Here Are the Best Times to Get a New Job

March 14th 2016

Justin Reynolds

The unemployment rate has dropped significantly over the past few years, but youth unemployment still remains at a much higher rate. The U.S. unemployment rate was 4.9 percent in February, but the rate for young people in the same period was more than double that: 10.5 percent.

In today's job market, the deck seems stacked against younger folk. But if you do your due diligence, you can increase the chances of landing a gig the next time you apply.

Companies hire people throughout the year. But by studying the hiring patterns of companies, a number of trends emerge that, when kept top of mind, should help you receive an offer sooner than later.

1. Apply during the holiday season

Many companies set their budgets for the upcoming year during the beginning of the fourth quarter, according to Lynda Spiegel, a 15-year human resources professional and founder of Rising Star Resumes. That means they usually interview for new staff members from October through January.

“Counterintuitive though it sounds, the December holidays are a great time to look, because everyone’s a bit more relaxed,” Spiegel told ATTN:.

It’s a good idea to track a few target companies, but blindly sending resumes won’t get you hired, Spiegel added. Instead, you should cultivate network contacts at target companies so that they can recommended you for a position the moment one opens up.

2. Lots of job offers get made in September

Having interviewed at 99 companies over a five-year period, Silvia Pingitore knows a thing or two about what it takes to get hired. She’s the founder of The Shortlisted, a career advice site based in the United Kingdom.

“September is the best month for applying, as it’s when the most offers are out there,” Pingitore told ATTN:.

Summers tend to be slower, as managers take vacations, and the team trickles in and out of the office. But when school is back in session, business picks up, and people get hired.

3. The time of day you apply matters

The time of day you send your application may matter more than the time of year, Pingitore said.

“Avoid weekends and nights, and avoid working hours if you’re at the office,” Pingitore said. “Prepare a draft of the email and send it out before the next working day starts: Say, when you’re on the train to work. This will be the first email the recruiter will find that day.”

This makes sense: You don’t want prospective employers to think you’re looking for a new job while you’re on the clock.

4. Apply right when a company announces a huge round of financing or secures a new contract

If your goal is to work for a startup or land a gig in a specific industry, you’re best off tracking industry news and networking with business leaders of those companies, according to Stephen Lidner, executive partner with The Workplace Group. That way, when funding or growth allows them to hire, they already know who you are.

“Many great jobs already having leading candidates before they are advertised,” Lidner told ATTN:.

Pingitore agreed, but cautioned job seekers not to assume that more funding automatically means more hiring.

“Companies might choose to use funding to boost other assets,” such as property, equipment, patents, and even competition, she said. “In any case, sending a spontaneous application mentioning that you’ve heard the news is always a good idea. It shows you know a lot about the company.”

5. Looking for an entry-level position? Be one of the first applicants

In the market for entry-level or hourly positions? If so, “being early in the application process is best,” Lidner said. That’s because many entry-level positions receive hundreds if not thousands of applications.

Once a company decides to hire someone for such a position, there’s a good chance they won’t review additional applicants — even if the best candidate is buried somewhere in the pile.

6. Not a perfect match? Apply later on

If you aren’t exactly what a company is looking for — but you’re kind of close — you don’t want to be the first applicant who walks through the door, Lidner said.

Instead, you should give hiring managers a chance to fine-tune their expectations, betting on the Recency Effect, which says that the last thing presented to us is the thing we remember best. In other words, don’t be first person a hiring manager sees who doesn’t have all the qualities he or she is looking for. Try to be the last candidate who is pretty close to ideal.

7. In the market for seasonal employment? Apply way ahead of time

If you want to get a job at a seasonal location — think chairlift operator at a ski resort or lifeguard at a country club — it’s important to be ready to apply long before the season begins.

“In retail, seasonal hiring begins in September to prepare for the holiday season,” Lidner said. “Candidates should apply as soon as the job posting appears.”

Shrewd business owners — the kind you’d want to work for — are always trying to plan ahead, so the earlier you can help them make their decision, the better.