When’s the best time to look for a job?

We asked recruiter Louis Williamson.

One of the most common questions a candidate will ask me at the end of an interview is “is this a good time to be looking for a new job?”

While it might seem that the question is a seasonal one and dependent on micro and macroeconomic factors, there are some universal truths behind the job search process. Let’s take this step by step.

Seasonal fluctuations

The seasonal vagaries of the recruitment market are self-evident and self-explanatory: the new year is usually a good time to be looking for a new role and for a company to be seeking new staff. Few recruiters will not have been rather overwhelmed with the usual Christmas / early January rush of candidates whose first thought this year was to change the course of their working life. This wave lasts for the first part of the year, usually fading off around Easter for a week or two, then dies completely over July and August.

There is a second wind for the market around mid-September from those people who have enjoyed their holidays too much and feel so miserable to be back at work that they immediately start looking for their next step. That momentum will carry the market through to late November.

Economic factors are also significant

While employers, job seekers and recruiters alike dread the thought of another recession, a candidate’s perspective on the effect of the economy will be at least as valid as any recruiter’s given their exposure to the number of roles available across the recruitment world.

The only honest answer is that it’s a great market to be looking in if we have a suitable job for you on our books, and not so good if there isn’t. While that sounds rather obvious, it is the most honest response you will get from any recruitment company. For most people, the two month period they spend looking for jobs doesn’t’ coincide with the same two months their ideal employer spends looking for someone at that level and salary.

The answer – don’t stop looking

Working on the hypothesis that the market is only good if there is a role with your name on it, I would suggest the following approach to job hunting that should make the vagaries of the recruitment world less frustrating and improve your chances of landing the ideal role: never stop looking for the right move.

Track the key websites monthly or even weekly and always have an up to date CV that is ready to go should the perfect role appear. If the process takes one, two, twelve or twenty-four months, it doesn’t matter. Just be ready for the role when you see it. That way the market suits you, rather than you trying to suit the market. The right position may well arrive in the middle of August in the midst of a recession – just don’t let it pass you by.