked about this, but October/November is a huge hiring wave. And especially, why? Because Uncle Sam just released the appropriations for budgets for the fiscal year, and so now we’ve got new money for the big plans that we have. Yeah, what’s that look like for you, Jason, just from your experience from government and defense?

Jason Dion:      

                        Yeah, so on the government defense side for us, one of the biggest times of the year is definitely

                        October/November. We’ve got that new money, we can now go out and fill those new positions. If we’re a defense contracting firm, for instance, we have our new contracts that start on October 1st, so we’re doing a lot of hiring right at the beginning of that October 1st timeline to get people in and get them onto the books.

                        The other thing is we know that we are facing up against some vacation times, right? We already had people who took summer vacations and they pushed off advertising positions until September, so now we’re looking at September and October to advertise those positions and hire people. And therefore, October/November becomes this prime hiring season for onboarding new team members.

                        The other thing is we’re trying to push forward any decisions we might need to make from December into                  

                        October/November. Because again, nobody wants to come in on December 23rd and interview for a job. So we want to make sure that gets done before November. And if you think about the U.S. calendar, if you don’t really get it done by about Thanksgiving, it’s really going to be hard to get it done before Christmas. Because after Thanksgiving, people’s minds just have this switch and they’re in vacation mode.

                        I see it around the office all the time. Everybody’s workflow starts going down, everyone starts thinking about what they’re going to do on vacation, and that happens in the hiring side of the business too. And so by December 10th or so, I start walking around the building and I don’t see anybody around, it looks like a ghost town because people are taking two and three weeks of vacation off to go fly across the country and go be back with their families.

Kip Boyle:        

                        And even if it’s not that, right?

Jason Dion:      

                        So these are the kind of things you see.

Kip Boyle:        

                        Even if it’s not somebody taking an extended vacation, you got all these people taking vacations at different times so you never really know like who’s around, who’s going to be in the office to do an interview. You just don’t have all your team members there.

Jason Dion:      

                        Yeah, definitely. It’s really true, right? And we want to be able to get those people in before everyone goes on vacation because you’re going to need to have all those people training them, all those people onboarding them, and so it becomes really difficult if you don’t get this done in October/November. So we see a lot of people pushing those jobs forward, we have that backlog from the summer, and then we have all that new demand being pushed forward from December.

                        So this is one of those things that you also have to think about of what industry is your company in, right? If you’re trying to get a job with a retail company like Target or Walmart as their cyber security person, they also have a lot of hiring being brought on and a lot of people covering up a lot of the extra work that’s going to be created by all these new employees they’re generating. So they’re going to need additional employees on the IT and cyber security side, even though they’re hiring all this additional retail work as well.

Kip Boyle:        

                        Yeah. Okay, so it turns out there is a lot of seasonality in the cyber security profession, and I think we’ve done a really good job of covering what that seasonality looks like. Again, peak hiring seasons for the year, January/February, April and May, October and November. Hope that’s totally clear about why those are the peaks. And even if you’re on a job search in the valley, it doesn’t mean that you’re not going to find anything there’s always somebody who missed the boat, right?

                        Maybe a hiring manager wasn’t able to get their job posted in time for one of these peak seasons, but they’ve still got to find somebody or maybe a team member that is really crucial has departed suddenly and they can’t leave that seat empty, and so they’re going to go out there and try to hire in these kind of off season times, or at least not peak times. So those are some of the reasons why you might see jobs being advertised and why hiring might happen outside of these peak seasons. But I think that pretty much wraps up this episode, Jason. Did you have any final words?

Jason Dion:      

                        Yeah, the last thing I wanted to say about this is the other thing about those non peak times is that there’s also non peak, especially things like the summer, because other people who are looking for jobs kind of take off that time as well. Think about it as somebody who has kids and they need to stay at home with the kids for the summer because they’re not at school, they may not be in the business of looking for a new job at that point. So even though there’s less jobs available, those who are looking are going to have less competition as well. So there is these ebbs and flows in hiring, both from the supply side, the employee side, and the hiring manager side, which is giving that demand. So keep that in mind as you go out there too.

Kip Boyle:        

                        Right, right. Good. Okay, that wraps up this episode and if you want to check the show notes, it’s very easy to do. Just go to YourCyberPath.com/ 57. That’s the number 5 and the number 7, and listen, while you’re there you might also think about taking this free quiz that we’ve built for you. Simple survey, all you have to do is just go to www.hiredin21days.com, and what does this quiz do? Well, it is actually a diagnostic. It helps you figure out where things are not going well for you as you go out and hunt for jobs.

                        So if you’re struggling, if you’re putting in resumes, resumes, resumes, and you’re not getting invitations to interviews, there could be something wrong with your resume. Maybe you’re getting the interviews, but you’re not getting offers. Maybe you’re getting offers, but they’re not just coming to fruition. Whatever it is that’s getting in the way, we can help diagnose that and we can give you some tips and pointers to help you clear that out, get that obstacle out of the way, so that you can land the dream cyber security job that you want.

                        Okay. So again, go to www.hiredin21days.com, and as you do that, I want you to remember, you’re just one path away from your dream cyber security job. See you next time.

Jason Dion:      

                        See you next time.


Headshot of Kip BoyleYOUR HOST:

Kip Boyle
Cyber Risk Opportunities

Kip Boyle serves as virtual chief information security officer for many customers, including a professional sports team and fast-growing FinTech and AdTech companies. Over the years, Kip has built teams by interviewing hundreds of cybersecurity professionals. And now, he’s sharing his insider’s perspective with you!

Headshot of Jason DionYOUR CO-HOST:

Jason Dion
Dion Training Solutions

Jason Dion is the lead instructor at Dion Training Solutions. Jason has been the Director of a Network and Security Operations Center and an Information Systems Officer for large organizations around the globe. He is an experienced hiring manager in the government and defense sectors.


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