Sometimes when we’re looking for a new job, we can attribute our success to an element of luck. While we can tick off many of the characteristic and skill requirements on the people specification list there’s also an element of being in the right place at the right time.

But is there a science to job hunting and are there worse, better, and best times to look for a new job?

Like most areas of business, recruitment and hiring are sectors that have patterns of activity.  There are plenty of trends and variations to consider.  Seasonal requirements, hiring budget releases, and periods of concentrated turnover are just three examples.

a red for hire sign on a metal post

The recruitment cycle.

This ‘recruitment cycle’ will affect the hiring behaviours of employers and cause hiring intentions to ebb and flow. Knowing when to strategically consider looking for a new job may help you to approach an employer at just the right time.

Seasonal recruitment.

It’s easy to think of the recruitment or business year as ‘quarters’. Each 3-month quarter has its own unique set of hiring activities.  Considering these helps you to strategise and then plan your own job-seeking activities.

Quarter 1 recruitment.

Q1 recruitment happens between January and the end of March. Whether you’re a job seeker or an organisation, January is a great time to be both looking for work and looking to hire.

January often brings with it a new hiring budget. Organisations are given a new allocation of money to either bring on new team members or begin new projects.

The time-to-hire process is often speedier too. Hiring managers and decision-makers are back after seasonal breaks; energised to get the new year off to a great start.

New Year’s Resolutions around career and professional goals also increase the number of job seekers open to new offers. Many have used the time to reassess their career goals for the new year and are more open to considering new opportunities.

Interestingly, the first 6 months of the year incite the most executive level job searches; January – mid-June is the prime time for recruiting and hiring senior roles.

Quarter 2 recruitment.

If you are a graduate or looking to hire for graduate schemes, Spring is the sweet spot. Graduates are emerging from Higher Education armed with the skills and motivation to apply for their first jobs. Companies often begin the recruitment journey  in April to have recent graduates in place by June 1.

Quarter 3 recruitment.

Traditionally, summer brings a slowdown in recruitment. Summer holidays begin and this has implications for hiring activity. Hiring decisions are slower to come in and the hiring timeline increases.

Job seekers and potential candidates have less time to consider new roles as they take on additional workloads to cover for holidaying colleagues, juggle childcare commitments and take holidays themselves.

That isn’t to say that you should stop applying or hiring for new jobs over the summer, it just means that responses may be slower and things won’t happen as quickly as you may like.

On top of this, if it’s a more senior role you’re looking for the time to hire may be slower again. These roles tend to demand a larger interview panel. They require more meet and greets along the way that are often hampered by conflicting holiday schedules.

Quarter 4 recruitment.

Autumn brings another new round of energy to hiring. The summer holiday season has ended and people have a more BAU mindset. Seasonal or festive breaks are on the horizon, and people are eager to fill vacancies before things slow down again.

Often hiring budgets won’t carry over, so department heads are keen to use up any resources left in the pot.

Stay up to date and in the know.

Being aware of the trends within your sector will help you to tailor your job search, as will being familiar with the hiring patterns of your target companies.

Use a company’s social media to get an idea of their hiring pipelines and when they appear to be actively recruiting. Look out for patterns of activity and periods of quiet.

Equally, if there’s a particular company, you’d love to work for you should make it your business to stay aware of any organisational changes. For example, have they recently received funding, or embarked on a new project? Both these may indicate they intend to hire soon.

Social networking will also help you stay informed about the organisations that may be hiring and the roles they are looking to fill. Legitimately connecting with as many people in your sector as possible will enable you to actively identify open roles. If one of your connections starts a new role, there is a potential gap that needs filling.

Could you be the one to fill it ??

Ignite Digital build digital careers by matching industry-leading talent with organisations at the fore front of their sector.

If you are looking for a new digital, data, or tech role we can help. Reach out today.

About the author: I manage the recruitment for a range of digital roles for my clients on both a retained and contingency basis. I specialise in senior and confidential appointments, always giving a first class representation of a client’s employer brand.

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