Is There A Best Time To Look For Jobs?
Yep, there are certain times in the year that are far better than others to apply for jobs. After finishing this article you will know the best times to apply for jobs, as well as the worst times of the year to apply.
We’re going to go month-by-month so you’ll also be able to evaluate how strong or weak any given month is.
#1 Best Time to Apply for Jobs: January and February
The beginning of the calendar year (January and February) is a great time for hiring and interviewing in most industries. In fact it’s probably the best time to apply for jobs all year. Industries will differ from each other slightly of course, but January and February are strong months overall.
January tends to start slowly as hiring managers often don’t come back from their holiday vacations until the 2nd week of the month. But once that happens, hiring activities pick up rapidly and interviewing starts to happen with higher frequency.
This is the time of year when the greatest number of decision-makers are in the office at the same time. Things get done and things move quickly! That’s great news for any job seeker.
Another big reason for the boost in hiring activities in these late winter months is that companies often get their new budgets for the year in January, and a lot of the hiring activity that was delayed in November and December can now move forward. Companies pay bonuses in December or January often as well, so it’s a known fact that employees don’t like to make moves before this happens. Many industries have adjusted to this and just accepted the fact that December is slow, and January/February are a great time to do some hiring.
Still Very Good: March, April, May
The initial spike of hiring activity from Jan and Feb usually provides momentum until the summer months, when large numbers of people start taking vacations.
That means March, April and May are still excellent times to apply for new positions and line up as many interviews as possible.
As you approach the summer months, companies are eager to complete the hiring process too, so that could work in your favor.
Example: You start the interview process in early May. After a couple of rounds of interviews, it’s near the end of May, and two key members of the team including the hiring manager are going on vacation early next month. They’re likely to put an emphasis on finishing the process with you before they leave! Whereas they might drag their feet otherwise (if you’ve interviewed enough you’ll know that sometimes companies take FOREVER to finalize things).
They might not set your start date until they get back from vacation. But they’ll finalize the paperwork, make you an offer, and hope to get your acceptance before they take off. All good news.
This won’t always happen but it’s a likely scenario that can work in your favor. Obviously each company is different and it’s entirely possible a hiring manager will say, ‘let’s finish this up as soon as I return from vacation.’ In my experience this is less likely to be the approach they take. And regardless, March, April and May are still above average months to job hunt.
Bad Time to Look for a Job: June, July, August
The summer months are definitely NOT one of the best times to apply for jobs. These months tend to see a drop off in hiring and interviewing activity. Managers tend to take vacations more often during this time of year, and it’s harder to get a team together to conduct a face-to-face interview. Companies also fill many of their open positions during the hiring push that occurs at the beginning of the year (In January and February), so there’s less of a need by the time June, July, and August come around.
It’s only natural that after a spike in hiring activity, there will be a dip in hiring activity. Unfortunately for summer job seekers, the big spike in activity in January and February will leave you with less options in the summer.
So, this isn’t the best time to look for a job. That doesn’t mean there aren’t any jobs to be had; you just have to search a little bit harder.
Overall, summer can be challenging for job seekers and hiring managers alike, because it’s tough to get the right collection of decision-makers to be present at the same time. However, you might be able to stand out due to the fact that there are less applicants during the summer months. Because of this, it’s still worthwhile to do some job hunting in the summertime.
#2 Best Time to Apply for Jobs: September, October
You’re probably starting to see a pattern here- hiring happens in waves. Just like summer was slow, the early fall season sees an increase in hiring as more of the hiring managers return from vacation. This allows interviews to occur with less downtime in between the interview steps. The hiring process is smoother overall during this time of year.
This period might is almost as great for hiring and interviewing as the early winter months listed at the beginning of this article. Depending on the company or industry it might even be better. So September and October are definitely in the conversation for the best time to look for a job.
Bad Time to Apply for Jobs: November, December
At the beginning of this article I mentioned that January and February are the best time to apply for jobs. Because of that, the end of December is a great time to send out job applications and start planning your search! I don’t want this last piece of the article to discourage anyone from starting the job search process and getting a leg up on the competition.
That said, November and December and typically pretty bad times if you’re hoping to get a lot of interviews and see job offers fast. Here’s why…
As the middle of November arrives, hiring managers and HR departments tend to put aside their hiring goals, opting to save the bulk of their hiring activities until the beginning of the next calendar year when new budgets are in place and it’s easier to schedule interviews and get everyone together for meetings.
Late November is a popular time for vacations, and so is all of December. The odds of finding common availability to schedule an interview or meeting during this period simply isn’t very high.
The final two weeks of December are extremely popular vacation weeks, and even the beginning of December often sees a very large drop in hiring activity in anticipation of these upcoming breaks.
However, like I mentioned at the start of this section, you might still consider submitting your job applications in December so that you’re ahead of the competition when everyone returns to the office in January!
At any given time, at least someone from HR will be in the office. Just don’t expect to receive a whole lot of interviews right away, aside from the initial phone call maybe. If you do get some, it’ll be a pleasant surprise. As long as you don’t mind that, the end of December can be a great strategic time to start your job search.
UPDATE: If you are starting to look for jobs or have interviews coming up, I just finished documenting my proven step-by-step interview preparation method. It will give you a big advantage over the competition while saving you hours in prep work. If this sounds interesting you can learn more about it here.