Timing is important when it comes to looking for a job - believe it or not, the time of year and even the day of the week can play a factor as to how successful you are in finding and securing the right position. Beyond that, you may be wondering if the best time to start looking for a job is when you’re still employed, or how much leeway you should aim to give yourself for the job hunt.
Read on to have your pressing time-related questions answered and for some other food for thought as you get ready to start your job search.
Is there a “best time” to apply for jobs?
The simple answer is “no” - if you’re curious about what’s out there, your personal job search should start at any time of the year. Jobs are usually available in different industries year round, and beginning to look means you’ll see any opportunities that pop up. When you see one, it’s good practice to apply for it no matter what time of year it is.
If you have it in your mind that you should wait to start looking until the market is busy, you may miss out on your dream job.
Don’t wait until you’re desperate
Most importantly, if you’re in need of a new job, don’t wait until any other time of year to start looking for it - start looking as soon as possible so you can replenish your resources.
Don't wait until you literally hate your job, or your work environment becomes too toxic, before updating your resume or networking.
The more desperate you are to find work, the less likely you are to find a fulfilling position as the importance will quickly shift to anything that brings in a paycheck. That job likely won't be the right fit for you, and you might end up in the same problem all over again.
If you're even a little bit unhappy, remember that you're always allowed to look at other opportunities. You should always be passively searching for other opportunities/jobs, so you are prepared and can take action when the right one comes along. When you have time to find the right job, you can be much more selective about YOUR requirements — whether that's salary, company or role — and what YOU actually want.
If you know you’re going to be starting your job search soon, but aren’t sure quite when, you should get ahead of the game by getting your resume up to speed. Our free AI-powered Score My Resume tool can give you some quick optimization pointers to help you put your best foot forward when the time comes.
What are the best (and worst) times of year to find jobs?
When it comes to being hired, the likelihood improves at certain times of year, particularly for specific industries that follow seasonal hiring cycles (such as accounting firms hiring during tax season or retail companies hiring during the holidays). This varies by industry, however - other industries (such as office work) are slower to hire during the holidays. If you can, find out if your industry follows a seasonal hiring cycle and aim for that.
In general, January and February are the months when most companies are looking for workers, meaning you’ll most likely have more options to consider applying to if you start your search then.
Spring and fall are both decent times of year to find work, but keep in mind that you may be facing increased competition from recent graduates during these seasons.
Avoid starting your job search in the summer months (June, July, and August), if you can, as this is when most companies are taking a break from hiring new employees and many managers are out of the office altogether.
What is the best time of day to look for jobs?
Most companies post their open jobs in the mid to late morning (think around 11:00 am), so if your goal is to be among the first to apply (see the next question for more on this), that’s when you should generally start checking job posting boards.
In terms of the time of the week that’s best to look for jobs, Tuesday is the most common day of the week for new jobs to be posted.
Keep in mind, however, that as long as the application period is open, someone will most likely look at your application no matter what day of the week you send it in.
Is there an advantage to applying as soon as a job is listed?
Some positions are based on the model that they’ll hire people until their quota is filled - and in this case, you’ll definitely want to be among the first to apply. Others will stick to their posted deadline, meaning you can send in your application right up to the last minute and have equal consideration to those who applied before you. The job posting itself may specify what type of application process it is.
What if the job has been listed for a while?
Don’t let this be an automatic deterrent to you as some companies are looking to fill multiple positions (perhaps at different branches, or for remote work). If the position appears to be open and the application time period is still ongoing, send in your application to avoid potentially missing out. If you aren’t sure, send the hiring manager an email to clarify (and start building your professional relationship with them as you do).
How much time should I give myself to apply?
If you are currently employed but are preparing to start looking for a new job, you may be in the position to plan how much time to give yourself to find work before leaving your current position (or, to put it another way, how much savings you should have set aside).
Ideally, you’ll want to have between one and three months of cushion between when you start applying to jobs and when you’re planning on leaving your current position. The more time you can give yourself, the better, however, as it’s not uncommon for job searches to take up to six months or more (depending on what you’re applying for).
For those currently not employed but who have the resources to wait, employers won’t generally bat an eye at employment gaps of six months or less (beyond that, plan to incorporate self employment, volunteering, or other projects on your resume where possible).
Of course, if you see an opening at your dream company, send in your application even if you don’t have active plans to leave your current job. Alternatively, set up an informational interview (see our templates on setting up informational interviews for more) and start the networking process to see what opportunities may open up down the road.
Regardless of where you are in your job search, remember to take advantage of the resources you have available to you. See our templates of successful resumes you can base yours on if you’re looking for a solid place to start.
Ultimately, the time of year, week, and day are secondary factors as to when you should apply for a job. If you see that a position you’d like to have is open and actively accepting applications, apply for it! Even if you aren’t successful, it’s a significant step in moving toward the career you’d like to have.