Candidates often ask us when is the best time to change jobs, and while this seems like a simple question, there are several answers. There are more jobs available at certain times of year than others as there are also certain times throughout your career that make it much easier to land a new role. Finally, the mindset you’re in can affect how easily you might be able to manage the recruitment process, and this can fluctuate over time.
The answer you get can depend on what you’re actually asking, and as professional recruiters, our job is to get to the bottom of questions like this. This article will answer all of the above.
Best Time of Year to Change Jobs
For many, January seems the best time to start a job search. Indeed, it is the time of year when we see the biggest spike in job adverts. Likewise, as people return from the Christmas break full of hope and ambition, we see a massive influx in new candidate registrations.
As we move into spring, the initial surge of interest levels off, and we return to an average activity level. As we move into summer, temperatures rise, and people go on holiday. Consequently, the number of roles we have to fill goes down, and fewer candidates apply.
In September, we see another surge in recruitment activity as employers want to see new starters settle in before the Christmas break. Then when the New Year comes around, the whole cycle repeats itself.
So does the above suggest a better time of year to look for a new job? We have written several articles in the past explaining why certain times of the year can be better than others for job hunting. In a nutshell:
- The New Year presents many new job opportunities; therefore, it can be a fantastic time for job hunting. On the other hand, applicants face more competition at this time of year, so they may have to work harder to secure an offer.
- Summer is our quietest time in recruitment, but that can mean your application stands more chance of grabbing a hiring manager’s attention.
- Autumn sees another flurry of new opportunities to apply for, but competition from other applicants can make the interview process more challenging.
- In stark contrast, the quiet Christmas period presents an opportunity to get ahead of the competition.
Is There a Better Stage of Your Career Lifecycle to Change Jobs?
Indeed, certain times during your career might make landing a new job role much easier than others. There are far too many to list them all, but here are a few examples:
Upon Graduating from College or University
When many youngsters graduate from college or university, they expect to be able to walk straight into their dream jobs. It often comes as a shock that even with their freshly printed qualifications, they must start at the bottom and work their way up. The way to accelerate career progression is to get on a graduate scheme, an internship or volunteer to work on projects relevant to your qualifications.
With A Few Years of Work Experience
Landing our first jobs can be the most challenging time to find employment. Our lack of work history at this stage makes us an unknown quantity to employers, who think it increases our chances of being flight risk employees. This lack of track record can make it harder to get a job than at any other time in your career.
Fortunately, you won’t stay stuck in this rut forever. Once you have a few years of experience, finding new jobs gets much easier as you become less of a risk to employers.
After Spending 10,000 in Your Area of Expertise
The best time to move jobs can be once you’ve been in a position for around four or five years.
Author Malcolm Gladwell once wrote that you need 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert at something. Many people claim to debunk this theory, but it still holds some weight among hiring managers.
So if we divide 10,000 by 40, the average number of hours most people work in a week, we get 250. Then if we divide 250 by 48, the number of weeks most people work in a year, we arrive at around five years.
If you’re dedicated to your job and put in extra overtime at the beginning of your career, you could shorten the time it takes you to become an expert in your field to around four years.
Whether or not you agree with the 10,000-hour theory, after spending four or five years in your job, you should reach a fair level of confidence in it. When you reach this point, levelling up your job title and salary becomes much more accessible.
How Your Mindset Can Make it the Best Time to Look for Jobs
The best time to look for a job is when we’re feeling upbeat and full of energy. Searching for a new job can be fun and exciting when we’re in this frame of mind. What’s more, when we feel good, we’re more likely to interview well, which improves our chances of getting a job offer.
However, very few of us decide to change jobs when we feel great about the one we’re in. Most often, we leave our jobs because something about it makes us unhappy. Taking time off work to attend interviews will only add to any stress you’re already feeling.
Therefore, finding some positivity is essential before starting your job search. Taking up a new hobby, spending more time with friends or taking time for self-care can all improve your mood. In turn, increased positivity can improve your chances of getting a job.
A Few Final Thoughts on The Best Time to Change Jobs
There may be certain times of the year when there are more open job vacancies than others, but this doesn’t mean your dream job will be available. Applying for employment at any time is a bit of pot luck which you can influence with a positive attitude and good preparation.
In short, the best time to apply for jobs is when you’re feeling in the right frame of mind and at the right stage of your career. Applying for too many jobs too often could make you a job hopper. While staying in a position so long that you become stale can dramatically slow your career progression.
If you’re wondering whether this is a good time to consider your next career move, why not have a chat with one of our recruitment consultants? Our services are completely free for job seekers.