Is there a best time of year to search for a new job?
By Debra Donston-Miller
To everything there is a season. The Old Testament declared it. Pete Seeger and the Byrds sang it. And many things in our lives follow discernible calendar cycles. Does the same apply to the job search? Do companies follow a business calendar that makes jobs in one season abundant, and scarce in another?
There are periods during the year that, generally speaking, are more conducive to job searching than others, say experts. But the best and worst times to look for a job can vary by industry, company and even departments. But experts agree that it's never a good time to sit back and wait for the "right" time.
The beginning of a business's fiscal year may be an opportune time to put your resume in front of hiring managers, said Tony Deblauwe, founder of HR4Change, an information and services resource for individual and business productivity. "Many companies begin their fiscal year in April," he said. "Budgets are set, including head count projections, and they are ready to open new positions."
It's commonly believed that the summer months and the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day are the worst times to look for a job, but the opposite may be true, said John Paul Engel, strategy consultant and author of Project Be the Change, a book and Web site that offer career and academic advice from successful people. "I think the time of year between Thanksgiving and New Year's and the summer months are some of the best times to hunt for a job," he said. "The reason is that there are a lot fewer applicants at this time, and the hiring needs are more immediate."
Phil Rosenberg, president of reCareered, recommends getting ahead of beginning-of-the-year planning by using the late-summer, early-fall time period to target companies and develop a strategy for approaching them. "It's wise to start in August or September to identify needs, problems, goals and issues at a candidate's target companies for [the new year]," he said. "By starting that early, the job seeker can build his network within a target company and have meaningful conversations to learn the issues being addressed in the coming year. By first having these conversations, the candidate can both be recognized as an early candidate in the 'hidden' job market and customize resumes to solve specific hiring manager needs."
Best Time Is “Now”
With all that said, hiring "seasons" will more likely differ based on industry and individual company goals/needs. For example, there is a groundswell of hiring in the accounting industry toward the end of the year and into tax season, noted Rosenberg.
Janine Moon, author of "Career Ownership: Creating 'Job Security' in Any Economy," agreed: "There may be some validity to certain times of year, but hiring is based upon business need and strategic direction, and every business sets its own. To try and second-guess the best time is really counterproductive. Someone looking for a change within a specific window misses opportunities available every day that are part of the unpublished market."
Indeed, say many experts, the best time to look for a new job is now. This is true especially if you are currently employed, as statistics demonstrate it is easier to secure a new position when you are actively employed.
The key, said Moon, is to be able to put your best foot forward, no matter what or when: "Every worker should know — continuously and currently — how to build and provide value."
Debra Donston-Miller covers work-life issues and difficult job-search situations for TheLadders.