When is the best time to look for a new job?
If you're getting Itchy Feet and thinking of diving into the recruitment market, has anyone given you advice on the best time of year to apply? I'm sure many people have been told to steer clear of job boards at the end of the year AND not to apply for jobs in June because "no one is hiring at those times". I'd have to disagree completely. These recruitment myths are outdated. Businesses are much more fluid than that and will pivot to suit their needs rather than restrict themselves by following a set timeframe. Yes, there are times when jobs peak, but in a post-COVID world, we have seen some stats turned on their heads.
What does this mean for candidates? When is the best time to look for work, and is there any point looking during the good old silly season?
In short, the trends still say that the busiest months for job activity and recruitment are February, March, May, August, September and October. However, if we look more deeply at other factors, it's safe to say 'it all depends'. It all depends on what is best for YOU and your current situation. Good candidates will always find work, regardless of the time of year.
Also, if you are a statistical person, you might argue that there will be less competition with fewer people in the job market at certain times of the year. Ultimately meaning, your odds of landing the job will increase. Whilst others are taking their foot off the gas, why not floor it and stand out against the slim competition?
Businesses are also not all in "wind-down" mode in December, and we are finding many businesses want to hit the ground running after Christmas break. So, if you are looking for work, we have plenty of clients looking for staff. In fact, we noticed an upward trend in new jobs and roles during November, which traditionally has been a quiet month.
So, what should you consider when deciding the best time to look for work? Here are my tips:
How long have you been with the company? Did you only start a few months to a year ago? Unless you have excellent reasons for leaving (and to be fair, sometimes there are good reasons), this would be a red flag for employers.
Industry Specific Trends
Although there are times when going against trends can be beneficial, some industries
do have times of the year when it's nearly impossible for businesses to focus on hiring. Think Tax Accountanting firms approaching June 30th. These businesses will focus on client-facing work, so it is vital to bear this in mind when timing your search.
Pay attention to seasonal jobs, which usually start hiring before the holidays (November and early December). These can be an excellent way to get your foot in the door for a more permanent job later, especially if you prove you're a good investment. Both retail and food service often have seasonal jobs in the winter and the summer, during months when other industries are not hiring.
Pay Review or Bonus Time
When looking for work, employers will often ask about your current salary, which can determine what they will consider paying you. Usually, a slight step up in compensation is okay to ask for, but if you are close to a pay review, promotion or bonus, consider waiting until after this occurs to look for work. Your bargaining power for a good salary will increase if you are already on a higher salary. It's also important to wait for your bonuses before moving on. No one wants to miss out on money owing!
Unfortunately, not all times are great in the market. In recessions, recruitment dries up, leaving people out of work. Inversely, recruitment ramps up in boom times and leaves us in a candidate-short market. The boom is your best time to look for work as there are plenty of vacancies, and employers are willing to pay well for good talent.
So, understanding what is happening in the market is crucial to your timing. So get your job applications out now while we are still in a purple patch!
Whilst business is business; everyone has a personal life outside of their career. And there are times when a lot of things are happening. There may be better times to look for, apply for, interview, and start that new role. I.e., going on a big overseas holiday, getting married, or going to a big event like the Olympics. You will also need to work out a notice period with your current employer. If this sounds like you, it might be wise to pause the job search until after your big holiday or event.
How You Are Feeling
Yes, your well-being is an essential factor here! If you are at that point where work is becoming unbearable or have mentally checked out, then the best time to look for work is NOW. Do what is best for you and start making the moves to get into a job and company where you are happy and can thrive.
In summary, there is no hard and fast rule regarding the best time to look for work as a general rule. There's no secret formula; the best time to look is determined by what is best for your circumstances and what is happening in your industry. So, ignore the Christmas decorations around the shops as a sign you should press pause on your job search and go forth and apply!