Timing is crucial. That's true in many areas of life—including job searching. While your job hunt shouldn't be limited to one particular time of year, it's possible to maximize your success by taking advantage of seasonal trends.
There's no one-size-fits-all answer to pinpointing the best months to search for jobs. The best months to ramp up your job-hunting activities will vary depending on the role you're pursuing and the industry it's in. But understanding trends can give you a major leg up on the competition in your job search.
General job searching trends.
Generally speaking, there are overarching seasonal tendencies that you should be aware of in your job hunt. Hiring managers can be preoccupied at certain times of the year with holidays, vacations, and other activities. While you can and should send out your résumé year-round, be patient if you don't see a lot of available positions.
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As Glassdoor notes, hiring processes slow down in June, July, and August, and again during the holiday season—usually December through mid-January. There might not be as many open positions, but, on the other hand, there might be less competition for them. People tend to be busy with other activities during these times of the year, taking them away from job searching and hiring.
After the holidays, things generally start to heat up again, Glassdoor says. In February, many companies and employees start to act on their new goals, which means new budgets, changing roles, and opening positions. There's often a pickup in hiring activity in March, April, and May, but if you start your job search in February, you'll get a head start on the rest of the job-seeking crowd.
Slow hiring periods don't have to be wasted time, though. Continue searching for and applying to open positions, keep developing skills and furthering your education, and polish your résumé and cover letter. Then, increase your job-searching activities in peak budgeting and hiring months; they vary by career field but tend to be clustered January through May and September through October.
Understanding the trends specific to your field will give you a distinct advantage on the job market. Though each field's particular patterns change over time, there are tendencies that have persisted throughout the years.
The retail sector follows a reliable hiring pattern: It ramps up immediately prior to and during the holidays. Shoppers swarm stores on Black Friday to cash in on massive retail sales, and they flood customer service desks over the next few months to make returns. Retail companies need on-the-ground employees and managers to keep things running smoothly during these busy periods. Knowing this, you can leverage stores' hiring crunches in September and October and even perhaps be picky in selecting a more favorable retail job position.
The hospitality and tourism sectors, The Balance Careers says, start to gear up for their busy summer seasons in the spring. Hotels, tourism activity organizations, and other vacation-oriented companies need employees to run their facilities, and they need marketers, financial experts, and administrators to help them capitalize on the incoming summer rush.
The education sector functions on a consistent semester-based schedule, so if you're searching for a teaching position, it’s important to know that schools generally start requesting renewals and commitments from current faculty in February and March, and start interviewing new candidates in April and May.
Sectors such as healthcare and IT, on the other hand, don't run on set schedules and don't tend to experience the same kinds of peaks and valleys. According to Google Trends, searches for information technology jobs and healthcare jobs stayed fairly consistent year-round, with slight dips in the winter months. If you're searching for an IT or healthcare role, stay abreast of changes in specific areas or at specific companies. A hospital might be expanding its emergency room, or an IT company might be starting a new cloud initiative, requiring more employees.
Time it right for career success.
If you're really proactive, you can gain an edge over the competition by networking, making informational calls, and applying for jobs early. That means taking action when hiring managers are still available and before budgets have been finalized (which means there could still be room for you in the budget). Learn as much as you can about the specific industry and its seasonal cycles.
You don't have to wait for the perfect time to start your job-searching endeavors—you should be working on networking and self-development throughout the year. For the best chances of career success, however, knowing and leveraging general and industry-specific patterns can make your job hunt perfectly timed—and, hopefully, much shorter.