The Best Time of Year to Make a Career Change

Searching for a new job is an arduous process, so you want to make sure you don’t waste any time knocking on locked doors. Here are the best times of year to make a career change.

Credit: Saulo Mohana

If you’re thinking about a career change, you’re probably wondering – when’s the best time to start the job hunt? Whether you want to change jobs, companies, or even industries, there are times of the year that are simply better than others to start the search.

The best time of year to look for a job

January and February are the best months of the year to look for a new job. Why? This is the time to look for long-term, full-time employment because executives start to have their budgets and forecasts in line for the year. This means that they know whether they have the overhead to hire where there are gaps. Many career experts and advisors also recommend to hunt for jobs during this time.

However, the beginning of January can start pretty slow. After the Christmas period, it can take some time for people to come out of their holidays and for the wheels to start rolling. That’s why it’s ideal to start applying for positions around mid-late January, as that’s when you’ll see most of the job ads popping up. Make sure you have your resume ready to go by early January so you can hit the ground running.

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When NOT to look for a job

All the experts agree – the absolute worst time to look for a new job is in November/December. This is usually the time of year when most offices are winding down, skeleton staff are keeping things propped up and next year’s hiring budget is still ambiguous. Even if you are a good candidate for your dream job, it’s highly likely that the company in question won’t return your email or call during this limbo period. Many people also receive bonuses in December, so they usually wait until January to change jobs, which is when many job openings will come about.

On the other side of things, in the retail and hospitality sector, December is when business really starts ramping up with long shifts and late nights. Chances are the boss barely has time to read your email, let alone train you over the Christmas period, so it’s a good idea to not apply during this time.

Extra tip: research the company

Knowing the correct time to start knocking on company’s doors won’t help you much if it’s the wrong time for the company because of extenuating circumstances. That’s why it’s important you do your research and find out what kind of position your favourite companies are in and whether they’re in a position to hire you.

Keep an eye out for any announcements of mass redundancies. If an organisation is trying to cut costs by letting a bunch of people go, then chances are they wouldn’t be in a strong position to bring you on board. In the same vein, if a merger has just happened or is about to kick off, then it’s likely that the company will have a hiring freeze in place. But, this could work to your advantage later on down the line. Organisations often notice gaps in their workforce around 6-12 months after a merger, so this might be the best time to approach them.

Credit: Glenn Carstens Peters