Seasons change. Here's the prime time for your job search.
Just as business profits rise and fall in predictable cycles throughout the year, hiring is also cyclical: Some months, the market may be flush with new job postings, whereas other months, you may find very few openings. Thus, the season in which you look for a job has a huge influence on your chances of scoring a gig. Here's the breakdown of the best (and worst) months to look for a job.
If you're looking to score a new role, these two months are prime time. Jobs website Indeed found that 9.4 per cent of yearly job postings are made in January, in comparison to 7.2 per cent in December. February came in second place.
There are a few reasons for this. First, companies are gearing up for a new year, so they have updated budgets and sales forecasts. This means that HR managers have a better idea of what new roles they need to fill and how many new people they can bring on. In addition, any of the hirings that needed to happen in November and December often gets delayed until these months, so there's a backlog of new roles that HR managers have to post.
Hiring typically stays strong in the spring. In March, applicants benefit from the same first-quarter bump in hiring that January and February bring. By May, you're likely to hit the pre-summer rush. As HR managers are planning their summer holidays, they need to fill roles before the office slows down during the summer. Even the most meticulous of HR departments may speed up their reviews of applications at this time to make sure that roles are filled before employees disperse for holidays.
Some industries pick up their pre-summer hiring for other reasons ‒ in sectors like construction, agriculture, hospitality and tourism, hiring swells during this time because of the need to quickly fill these upcoming, seasonally dependent roles.
Summer is typically a low point for hiring. Employees are dispersed on holidays, making it harder to coordinate hiring new team members. In addition, HR managers have often maxed out on their hiring budgets by the time summer rolls around. The roles that are going to be posted around this time will likely be entry-level and minimum wage positions. This is beneficial for recent graduates looking for their first job, but for more experienced hires, there may be fewer options available.
Because of this lull, the summer is a good time to focus on building your network, conducting informational interviews and scoping out the companies you are interested in. These early steps will give you leverage come fall, when hiring picks up again.
With a change in the leaves comes a refreshed attitude towards hiring. As HR managers sit back down to their desks after a busy summer, recruiting new talent is again pushed towards the top of the agenda. Employees are recharged and motivated after the summer, making for a clearer and more efficient hiring process. In addition, industries like retail and e-commerce often start hiring at this point to prepare for the holiday rush.
In terms of searching for a new job, November and December are the worst months to hunt. For one, there's the same effect at play as in the summer ‒ employees are planning their travel around the winter holidays, so there's less focus on pulling in new members for the team. Even if they're not travelling, preparation for the holidays often eclipses the focus of employees, so they're only focussing on the bare essentials.
In addition, budgets for hiring have typically run out at this point, and HR is sitting on their hands waiting for new forecasts and budgets to come in for the coming year. These months are a good time to start getting your CV in gear and scoping out the companies and roles you're interested in so that come the January hiring season, you can pounce on the available opportunities.
More to consider
Within the seasonal cycles of employment, it's also important to consider week-to-week cycles. 'Experts have suggested that Monday or Tuesday tend to be the better times to respond', said Jodi Chavez, president of global recruitment firm Randstad Professionals, to the BBC. In addition, it's best practice to send in your CV during business hours of the industry you're applying to. However, Chavez warns not to be the very first person to respond to a posting, as HR managers typically wait a bit to see what comes in, and the first person sets the benchmark.
At the end of the day though, you don't need to put your job search on hold just because it's the month of August or December. Even if there aren't many roles popping up, you can revamp your CV, cultivate your network and conduct informational interviews any time of the year.
Whether it's the job-search lull or highest peak, a quality CV is a necessity. Submit for a free CV critique to find out if yours is ready for prime application time.