The Best Time of Year to Look for a Job
As with most career advice, the ideal hiring season will depend, at least in part, on your industry. A rule of thumb is that the start of the fiscal year is a good time for most companies to take on new hires because they have new, unused budgets. But this might not mean January and February if your industry or the company you want to work for has an alternative fiscal calendar.
Once you identify the slower hiring months for your next career move, use that time to research companies, prepare answers to difficult interview questions, pursue new skills or experience, polish your resume, and add new networking or job search resources to your repertoire.
Apart from looking at each month for its hiring popularity, coaching and career placement websites have identified early in the week, specifically Tuesday, as having the most new job postings. Broken down even further, they found that 11am is the most common time for new jobs to be listed (followed by 4pm), with most candidates applying around 2pm. So, to be top of the application pile, apply on Tuesday between 11:30am and 1pm—or as soon as the listing appears!
For most office jobs, January and February are peak application, interview, and hiring months. Companies have received their new year budgets and sales forecasts. They’re looking to fill new positions as well as those vacated by people who have left the company at the end of the year after bonuses have been paid.
The downside to early year hiring is the slower pace and the competition. Because hiring managers feel they have more time before project deadlines and they have more applicants to get through, the interview to hiring process can spread over weeks or more. Be prepared for this pace and plan to keep your name at the top of their mind by sending follow up emails and a phone call if it’s been two weeks since your last communication with HR.
The late winter hiring season usually lasts well into or through spring, although the most competitive and higher-level and -paying jobs may already be filled by early spring. However, if a good-fit position is still open by May, you could have more bargaining power in your application because hiring managers will want to fill the position before summer vacations begin, a new product or service is launched, the industry conference is held, etc. That sense of urgency can work in your favor to speed up the hiring process.
Summer can be a slow hiring month outside of entry-level jobs. Managers use their greater number of paid vacation days to travel, so it can be difficult to get all of the people involved in the hiring process in the office at the same time. Use the summer to research companies and prepare for the next wave of hiring in the fall.
The exception to this general trend is if a company is preparing to make seasonal hires for the fall or even for the holiday shopping season.
Autumn is the third and final hiring wave of the year. After the summer of vacations, closed schools, and conferences, work and hiring increases as companies push to meet final end-of-year sales numbers, finish projects, hire employees with specialized skills they realize they need to meet product delivery expectations, etc. Hiring managers are always aware that any unfilled positions at the end of the year may be viewed as redundant or unnecessary and axed.
All of this makes fall a good time to stay active on job boards. Reach out to contacts and anyone who’s said they’ll keep your resume on file to remind them of what you can bring to the table and if they have a need for your skills. You might get an interview before a job posting is even created.
Now’s a good time to pick up seasonal work to help bridge the gap between better paying jobs, or secure part-time work at a company you admire so you have a foot in the door. For full-time jobs, if the position isn’t filled by November, chances are managers will put off more interviews until after the new year. Most department budgets are usually already spent, making it hard to onboard a new employee with a salary and benefits.