We Asked, You Answered: The Best Time to Job Hunt


Job Seeker Perception vs. Hiring Reality

So, is it true that “to everything there is a season?”

We asked you in the December 2013 issue of Make the Connection, “When’s the best time to conduct your job search?”

The results were announced in our newsletter’s January 2014 issue, and the majority of you (42.86%) responded with “All the time,” followed by “Whenever I want a new job” (28.57%), “January – March” (14.29%), and “April – June” (14.29%).

We asked some IT recruitment experts from Chase Technology Consultants (CTC) to weigh in on the prime time for your job search. And according to their responses (Drum roll, please!), 85.72% of you were partially right.

“Job seekers should always be looking for new opportunities,” says Boston Tech Recruitment Manager Scott Marchesi, “Especially if they work in the tech industry, where the job market is too competitive for there to be a right or wrong time to start.”

Chris Bodensieck, Jr., Open Source & Mobile Technologies Staffing Specialist concurs, “If you’re not keeping an ear to the ground throughout the year, you could miss the opportunity for what could be your ‘dream job.’ Even if you’re gainfully employed, I recommend taking a thirty-minute phone call with a hiring manager if a job description piques your interest. It couldn’t hurt – It’s an opportunity to gain more interviewing experience, expand your market and industry knowledge, and add to your professional network.”

And speaking of searching while already working, Open Source & Mobile Technologies Staffing Specialist Jim Tyrrell adds, “That’s actually the best time to look for a new one. You won’t feel pressured to take the first offer that comes your way, and you’ll have the ability to look at two or three offers before making the best decision for your career.”

It’s true that many who are unemployed find that first job offer extended tempting. But it’s important that you consider the offer from the perspective of someone who’s employed in order to advance in your career. Ask yourself: Am I truly interested in the position and the company? Are my skills best utilized in this role? Is the job challenging, yet not overwhelming? Based on your salary and benefits history, and the job requirements, is the compensation package suitable and satisfactory? Does this position help me achieve my short- and long-term goals?

Admittedly, it’s tough enough to stay on top of the potential opportunities out there and your pending applications, and particularly so when you’re employed. “That’s what recruiters are for, to make job searching stress-free for you whether you’re currently employed or not,” suggests Kelsey Griggs, Microsoft / .NET Staffing Specialist. “Maintaining an honest and detailed conversation with us about your search parameters and career direction allows us to develop a recruitment strategy designed specifically for your needs and to adjust as necessary. Happily employed but want to stay informed? Let us know and we’ll reach out occasionally to check in with you. Want to look but busy with projects? Request that we alert you of potential opportunities via whatever’s convenient for you. Trying to stay under the radar? We can trust us to be discrete and represent you anonymously. Actively seeking? We’ll rev up your job search and help introduce you to clients faster.”

Obviously, if your current workload and/or personal life are stressing you out, it’s best to put your job search on “pause” so you don’t make commitments you can’t keep and end up negatively impacting your current and future employment. Feeling overwhelmed can lead to subpar job performance and lasting negative impressions on interviewers – Just disappointed, burned bridges all around. Scale your search and expectations to match the time and effort you can afford to invest.

All this being said, “There are definitely certain times of the year that are more conducive to job hunting than others,” notes Boston Tech Recruitment Manager Stacey Frenette. “Generally speaking – although they can vary by industry and company – mid-January through March tend to be the busiest hiring months, and May through August the slowest. Companies tend to put off hiring during the winter holiday season and the summer months, when their people are more likely to be focused on completing essential tasks in anticipation of being out of the office for more extended periods of time.”

And considering most companies base their fiscal year off the calendar year, “Apply in the few weeks following the winter holidays to get the most ROI from your job search,” advises David Brockmann, IT Talent Acquisition Specialist. “The beginning of the New Year is when departments get their budgets renewed and teams get assigned new initiatives, thus having the means and the need to hire new people to meet the requirements of new projects,” he says, “So you’ll want to launch your search then in order to avoid the influx – and competition – of recent college grads in the job market come May and June.”

Key Takeaways

  • You should always be on the lookout for new opportunities and pursue leads that pique your interest, even if you’re already employed.
  • However, the best time to job search is always when you have a positive attitude, are willing to consider a new job, and are able to commit to the interview process!
  • Recruiters can be great resources, especially if you want to know about unpublished job openings or cannot treat your job search as a full-time job.
  • Hiring activities peak in the months before and after vacation and holiday breaks – in January through March, and September and October – but recruitment cycles do vary by company and industries.
  • However, that doesn’t mean your job search should too. There are benefits to continuing your job search during slow hiring periods! Play up recruitment peaks, but don’t wait until then to start preparing and looking.

Yet, lots of people still apply to jobs towards the end of Q4, in the midst of the holidays, observes Bodensieck, Jr. “The approaching end of the year causes many to consider that new career in the New Year,” he says, “But really, the ideal time to engage in a job search in order to lock in a new job for the New Year is in September and October, before the Thanksgiving holiday and the December blur. You have to take into consideration, as Stacey [Frenette] said, the holiday calendar and that many people will be on vacation then. If you’re sending out résumés in the few weeks leading up to prime travel dates, more often than not your correspondence will go unnoticed or forgotten and unanswered.”

Still, you’d be wise to keep your job search moving since not all companies and industries hold off hiring over the holidays and summer. If you’re an active seeker, you may find yourself at an advantage then because less applicants tend to apply out of fear of being overlooked. Take the time to be selective about which companies you’re applying to and to ensure you’re submitting quality applications.

Keep in mind also that the holidays and summer are also when seasonal or contract job opportunities tend to be abundant. If you’re not interested in those, take advantage of time off by completing some of the tasks integral to a successful job search, such as updating your resume and LinkedIn profile, gathering professional references and recommendations, conducting company and industry research, practicing interview questions, attending networking events, etc. – Because if and when the right opportunity presents itself, you want to be ready and able to move quickly on it!

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Photo Credit: ManagingAmericans.com