The 2 Best Times of Year to Apply for Jobs

By Biron Clark

Published:

Applying for Jobs

Biron Clark

Biron Clark

Writer & Career Coach

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 times of year and specific months are best.

What is the Best Time of Year to Look for Jobs?

January and February is the best time of year to look for a job. Hiring managers have received new hiring budgets for the year, the majority of workers are back from holiday vacation, and companies also often have a backlog of hiring that they have been meaning to do but had paused during the holiday season. For these reasons, January and February are excellent months to look for jobs. There are other times in the year that are better than others to apply for jobs, too. So we’re going to go month-by-month in this article.

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.

The Best times of year to apply for jobs

Watch: What is the Best Time of Year to Look for Jobs?

Why January/February is one of the Best Times to Look 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 look 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 picks up pretty fast and lots of phone interviews and first round interviews start happening. 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!

Just make sure you follow-up after your interview because hiring managers tend to be pretty busy this time of year… not just with hiring but with other tasks too. So if you haven’t heard feedback for a week after your interview, check in via email and ask again.

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:

These months are still very good times to apply for jobs, 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. However, it also means there’s more competition. More people are applying for jobs, and receiving interviews this time of year. So make sure you practice job interview questions and answers so you don’t waste the opportunity. Here’s why this time of year is good in general: As you get closer to summertime, companies feel more pressure to finish the interview process and hire somebody. This is because they know people in the company 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.”

Applying For Jobs in June, July and August Could Be Tough…

The summer months are usually slower, and typically aren’t one of the best times to apply for jobs. Managers take more vacations during the summer and it’s harder to get a team together to conduct a face-to-face interview or make hiring decisions. If you’re job searching in the summer and can’t find a job, this could be why.

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 fewer 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.

If you decide not to apply during the summer months, you can still work on getting your resume in top shape, and planning/strategizing your job search for September…

Looking for Jobs in September and October is Usually Good:

September and October are also some of the best times to apply for jobs (along with January and February mentioned earlier). Why? 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.

Applying in November and December:

I don’t want this next section to discourage you from starting to apply for jobs 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 fewer 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 that somebody decides to put off until the new year.

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

Why the End of December Could Still Be a Good Time to Apply for Jobs:

Even though I just gave you a few reasons why December isn’t a great time to look for jobs, 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 February or March.

Recap: The Best Times to Apply for Jobs

  • January: Good time to look for jobs, but the first two weeks might be slow as people return from holidays.
  • February: Excellent time to apply for jobs and look for jobs.
  • March, April, May: Very good times of year to be job searching.
  • June, July, August: Not the best times to apply for jobs, but still possible to find a great position. Just be prepared for a slower interview process, as more key staff taking vacations during the summer.
  • September and October: Excellent time of year to look for jobs and apply for jobs.
  • November: Typically relatively good, as companies are trying to make their final hires before the year ends. However, the final one or two weeks of November can slow down a lot due to the upcoming holidays.
  • December: Typically a very slow month when not much will happen in terms of hiring for most companies.

If you follow the advice above you’ll be applying at the best times for getting hired. You’ll get more interviews (and the process will move faster) so you can end your job search sooner.

Don’t Overthink the Timing

While this data can guide you, don’t overthink it! If you just graduated in the spring and need to find a job in the summer, that’s fine. Attack your job search head-on! If you got laid off in November and need to find a job in December or early January, go do it. Don’t let this article discourage you or stop you. The truth is you can get a job in any month, at any time. And you only need one job, right? The data above is just to guide you and provide background info about why certain times of year and considered better for job searching and hiring.

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Biron Clark

About the Author

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26 thoughts on “The 2 Best Times of Year to Apply for Jobs”

  1. New jobs are available year-round but January and February are the biggest hiring seasons in part because companies’ budgets open up. As a resume writer, January to May is my busiest season and summer is slowest with business picking up in Sept.

  2. Thanks for this info, seems like a useful guide to keep in mind when applying for jobs. Obviously just because its a slow period doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apply, just that maybe expect a lower hit rate or focus more on advertised positions rather than contacting looking for opportunities directly.

  3. In my opinion, the hiring date is not independent from the type of profession. The worst time of year to hire someone in the insurance billing industry is January or even February. Most companies’ health plans run on a calendar year, and therefore deductibles reset January 1, causing chaos for many users that may be unfamiliar with software systems. Medical practice management is tied largely to insurance plans, so this sector may not be represented in the ‘research’ used here.

    My husband, experienced in the industrial trade sector, was just hired on with a company that was extremely persistent on him starting by November. He was prepared to delay his transition to the new year, as many employees receive a year-end bonus. The company actively made him offers until he accepted, and there was a contingency on his start date.

    In the food service industry, a tremendous amount of hiring occurs in November and even December, as corporate holiday functions begin to peak, and waitstaff as well as caterers and cooks are in demand for these often weekend events.

    This article is purely speculative at best and please don’t base your motivation levels for job searching on it, people.

  4. Im studying MBA and major in Business Analytics. If im looking for a job after my graduation, in which month should i plan to get graduate and then apply for a job ?

  5. Thank you for the information. It will be used in one of the student workshops on career seeking information.

    • Did you read it? June, July and August are terrible, and most of November and December too. That’s half the year.

  6. 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?

    • 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 =)

  7. 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

  8. 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.

    • 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.

  9. 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.

    • 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!

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • I just saw this article, I am decently skilled and I am feeling this slump. On the flip side I started applying for jobs in Dec 28, 2015 and I found I got called back to 75% of my applied jobs. Byron, if you could find the data, I would love to slice and dice it for you for my own curiosity sake. Just saying….

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

    • 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.

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