Best and Worst Time of Year to Look for a Job

  • January and February are the most popular hiring months.
  • Avoid the summer and holiday seasons when looking for a new job since most companies slow down during those periods.
  • The best days and times to look for a job are the beginning of the workweek and late mornings; this is when most businesses update job boards.
  • This article is for job seekers looking to determine the best and worst times to find a new job.

Job hunting sometimes seems like a never-ending process. While you may not have control over the time of year you need to find a job, certain seasons are better than others when it comes to getting hired. Whether you’re fresh out of college and searching for your first gig or trying to transition into a more senior role, here are the best and worst times to look for a job.

Best times to look for a job

Every industry and position is different, so there isn’t a universal hiring season. However, many experts agree that the beginning of the year is a great time to look for a new position for a range of reasons.

“During the transition into the new year and into early February, this is when teams are getting new momentum [and] adding on new members to accomplish their goals when a business is growing,” said Valerie Streif, marketing manager at GetMyBoat and former content manager at mock interview platform Pramp.

Shane Green, founder of training and consulting company SGEi, agreed. “Companies complete budgets in October and November and will post new jobs in December, expecting to hire in January and February,” he said.

Many people reflect on their current roles and responsibilities at the end of the year and make resolutions to find new opportunities in the new year. When people leave for new endeavors, it creates even more job openings for applicants.

“[This is] a time when many people quit or change positions, which frees up opportunities for job seekers, too,” Streif said. “This shuffle aligns with New Year’s resolutions and the desire by many for a change.”

However, just because you time your job search to the start of the year doesn’t mean you’ll instantly find the perfect role. “The key to reaching your new-year job goals and landing a new job … is to maintain momentum well beyond January,” said Vicki Salemi, a career expert at Monster.

Worst times to look for a job

While it’s not impossible to get a job in the middle of the summer or during the holiday season, a good general rule is to avoid looking for a new job during those times.

“During the middle of summer, the least amount of vacancies are posted, not only for seasonal jobs but also regular positions, since teams are usually juggling many different employees taking time off for summer vacation,” Streif said. “It’s also an awkward time to get started — right in the middle of the year.”

Job seekers should also avoid applying to positions right before the end of the year because employers are often stressed about the holidays and taking time off. That doesn’t mean your efforts have to come to a complete halt, however. During these slow times, update your resume and cover letters, research companies and invest in networking, Streif recommended. [Check out these resume writing tips.]

Green also believes the second half of the year is one of the worst times to look for a job because companies may tighten budgets and put hiring freezes in place to limit expenses.

“My best advice is to get into a new role in the first quarter and spend the second quarter excelling in your new role so that, if any budget cuts happen, you are someone they want to keep,” Green said.

The beginning of the year is often the best time to look for a new job, while the summer and holiday seasons are usually the worst.

Best days for job searches

There are not only better months but also better days of the week to search for a new job. According to one study cited by ABC News, Mondays are the best day of the week to apply for a job — candidates who applied on this day were most likely to move forward in the hiring process. Just as notably, the study found that Saturdays are the worst day to apply for jobs. 

Based on its own survey, SmartRecruiters concluded that “not only is Tuesday the most popular day for companies to post jobs, it’s also the day when the highest number of people apply for jobs and the most popular day to get hired.” It’s important to note, though, that both of these studies were conducted long before the pandemic upended the business world. Unfortunately, new data on this subject in the wake of COVID-19’s impact has yet to be released.

Meanwhile, according to Indeed, you’re better off sending your resume to potential employers early in the morning or late at night. In both cases, you’re increasing the likelihood your resume is the first one the hiring manager sees that day. 

How far in advance to look for a job

One challenge in choosing the best time to look for a job is determining how far in advance to start searching. The ideal time frame to start your new job search is one to three months in advance of your preferred employment start date. Two months is likely the best length of time to look for a job for the majority of professionals. One month may make you feel rushed, and in down economies, even three months may not be long enough.

Also, keep in mind that while there might be seasons or months when it’s easier to find a job, the best time to look for a new position is continual — you should look until you find the perfect fit. 

“The best time is always right now, so keep searching,” Salemi said. “Maintain momentum, continue looking, and don’t give up until you land a coveted offer; the right opportunity is just waiting for you to pursue it.”  

Now that you know the best time to look for a job, it’s time to freshen up your resume and prepare for interviews. Here are some tips to set yourself up for a successful job search.

  • Quantify and qualify your resume. It’s one thing to say you wrote content at a digital marketing agency. It’s another thing entirely to say that the eight blog posts you wrote per month for a certain client increased their impressions by 500 percent year over year. Detailing your previous work experiences and explaining what you’ve achieved can help you stand out from the pack.
  • Refine your online presence. If you haven’t updated your LinkedIn profile in a while, now is the perfect time to do so. Use LinkedIn and professional organizations to start networking with people in your industry who can potentially aid in your search. [See our list of LinkedIn alternatives for more networking opportunities.]
  • Leverage your network. Compile a list of references and gather personal recommendation letters before you start sending out your resume. This way, when potential employers ask for testimonials, you already know exactly where to turn.
  • Be ready to apply sooner than later. After finding a desirable opening, don’t wait to apply. Some of the most prestigious job openings involve months-long interview processes, so when applying, the early bird often gets the worm.
  • Practice for upcoming job interviews. Before your first interview — and perhaps before each and every one of your interviews —  participate in mock interviews with a mentor or trusted friend. These can help you figure out how to answer common hiring manager interview questions and avoid interview mistakes. Studying how body language affects job interviews may also prove helpful.

Hiring managers can’t ask certain interview questions for legal reasons. You should familiarize yourself with these questions so you can firmly yet professionally decline to answer them if asked.

It’s never too soon to start looking for jobs

While some days and times have historically been better for securing job interviews, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation. The times when one hiring manager is reviewing applications might not overlap at all with another’s schedule, so it’s impossible to know for sure when your efforts will pay off most. Just remember how far out you apply could be more important than the exact day and time. The sooner you start looking for your next job — and the more you prepare — the sooner you may find the right fit.

Max Freedman contributed to the writing and reporting in this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.