What is the best month to find a job?

Last week we looked at how to format your CV to pass through software systems. Finding or changing jobs will always be a constant in the workforce since new opportunities are continuously being created. Companies replace employees that have left and they staff up for new projects, sometimes they might also need to hire extra staff to add needed skills to a certain department. Naturally, certain factors such as budgets, seasonality and holiday periods influence when companies are actively looking.
South Africa has a vibrant bulk of vacancies at any given time, but are jobs always out there in the same abundance? Yes, but there’s a catch here: there are certain periods of the year that are much hotter when it comes to hiring than others.

It is (not) the season

In terms of advertised vacancies, some of my research work at Adzuna produced the finding that December was one of the months where recruiters were least active with advertising jobs. A lot of companies tend to wind down their activity over the festive season, which is why hiring managers will often focus their energy on the annual office Christmas party than the idea of hiring new talent. That said, using up their recruitment budgets is important to most HR directors, and November usually sees huge activity in job advertisements.

Online career searches are (for many) best done just before or after December.

But here’s some good news: there are also a lot less active job seekers applying for jobs over the festive season. This could mean that instead of browsing thousands of job listings every day, you could just set up job alerts, have them delivered to you via email, and then enjoy your holiday season like the rest of the South African population. Thus, the festive season could be the best or worst time for you, depending on your situation.

A new year might not equal a new job

As January’s New Year sets in, a lot of job seekers try to live up to their resolutions and find their dream job. Despite the idea that new jobs open up in the New Year, there was a general decline in advertised vacancies during the month of January, dropping some 2% compared to the amount jobs posted in December 2016.
This is partly because companies have not yet started properly recruiting, often since the hiring managers are still on holiday. My time in the recruitment sector also taught me that some firms are guarding their hiring budget until later in the year.
So should you therefore be looking for a new job with the onset of the New Year? Perhaps not, you may well be better off with applying for your dream job around February, when the recruitment cycle has started picking up again after the festive season. By February, job counts had risen 15% and were back at November levels.

The secret lies in the sector

Depending on what type of job you’re looking at landing, the timing for your application could be the difference between make and break.
As graduates finish off their degrees by the end of September annually, the number of advertised graduate jobs tends to rise rapidly. This means that although there are more jobs on offer for graduates at during the final quarter of the year, there is also a lot more competition. By starting your jobs search well in advance (before actually finishing up your studies), you could well be getting one foot in the door and stand a much better chance of landing your dream job.
The same cannot be said for jobs in the public sector however, since these vacancies tend to decline towards the end of the financial year as budgets are signed off for close of the business year. Job seekers looking at securing new accountant jobs, however, can benefit from this time of the year since it marks a spike (>10%) in the industry’s overall vacancies.
If teaching is your passion, you may well be able to land your dream job by applying at the start of the academic year. The number of advertised vacancies for teaching jobs tends to rise after the festive season, but you could also find a great position by applying for a teaching job during the second quarter of the year.
While I can’t possibly incorporate examples of every sector into this post, these summaries should give a rough idea of how important timing can be when it comes to finding your ideal job. Ensure that you understand your industry’s annual cycle since this is critical if you want to ensure you’re applying for the right job at the perfect time.

Some application timing tips

  • It’s never a bad time to look for a job – When you find yourself going about ‘business-as-usual’, keep in mind that there are always new vacancies opening up. Go ahead and set up email alerts for your ideal jobs and apply for them as they come in.
  • Continuously improve yourself – Business not going quite the way it should? Why not consider improving your skills and upping the ante of your CV? Adzuna has a great tool, ValueMyCV, which can help you estimate what you’re worth in terms of your skills and working experience. If the results don’t reflect a result you’d like a prospective employer to see, it’s time to brush up on your weak areas and get some personal improvements done.
  • Get a head start – Sometimes people are forced to take up seasonal jobs in order to get them one step closer to landing their dream jobs. A casual role might not seem ideal, but it could lead to a more permanent employment situation once you show your employer what you’re really made of, almost like a test run!

While for some there is a clear “best time” to apply for jobs, there will probably never be a perfect time that applies to everyone. But, it is never be too late or early to start looking for a career that is worth spending all your time and efforts on. Get that CV in shape, adjust your mindset, and start at the very least being available (more about this next week!).

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