The 2 Best Times of Year to Apply for Jobs (And When to Avoid)

best time to apply for jobs and look for a job

 

Note: If you’re looking for the best days or times of the week to apply for jobs, you can read it in this article. The article below is about which months are best.

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 instantly know whether you’re in a good or bad month.

Why January/February is the best time to apply for jobs:

The beginning of the year (January and February) is a great time for getting hired in most industries. In fact it’s probably the best time to apply for jobs all year in most industries.

January usually starts slowly as people come back from holiday vacations but by the second week of the month, things are running smoothly. Once that happens, hiring pick up pretty fast and lots of interviews start to happen.

This is the time of year when the greatest number of decision-makers are in the office together, so you can get a “Yes” much faster and start that new job you want!

Another reason these two months are so good: Companies usually get their new hiring budgets for the year in January, and a lot of the hiring activity that was delayed in November and December can now move forward.

So they’ll have a backlog of jobs that need to be filled, and you can come in and fill it!

Many companies also pay annual bonuses in December, so a lot of people wait until January to change jobs. Companies expect this so they look to make lots of new hires in January. One more reason it’s a great time of year to search for jobs.

March, April, and May are also good for a few reasons:

The surge in hiring in Jan and Feb usually keeps some momentum until summer arrives (more on that in the next section). So March, April and May are still great times to try to line up a ton of interviews and land a new job.

As you get closer to summers, companies feel more pressure to finish the interview process and hire somebody. So that can help you out too! This is because they know people in the copany will go on vacation in the summer and it’ll be harder to finish up the hiring process.

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 are going on vacation next month.

They’re likely to rush to finish the process with you before they leave. Normally they might drag their feet and put it lower on their list of priorities (if you’ve interviewed enough you’ll know that sometimes companies take FOREVER to finalize things).

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.”

Why June, July, and August are bad times to job hunt:

The summer months are not one of the best times to apply for jobs. These months tend to see a drop off in hiring and interviewing. Managers take more vacations 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 at the beginning of the year (In January-May), so there’s less of a need by the time the summer months come around.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t any jobs to be had; you just have to search a little bit harder.

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.

You just need a bit more patience to put up with people being on vacation and other delays. Don’t expect to finish the interview process and get hired in one week.

The reason September and October are great times to apply:

You’re probably starting to see a pattern here… hiring happens in waves. Summer was slow, so the early Fall speeds up. Especially as hiring managers return from vacation.

More interviews happen and there’s less downtime and waiting. The hiring process is smoother overall and you can get from start to finish faster.

Is this better than January and February? In most industries it’s a bit of a toss-up. I’d say it’s almost as good. If January and February are the best time of year to apply for jobs, this is the second best for sure!

September and October are great times to job hunt. Take advantage.

2 Big reasons to avoid most of November and December:

I don’t want this last piece section to discourage anyone from starting the job search and getting a leg up on the competition. Just know that November and December and typically pretty slow times if you’re hoping to get a lot of interviews and see job offers fast. Here’s why…

As November rolls around, hiring managers and HR departments start to put aside their hiring goals and save things for the beginning of next year. They get new hiring budgets in the new year and less people are on vacation so it’s easier for them to wait.

People are lazier in the Winter months in general. I’m sure you’ve felt it… you have a few weeks before the holidays and you decide a few tasks can wait for the new year. Unfortunately your job application might be one of those tasks for somebody else.

Also, late November and December are popular times for vacations so the hiring manager might not even be in the office.

Why the final two weeks of December is a good time to start applying:

Even though I just gave you a few reasons why December isn’t a great time to job hunt, you can still submit job applications 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.

As long as you don’t mind this, the end of December can be a great time to start your job search. And you’ll probably finish the process and start your new job in January or February.

Need a quick recap?

Here you go…

  • Good times to apply: January, February, March, April, May
  • Bad times: June, July, August
  • Good times: September, October
  • Bad times: November, December (with one exception in December that I mentioned in the last section)

UPDATE: If you have interviews coming up, I’ve created an easy step-by-step method to give you a big boost over the competition and get you hired faster. If this sounds interesting you can learn more about it here.

 

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Leave a Comment:

17 comments
mikey22 says August 29, 2013

What about for recent grads? This seems like advice for people with established caeeers

Reply
    Biron says August 30, 2013

    Good point. Recent grads would probably find the most success job hunting during the summer and early fall, when employers expect them to be job-hunting. Companies know when most people tend to graduate, and they choose that time of year to try to recruit at college campuses and interview recent grads for their entry-level positions.

    Reply
ctb says August 14, 2015

The summer months are also represented by the third quarter for most companies. if they hire someone in the third quarter they will have them trained up before the fourth quarter, fiscal year end. Most companies are on the fiscal calendar. Exception being a few large MNC or accelerated SEC filers in the US. The fourth quarter is not a good time to let a person loose on some projects or accounts or whatever and let them make a bunch of mistakes so they can learn via trial and error. The learning curve is a lot smaller at year end. So it is not fair to the new hire or the manager they are assigned to. Not a lot of margin for error or room from trial and error at year end. If a company has capacity to extend a persons training into the fourth quarter the new hire still see’s all the other people who are not as lucky as you. Sometimes they even look at a new hire with jealousy or contempt as they do not need to stay as late or work with a hammer over their heads. Lots of people get let go or quit during year end. Companies like to recycle their work force during this time or cut all the loose ends also. This means there are more discontent people hanging around the common areas saying negative things about the company and management also. New hires who get exposed to this sort of thing too early often become concerned about their own security or job satisfaction in the near future. They might start looking for a new job right away. They train a person up spend all kinds of time and effort with them and then they leave. No one wins if this happens. Better to just wait until the beginning of the year. Really skilled people are hired at year end still though.

