If you’re planning to make a few hires this fall, you should know that your competitors probably have the same idea. As Monster reports, September is one of the most popular months for hiring, right up there with the post-holiday/first-quarter rush of January.

Fall is generally a busy hiring season because the lazier, vacation-laden months of summer are coming to an end. As organizations kick it into high gear for the final quarter of the year, many also begin looking for new high-caliber employees to add to their teams.

Want to get ahead of the game and ensure you emerge victorious from this fall’s new-hire frenzy? Follow these tips:

1. Start Advertising Your Jobs Now

September is a long way away. You’ve got time, right?

Consider that the average hiring process takes 27 days from start to finish – that is, from the moment the job is opened to the moment it is filled. If you want to make a hire for September, you should start looking for candidates in early August at the absolute latest.

But that’s not all: While the average hiring process takes almost a month, the best candidates are often snatched from the market in just ten days. That means you have to move extra fast if you want top talent to choose you over your competitors. Why make it even harder on yourself by waiting until other organizations are also in need? Get a leg up and start advertising your role now.

When advertising roles, make sure to use the right channels to do so. Posting your ads to any and every possible job board and social media channel will only end up attracting large numbers of unqualified job seekers. Instead, you want to take a targeted approach. Find out which job boards, social media sites, forums, and other online locations have large populations of the kind of talent you need. Focus your advertising efforts there. For example, if you need developers, advertise your jobs where developers hang out.

2. Create a Robust Onboarding and Training Program

Another advantage of advertising your roles early: You can start training your new hires before competitors have even posted their openings.

US-V01-300x250ptember won’t be fully productive until April of next year! If you start advertising jobs now and making hires before September rolls around, you’ll be able to start training your new hires sooner. While competing organizations are still onboarding their employees, your workers will be at full productivity.

Of course, for this to work out, you’ll need robust onboarding and training programs in place. If you don’t have those yet, plan them out now. Make sure your programs are as smooth and efficient as possible. Employees should emerge feeling totally integrated into the culture and knowing everything they need to know in order to succeed.

3. Ask Your Employees for Referrals

Be sure to let existing employees know that your company is gearing up to make new hires. If possible, you may want to let them know even before you go public with the roles.

Employee referrals tend to produce the best hires. Employees hired by way of referral take less time to onboard and are more likely to stay with the company for longer. Roughly 90 percent of employers and recruiters agree that referred employees are “higher quality” than other hires. Getting the referral train moving now increases the chances of one of your employees bringing a top-tier candidate your way before you have to look for an outside candidate.

4. Consider Offering Incentives

This step is especially important if you’re hiring seasonal, temporary, or part-time workers instead of full-time salaried employees.

How will your company convince workers to choose your organization over all the other companies making seasonal hires at the same time? Incentives are key. Can you offer employees discounts on goods and services? Higher wages? Steady schedules? Anything you can offer that competitors can’t will be a good way to get workers flocking to you.

In recruiting, as in life, the early bird gets the worm. Maybe you’re rolling your eyes now, but consider this: The reason it’s such a cliché is because it’s true! Get your September recruiting efforts off to an early start, and you’ll be reaping the benefits of great hires while your competitors are still scrambling to get their roles posted.

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