A successful job search depends on both personal and external factors. Create an excellent resume, provide strong references and make a good impression at interviews at the right time of year, and you will receive job offers. It is important to know the best time of year to focus on your job search. In this article, we discuss the best months to look for a job, the months to avoid looking for a job and tips for applying to jobs at the right time.
Related: The Essential Job Search Guide
Best months to look for a job
Hiring tends to follow a seasonal ebb and flow that is consistent and predictable. There are some exceptions by industry, but generally, these are the months you will have the greatest success in your job hunt.
Following the holiday season, hiring managers are returning to work ready to fill open positions. The first few weeks of January are generally still slow as people return from vacation, but positions are often posted during this month. Anticipate submitting applications during January but not hearing back from hiring managers until later.
February is a peak hiring time. Jobs are posted in January and hiring managers often begin interviewing top candidates in February. The hiring process may be slow because companies have the time and resources to select the best candidate for the position. February is the month to put the most effort into your application and to communicate with companies you are interested in working for.
March functions much like February in the hiring process. There are usually still open positions from the start of the year and hiring managers are interested in putting the best people into those roles.
April is often when hiring managers begin to feel a bit more urgency in the hiring process. If they have not yet been able to fill a position posted at the start of the year, they will begin working harder and faster to find a qualified candidate. April is a great time to make follow-up calls or put in new applications for jobs that have been open for a while.
May is when most colleges and universities hold graduation. This makes May a top hiring month for companies interested in acquiring the best new talent straight out of school. If you are already a member of the workforce looking for a new position, you can use this prime hiring time to your advantage before the slow hiring months of summer arrive.
September is a time of renewed vigor for hiring managers. Following the summer months full of vacations and slow hiring, companies are eager to fill open positions before the end of the year. Some companies may be facing vacancies from early-season hires who left the company after only a few months on the job.
Much like April and May, October is an urgent hiring time. Hiring managers want to fill open positions before the holiday season begins and before key employees in the hiring process are on vacation. Additionally, this is the last opportunity hiring managers have to fill positions before the new year.
Months to avoid when looking for a job
Just as there are months with high hiring rates, there are months with low hiring rates. Your job search may take longer if you focus on it during these months.
After a strong hiring season in the first half of the year, June is when job seekers may begin to see fewer opportunities. Often, budgets are tight at this time of year as companies adjust spending going into the third fiscal quarter. Many companies choose to wait on new hires until after the slower summer months.
July is traditionally a very slow hiring month. Many employees take vacations during July, so hiring may be put on hold while key decision-makers are out of the office. The third fiscal quarter also begins this month, so companies might wait to make new hires until they see how their finances are projected to look for the second half of the year.
August can be a turning point for some hiring managers. Like January, some companies may begin posting jobs toward the end of August, but interviews and hiring decisions are rarely done during August. Many people are still on vacation during this month which can stall the hiring process.
After the fall hiring frenzy, November is when companies demonstrate a stall in hiring. Often, positions have already been filled during fall hiring and companies are reticent to make any hires before the holiday season.
December is traditionally the worst month for hiring. Companies want to wait until they have their budgets for the new year to make hiring decisions. Additionally, the holiday season usually takes people out of the office, which impacts decision-making. Many companies freeze hiring during December and wait until the new year to make employment decisions.
Related: Guide: How To Choose a Career
Tips for applying to jobs at the right time
Knowing when to apply for a position can greatly influence your chances of receiving an interview and job offer. Use these additional tips to help your next job search be a success:
Update your resume.
Outside of peak hiring months, keep your resume updated and ready in case you find a great job posting. Save time reformatting and editing your resume and apply quickly to great opportunities.
Gain new skills.
Use the slow hiring months to gain new skills and experience. Take a class or earn a new certification in your field. Volunteer or intern with a company you are interested in working for full-time. These skills and experiences can help you find a fantastic job when the hiring season returns.
Just because some months are traditionally slower for hiring than others does not mean there are no jobs posted during those times. Keep looking for a position during the off months. You may find a position you would not have found otherwise.
Know the exceptions.
Not all industries follow the traditional hiring patterns. Teachers, for example, are often hired during the summer months once school administrators know who is or is not returning. Accountants are often hired during December in preparation for tax season at the start of the year. Understand the hiring patterns for your industry.
Use the slow hiring months to network. Attend conferences or communicate with those in your industry online. Build connections who might be able to help you find a position once the hiring season returns.
Assess the economy.
Hiring may follow a relatively consistent seasonal pattern, but it is still dependent on the economy. Use tools like Indeed's Hiring Lab to assess current job conditions and plan your job search accordingly.