Professional Resume Writer, Career Writer and Career Coach
Frankly, if you need a job, the best time to apply for one is right now. But, regardless of timing, the competition is fierce and job seekers should do everything they can to score an advantage. Understanding when companies hire, the typical hiring season trends, and the right time of year to apply for jobs will give you the best chance at success.
The secret? Most companies hire in stages—usually in the new year when their recruiting budget is flush with cash. This means there are good times and bad times to apply for jobs. Read on to learn how to take advantage of the hiring frenzy and find yourself in a new role faster than expected.
When Companies Hire the Most (And The Least)
To understand the job search, you must think like a recruiter—meaning, you must know when companies hire most. Times when you’re most likely to land a job fluctuates, as peak “hiring season” only lasts so long. Let’s break down the recruiting cycle to pinpoint exactly when to apply for jobs for the best results.
Winter: New budgets mean new job openings. While December can be rough considering holidays and paid time off, the hiring process speeds up in mid-to-late January and February as employers get back into their regular workflow.
Spring: The hiring surge continues through March and April. Expect more competition to land a job because companies will get more aggressive in reviewing applications in hopes to fill vacancies before summer vacations start. Recent grads should also take note, as recruiting cycles tend to favor entry-level positions during this time.
Summer: Recruiting slows in the summer months as most companies have spent or allocated their budgets by June and July. Quality jobs are still available, but the interview process will drag on for longer, thanks to more frequent vacations and flexible summer schedules. This season is a great time to focus on networking and professional development.
Fall: Hiring managers are eager to fill positions before the end of the year and the holiday craze—making September another best time of the year to apply for jobs. Start thinking about freshening up your resume with things you accomplished throughout the year around November, when things historically begin to slow again.
Why The Beginning Of The Year Is The Best Time To Apply For Jobs
In most industries, January and February is a great time for getting hired. It’s actually the best time to look for jobs all year. Decision-makers have returned from holiday break, armed with big budgets and a corporate “green light” to fill needed roles.
January will start slow (it takes a bit to recover from the holidays, after all), but once hiring managers dive into their workflows, they’ll be busier than ever sourcing candidates for open roles. Use the first two weeks of the year to freshen up your resume. While you’re at it, update your LinkedIn profile, identify a few companies you’d like to target, and watch those job boards with an eagle eye. Then, start sending your resume and submitting applications in the latter half of the month.
February is the peak hiring month. Rather than diving in with everyone else in January, ZipRecruiter found that job seekers have the best shot at landing a new gig if they wait until February. During this time, the total number of active jobs tends to increase while the number of applicants declines.
That said, don’t always expect a quick hire. Companies have plenty of money, time, and resources to choose the right candidate during the winter months so the process may take longer than expected.
Typical recruiting cycles also mark May and early June as prime hiring season times. A sense of urgency will bode well for you here, as hiring managers are feeling the pressure to fill their roles before the summer slowdown. Then, prepare for a final push in September, when companies try to boost their teams before launching Q4.
Finally, the best time of year to apply for jobs may also depend on your industry. The spring and summer months are times when companies hire most for certain positions.
- Teachers can source and land open positions before school begins in the fall
- Finance or business companies hire recent graduates for their training programs
- Accounting pros tend to see success during tax season
- Executive-level positions usually slow in July, making early spring a good time to job hunt
When To Apply For Jobs According to Data: A Strategy
Ideally, you should apply to a job listing within a week or two of the posting. Career gods reward the eager applicant—according to data, at least. A report from Brazen says that 43% of all job openings are filled during the first 30 days. Candidates who actively search for job opportunities and apply when the postings first open will have a greater chance of getting in on the first wave of interviews.
If you want to get really technical, consider the day of the week when applying for jobs. A SmartRecruiters study found that Tuesday is not only the most popular day for companies to post jobs, it’s also the day when the highest number of people apply for jobs and the most popular day to get hired. These jobs tend to post around 11 a.m., so applicants looking to get in ahead of the curve may want to dedicate some of their lunch break to the application process.
How to Prepare for Hiring Season
1. Think ahead. Regardless of when you search for jobs, the process will take some time—around five months. Don’t wait until winter to send out resumes if you want to start a new job in January. Instead, start browsing during the fall.
2. Network during “off months.” Networking during the calmer summer months and the holiday season when people have more time to connect can yield better results. Schedule informational interviews, send your colleagues well wishes, and job search at a more relaxed pace.
3. Keep your resume updated. An updated resume is an effective resume. Utilize a modern resume template you can easily update monthly, or at the very least, quarterly to ensure you’re leading with your best foot forward at all times.
4. Prepare other key application docs. Your professional portfolio is more than just your resume. Compile a list of references and personal recommendation letters before you start sending applications. Also, ensure that your LinkedIn profile is up to date, as you’ll likely leverage the platform for networking and job hunting.
5. Look when it suits you. The best time to search for a job is, well, when you need one. Don’t let the “when do companies hire” trends and data points stop you from applying to your dream job during what may be deemed a “slow” or “worst” time of year to find a job. There might be seasons or months when it’s easier to make a switch, but the process continues until you find the perfect fit.