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Jun 20

Category: Career Advice

When it comes to choosing to look for a new job there’s no time like the present, right? Well, not quite. It’s not always the right time to be looking for work — but when is it a good time, and when are you better waiting?

Let’s be clear; you should always be receptive to job offers and outreach from recruiters, and it certainly doesn’t hurt to be regularly taking a look at job listings just in case your dream job crops up.

But, one of the most important lessons we’ve learned from our years of recruiting experience is that certain times are better than others for launching an intensive job search.

So, when is it best to go job hunting?

The time of year myth

Let’s first clear up a bit of a myth. Some people will tell you that there are better times of year to look for work and that there are entire seasons that you should avoid.

It’s a myth, though. Yes, you’ll get a slower response over the Christmas break and, yes, August is a little slower due to school holiday’s. These are small blips in the grander scheme of things, though.

Data from the Office for National Statistics shows that, in fact, there’s next to no difference in the number of job vacancies month-by-month. In recent years there has been a slim trend towards more jobs being advertised in the second half of the year, but the differences are so marginal as to be meaningless.

So, treat with a pinch of salt advice from those who say you’ll never find a job towards the end of the year, or that you must search during January or February. In any given month there are thousands of job vacancies. The jobs market is only loosely linked to budgets, and far more closely tied to resignations. Jobs come and go all year round.

That said, there’s a couple of cyclical factors in specific sectors: in financial services there’s a slight slow down while people wait for their annual bonuses (typically Jan to April), and in retail there’s the obvious uplift before the Christmas period. In general, though, if a team loses a key member they will be looking to get that role filled as quickly as possible, whatever the time of year.

So, if there’s no best time of year to be looking for work, are there other factors you should be keeping in mind?

When is it best to look for a new job?

While there’s no right or wrong answer, there are certain moments when it’s better to be looking and times when you may want to focus on other things.

  • After you’ve taken that long holiday: We know it seems obvious, since you risk annoying your current employer (so jeopardising your reference) and irritating your new employer (by starting off on the wrong foot). Don’t look for work just around the time you’re about to jet off for three weeks.
  • After a major life event (rather than during it): For similar reasons, you should avoid looking for a new role right before a big holiday. It’s probably best to wait a while before embarking on a job search when you’re about to get married (or divorced, for that matter), or some other significant life change. Hold off a short while until your personal life calms down.
  • At the end of a major project: We often write about the importance of a good reference and of maintaining a healthy relationship with former employers because these are of particular significance in fairly small, close-knit sectors like marketing. The simple fact is if you abandon your firm mid-way through a major project you’re putting your relationship with them at risk, so consider waiting until you’ve delivered the bulk of the work.
  • When the pressure is off: You’re likely at your best when you’re calm, relaxed, and confident. If you’ve got major life events planned that are going to make a higher salary more urgent, or if you can sense that you’re starting to enjoy your work less don’t wait until you reach a crunch point. Plan ahead. Move while the pressure is off.
  • When you’re ready to move on: The days of a lifetime commitment to a single organisation are long gone for most people. It’s normal, nowadays, to move around and to work for several employers. If you feel as though you’ve learned all you can, experienced all that you want to, and built up a sufficient reference to successfully move on, don’t delay. Do it.

So, what are the takeaways?

First, always be open to job offers and passively searching. The jobs market is active year-round and highly fluid right now. The result is that your dream position could come up at any time, so don’t turn off from the jobs market entirely.

Second, when it comes to mounting an intensive search for a new role don’t worry about the time of year. Instead, worry about whether the time is right for you personally.

If the time is right for you, consider reaching out to a recruitment consultant for help. 3Search specialise in marketing, communications, sales, bids, and digital. Check us out.