I read that the start of a calendar year is the best time to find a new job. This bothers me as the timing does not jive. As a recruiter, I was busiest during the summer. I felt the most under the gun over the summer. Maybe it was a unique business cycle at my previous companies? Or did I try to fit in too much with my own summer vacation? Now as a Career Consultant, I advise clients on small and big advantages and knowing the best time of year helps busy job seekers focus energy at the right time of year. When is the best time? And why do I recall the summer months being the busiest as a recruiter?
Maybe all of the companies I worked for had a July to June fiscal year?
That makes sense, right? Budgets and headcount are approved by June of each year so when July hits, we open budgeted positions are posted. However, only one of the last five companies I worked for had anything other than a calendar year fiscal period. So guess that theory is out the window.
Could it be the type of positions we placed?
That is a great reason, as well, because at a small regional community health clinic, we targeted physicians coming out of residency. Late Spring and early Summer are peak hiring periods. But at another healthcare company, we hired experienced physicians that came to us throughout the year. All other companies didn’t have a “best time to hire” so that debunks that theory.
Maybe it just felt that way because everyone (including me) was on vacation?
Could be. Scheduling interviews is a struggle and during the summer it is worse. The hardest was to gather a selection committee in the same room to debrief a slate of candidates. Candidates are tough to schedule, as well, and often take interview calls while on vacation. But if there are less open positions during the summer months, shouldn’t it all even out? Lower activity to fill less open jobs should make it feel sluggish, not harried. I thought there must be data on the number of open positions across the US and, lo and behold, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) came through.
What did the BLS data show?
I reviewed a spreadsheet on the Bureau of Labor Statistics site and my gut was right. There are more jobs open in the summer. Check it out, you can see my analysis here. I highlighted (in green) the top three months in that year with the highest number of open positions. For example, in 2017, June, July, and September had the highest number of open positions per BLS. I then added all the times that a specific month hit the top three. Since 2010, October is in the top three 6 out of 8 years. What is even more interesting is that July is right behind October in the top three category, 5 out of 8 months. April and September are tied at no.3. While somewhat surprised, the data makes sense to me given my personal recruiting experience. Bottom line, companies open more vacancies in the summer.
What about the start of the year?
January, February, and March each hit the top 3 levels only 1 out of 8 times which is barely more than March and November which didn’t hit the top 3 at all. I theorize that the start of the year feels busy because job seekers are very active (not because of open positions). New Year’s resolutions, coming back from a nice vacation to work is enough to get even the most security-loving job seeker sending out a few résumés. Here is a chart that shows the top months companies open new jobs between 2010 and 2017:
What does this mean for job seekers? If you can choose when you should accelerate your job search, June is the perfect time to start and continue through September. Give the summer your highest effort as there are many more open jobs and other people are on vacation. That means, if you are organized, you can beat out the competition. You’ll talk with recruiters and hiring managers faster. You’ll progress through the job search process a lot quicker than someone who checks out while on vacation. Additionally, given October is right around the corner, you will be will prepared for the #1 month if you have not found a position by then, to go full force when the highest amount of opportunities is at its peak. In summary
Focus during the third quarter. July, August, and September, are the best months to really turn on the steam for your job search. Start in June to get everything prepared for a strong summer effort. It is during the summer with the highest number of open jobs and the time when your competition is very distracted. Job search is time consuming. But if you can focus your energy for a three- to four-month period, your best opportunities are during the summer. Then when you land a great job in the Fall, you’ll start the new year in a new role motivated, happy, and on-fire.