When Is the Best Time to Find a Job?
Pros and Cons of Job Seeking in Each Month of the Year
When it comes to job hunting, timing is key. Getting your resume in front of the right person at the moment—just as they are ready to begin the task of hiring—is, of course, a huge advantage. However, since we can’t precisely predict when that moment is (particularly when applying for work-at-home jobs), taking a look at hiring trends all year long can be helpful in maximizing your job search efforts.
Keep in mind that hiring happens all year long, even in the summer doldrums or the hectic holidays, so don’t quit looking during the slower months, but use this resource to help you plan when to devote more time to your job search.
For those job seekers too busy during the holidays to send out resumes and who are now ready for a fresh start, January is prime time. However, the labor market actually contracts in January. Many positions are advertised in January but not necessarily hired in this month. Still, many companies do ramp up in the first quarter in order to meet the new goals and initiatives in the new year. Additionally, it follows the holiday season, when vacations and year-end tasks have taken the focus off hiring.
Also employees may retire or leave positions at the end of the year, and their replacements will be hired at this time.
However, competition for jobs is greater in January as all those job seekers flood the market. That sense of starting fresh that the new year inspires prompts job seekers to get motivated during the first month of the year.
February is when hiring in the new year begins in earnest. Not every hiring manager is ready to get started at the very beginning of January and when there are multiple positions to be filled some will receive the hiring managers focus a little later, so February is still busy. Job seekers should keep at the applications.
The beginning of the year hiring push continues. It actually peaks in April with that month having most jobs advertised and the most hiring in the first half of the year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In the spring, tourism and hospitality industries start gearing up for summer. Schools beginning planning for the next school year, though hiring decisions can still be months away at this point. And generally, hiring managers are looking to fill open positions before the summer months when key decision-makers begin taking vacations in the summer.
With June begins the summer season. During the early part of the month when many schools are still in session the vacation exodus has not begun, and there may still be some hiring activity. And some last-minute seasonal hiring may still be happening. But over all there is a downturn in hiring in June.
Not only do vacation schedules of key decision-makers cause hiring to become more difficult in the depth of summer, but at many companies there is a general slowdown of the pace of work in the summer. Resumes sent during this time can be lost in a person’s inbox who is on vacation and not forwarded to the right person until it’s too late.
This month is the low point for hiring; that said, it is also a low point for job seeking. Not only are the decision-makers taking vacations so are the people looking for jobs. And so that does give the motivated job seeker a bit of an advantage as competition decreases for those jobs that must be hired during this season. And keep up that networking all summer; you may get good insight on a company’s hiring plans for the fall.
The start of August is much like July, but by mid-August vacations are winding down (particularly in areas where school starts in August), and people are looking ahead to September. The first half of the year’s financials are available, and companies are ready to plan for the fourth quarter. So new opening will start to appear during the second half of this month, so have that resume ready.
In September, people truly get back to work—both the hiring managers and the job seekers. With the first half of the year’s financials available and often a desire to use what’s been budgeted for the current years, managers are thinking in the fall about how to make new hires before the end of the year.
As with January, those September hiring initiative may not get off the ground until fairly late in the month or actually the next month, October. Much like April is the peak for jobs in the spring, October is the peak in the fall. But in October, managers are more keenly aware of the upcoming holiday slowdown. Not only do managers need to hire people before the holidays, but many will want to onboard them prior to the holiday season too, so the pressure is on.
Early November hiring may still be strong as it rolls forward from the busy month of October, but by Thanksgiving the hot autumn job market has cooled considerable.
Traditional wisdom has been that between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, it’s practically pointless to job search. No one’s hiring! Alison Doyle, Job Search Expert, debunks that myth pointing out that “employers are still hiring and there may be less competition from other job seekers this time of year.”
Some companies may have positions that need to be filled by December 31. And the previous positions of all those people who found new jobs in September and October may still be open and need to be filled.
All that said, there is definitely a slowdown this time of year, but it also a good time to network with all the holiday events. And unlike in summer when vacations could be going on at any point and your resume lost in someone’s inbox, during this time of year it’s more predictable when a hiring manager might be gone-- the weeks of Christmas and Thanksgiving.