If you need a job pronto, then the best time to apply is now. You, that unreasonably short season between not yet and too late. However, if you have some flexibility, it can be worth your while to focus your job search on certain times of the year.
For the most part, you will want to tailor your search by the kind of work that you do, but some trends span every industry. Summer is typically a slow time for job seekers. Some companies put their hiring processes on hold, and many applications are inactive. Does this mean you should forget about job hunting and just hit the pool? No way. Make the slower time period work for you by sending in applications just as you normally would. The lower volume of applications will make it easier for you to stand out, and also to get your foot in the door before applications pick up again.
This advice also applies for sending in applications during the holiday season. Lots of people slow down their job search over the holidays—“No one will be in the office, anyway!”—but in reality, employers will want to get people on board in early January. Instead of waiting for your post-holiday resume, they’ll look to the pile that has been waiting patiently on their desk since December.
With this in mind, teachers will still want to focus on a different season than accountants. Here is a cheat sheet, by industry, of hot times to apply for jobs.
Education– A few months before the start or end of each semester; April-June, September, and December-January
Accounting– A few months before major tax deadlines; January-March and late summer
Finance– 4th quarter, whenever that falls for a company; usually fall
Retail– November and December, to beat the holiday rush
Recreation and Outdoor Industries– February-March
Medicine– January and May, in conjunction with nursing and medical school graduations
See a pattern? The hiring periods for most industries fall a few months before their busy season. If you aren’t sure what the busy season for your industry is, feel free to contact the HR department of companies you are interested in, and politely inquire about their recruitment cycles. Also keep an eye on the job boards, as per usual. If you see fifty jobs for sales associates appear overnight… you can do the math on that one. Broadly speaking, you’ll probably have the best luck in fall and spring, as summer and holiday seasons are busy times for most industries. So for now, hit the pool, but take the Help Wanted section and red marker with you. People still do that, right? Good luck!
What are your experiences with recruiting cycles? Chat it up in the comments below, or tweet to me: @ithinkther4iamb