Reply
Nathan says December 21, 2015

I’m a hiring manager and I’d say the best time all year to apply for jobs is September when everybody gets back from vacation and things pick up again in most office settings- or at least any office setting I have worked in.

January hasn’t been that great in my experience, we don’t hire much in January. February is okay so I do agree with that.

Reply
Mblanc says January 10, 2016

Do you have ANY statistics or data on this information? Or is this just an opinions article? Thanks.

Reply
    Biron says January 11, 2016

    It’s my experience both personally and through years of advising job seekers and helping companies hire in multiple industries.

    I haven’t recorded statistical data on this although it might make for an interesting case study in the future.

    Reply
Jorge says February 4, 2016

Question for you. Does this affect freelancers or contract workers in your experience?

Reply
    Biron says February 4, 2016

    Hi Jorge,

    I don’t have as much direct experience in the contract/freelance staffing world but I’ve collaborated with people who have and I think it holds true, at least to some extent.

    I also spoke with a freelancer recently who had read my article and commented on how it was accurate to his business as well. He’s a freelance writer. So I think these hiring cycles are likely to hold true for many types of freelance workers, but I bet you could find some exceptions too so don’t take me word for it, apply for jobs and track the trends for your own freelance business to see what works best.

    Reply
Marcus says February 24, 2016

What about April?

Reply
    Biron says February 24, 2016

    Hey Marcus,

    Good question, I guess I left a gap in my rundown and April was the victim. I’d say it’s a great month. The momentum that was built in late January and throughout February is still largely intact come April. There isn’t a big slowdown until June typically. If I were looking for a new job in late spring or April in particular I’d be pretty confident/excited about my prospects. Good luck!

    Reply
Cliff says March 13, 2016

This list seems more like the most popular times for hiring, not the best times of year to look for a job. If it is a quieter time for hiring and getting hired, like the summer months, wouldn’t you have an advantage potentially because nobody else is looking? If I’m looking for the best time of year to hunt for jobs I’d want to see data on how many applicants are active each month of the year. That’d be really helpful. Thanks, Clifford.

Reply
Megan says March 13, 2016

Biron , what happens if I start the process in the “good” months, let’s say March or April for example (right now basically) an dthen the whole interview schedule drags on so long that it becomes June and nothing has finalized. This type of delay seems to happen a lot because I work in an industry that’ highly regulated and it’s normal for an interview to have 2 or 3 rounds onsite at the company and then it can be a few more weeks for a decision. Either that’s normal or I’ve just had very bad luck in my last couple job searches. So, am I too late to start looking now, assuming it’ll take 1-2 months to finish because I think it likely will, as crazy as that sounds.

Reply
    Biron says March 13, 2016

    Hi Megan… each case is different so I don’t know exactly what’ll happen but my advice is you should go full steam ahead and apply for jobs, start your interviews, etc. Most companies will be motivated to finish the process before the summer lull in hiring. They’ll at least try. What if they can’t? You’ll be left waiting a bit but when things pick back up, or when they find a week or two where everybody is in the office during the “bad” months, you’ll be the priority. You’ll definitely have an advantage over any new applicants during those months. So I think it’s a win-win and I don’t see any reason NOT to apply with full effort right now.

    Reply
Angela says March 29, 2016

If you had to choose one specific month as the best time to look for new job overall what would it be and why? Just wondering

Reply
John C says March 30, 2016

Howdy Biron.

I just read on a few other sites that December is the best time to look for jobs. One was Business Insider. The very first thing they mentioned was that although other people are out of the office in December, HR people are often still there. So they said it’s a common myth that nobody is in the office. Care to comment?

Reply
    Biron says March 31, 2016

    Really glad you mentioned this John! Thanks for reading and asking. I read that article too.

    Here’s my take: The only way you’re getting hired just by talking to HR is if it’s an HR job. Even then it’s unlikely.

    So it doesn’t matter if HR is in the office when nobody else is.

    Statistically speaking, the key decision-makers tend to be out of the office in December.

    The Director of the department… the person you’d report to… the coworkers you’d be working alongside… and even the CEO if it’s a small company and he/she meets with each job candidate.

    HR is a support function within a company. The idea that “December is a great time to find a job because many HR people are here,” is crazy to me, since in almost every hiring process I’ve seen, HR exists to help and support the department that’s hiring. The body can’t operate without a brain. And HR isn’t the brain most of the time.

    I actually edited the article recently at the bottom to account for this by the way… I mention that the end of Dec is a fine time to submit applications (so that HR can start looking through it), but just don’t expect the process to be completed super quickly.

    This answer got pretty long . I hope it helps though =)

    Reply
Chandni says September 6, 2016

Great article. Exactly what I was looking for.

Reply
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