Looking to change careers? Timing matters. While job search is always about tailoring your resume to the job posting, consistently applying to jobs, and networking to make sure you are not just applying for job postings….there is some strategy involved in applying for jobs.
Hiring, like any other industry, has high seasons and low seasons. There are times that it’s best to apply for a job and there are times that are going to be more challenging.
Today, I want to talk to you about the best and worst times to apply for a job so not only can you use them to your advantage, but I really want to share with you the REASONS why you may not be hearing back from a job at a particular time. Also as someone with self-doubt, it may be easy to put off a job search because you may not feel “good enough,” but in this article, I want to talk about why it is so important to concentrate on job applications at different times. I will also be adding recommendations of what to do during each season. Let’s get started!
The best time to search for a new job is in January and February.
New Year rewards new jobs: January and February. January and February are the best months to look for a new job for many reasons:
1. Everyone is back at the office.
Most companies have a hiring freeze in November and December because their staff are on holiday or their offices are closed. This creates a hiring backlog. In January, everyone starts returning back to work and the hiring begins again.
2. New Hiring Budgets
A new year means new budgets. Companies complete budgets in October and November and will post new jobs in December, expecting to hire in January and February. Companies usually start planning out their new projects/teams and can start spending their new money again.
3. New Year Goals (Without Previous Year Expenses)
Something else to keep in mind: most companies pay their annual bonuses in December, so many people wait until January to change jobs. Companies expect this so they look to make lots of new hires in January.
While January usually gets off to a slow start, job postings and hiring picks up towards the end of the month and into February. Starting your job search in Jan means you’ll be prepared for the uptake in applications!
There is a double edge sword though, because, for all these reasons, it also means there is more competition. Many people have a new year goal to start a new career, so January and February also are high motivation periods for most people. Fun fact: I actually made my last 2 career changes in Jan/Feb for these reasons…there were a lot more postings. And I see them even now. Even with more competition, because there are so many more openings, January and February are the best months to start your job search.
During this time: It’s super important to make time for your job search – especially if you are applying for jobs you feel “unqualified for”!
The next best time to search for a job is in March, April, May and June.
Not all jobs are posted all at once in January and February. The uptake in hiring continues steadily until June but drops off a little less every month in anticipation of summer break. It’s really important to be consistent in your job search. Like most new year’s resolutions, many people who start looking for jobs in January and February tend to drop off the job search because of exhaustion or because they’ve already accepted a new job. So even if you do not get a job offer right away, it’s important to keep applying. There are still many postings that come up in the spring, especially if you are in an industry that has a seasonal uptake. There are usually (during non-COVID times) lots of jobs in the summer for events and different initiatives, so it’s a great to apply, even if you’re looking for part-time or contract work. Spring was especially a great time to apply for jobs when you are younger and looking for internships or part-time work.
Do not feel discouraged if you do not hear back in Jan/Feb. Make sure to continue applying for jobs in the Spring, especially if you are looking for seasonal work!
The job search process comes to a halt in July and August.
Job hiring goes on holiday too. In July, not only are a lot of hiring managers on holiday but so are many candidates. Hiring managers are always looking for the best candidates, and they want them to be available to apply and interview for the job as well. It’s easy to think of the hiring process to be dictated by the employer, but they also want to be hiring and attracting the best people. Many people go on holidays in the summertime and so while there still are some postings, the hiring timelines can be quite delayed because they may be accommodating vacation time from different hiring managers and different candidates. It’s also kind of an awkward time to start, in the middle of summer, while everyone is away.
There are exemptions of course to this rule. Many industries such as teaching, school, daycare, etc. do hire in the summer in anticipation of the return to school. However, some industries drop off their hiring process and cut hours because everyone has gone back to school/work.
Summer can be slow but this is THE PERFECT time to start developing skills. There are usually a lot of opportunities to volunteer or take an online course in the summertime. Use this time to work on new projects!
The end-of-year hiring begins in September and October.
For any openings that still need to be filled, most employers will try to post them around September and October when they have a clearer picture of what their overall budget looks like. September is also when school is back in session, so the last couple of weeks and early September can also be busy with last-minute postings and hires. If you are looking to change careers mid-year and don’t want to wait until the new year, make sure to take advantage of the last hiring sprint before the holidays.
If you are looking to change jobs before the end of the year, make sure to continue to apply while employers still have their budget.
The worst time to search for a job is in November and December.
The hiring process comes to a standstill during November and December. After Halloween/Thanksgiving, most people are looking to wrap up the year. a lot of offices have staff on vacation in December or close for the last 2 weeks of December. Most companies start closing off their budgets and start end-of-the-year celebrations or reflections. Unless they absolutely need to hire someone, most companies will delay their hiring process until January. And even for postings that do go up in December, do not expect to hear back until after the holidays as someone might be away and offices are usually operating at reduced hours.
Even though hiring slows down during the Winter, the end of the year also means it’s the time for reflection. Use that to your advantage and update your resume with your year’s accomplishments!
If you are looking to change careers, it’s always best to start as soon as possible. However, if you are able to apply at opportune times, it is really important to use that to your advantage. And if you are applying for jobs during a slow season, it’s important to keep these timelines in mind so you also don’t drive yourself crazy when you don’t hear back right away. If you applied for a job during July or December and don’t hear back right away, now you know why. Instead, try utilizing those “slow periods” to upskill yourself in anticipation of applying for jobs during Jan/Feb. There will always be slow and busy times, but career planning is a year-long process!
If you need help with your career path and need more help, check out my 1:1 Coaching Program!