When Is the Best Time of Year to Look for a Job?

A couple sit on the living room floor while smiling at each other with their laptop and calculator on the table.

From start to finish, it might take anywhere from three to six months to land a job. But when's the best time of year to start looking? If you already have a stable job, you could start looking for a job at any time, but experts say there are two months in particular when you might stand the best chance of finding a job.

The Best Months to Look for a Job

January and February are ideal months to look for a job, according to experts. Why are those two months a prime time for job hunting? Job website Indeed and the career-focused Imagine America Foundation say companies tend to do the most hiring in January and February because:

  • Many corporate hiring budgets take effect at the beginning of the year.
  • Employers' hiring needs often are clearer at the start of a new year.
  • Hiring managers are back from holiday breaks and are ready to forge ahead with filling job openings.
  • Hiring frequently slows down at the end of the year, resulting in a potential backlog of job openings in January and February.
  • The winter months, when business might be slower, sometimes free up more time for tasks like writing job descriptions and posting job openings.

Is There a Bad Time of Year to Look for a Job?

Jobs are available throughout the year, however, so don't feel as though you must limit yourself to January or February. Here are three reasons why that's the case.

  1. Summertime might be a good time to look for a job. While fewer job opportunities may be available in the summer months, fewer people are likely to be hunting for jobs. This means you could face less competition in the job market.
  2. In September, October and November, employers often are assessing their annual financial performance thus far. This review might lead to the realization that some job openings should be filled before the end of the year.
  3. March, April and May—the three months following the job-hunting peak of January and February—might be fertile ground for job seekers. Why? Some companies are trying to replace employees who changed jobs in the prior months.

Of course, the absolute best time of year to look for a job depends on your own needs, your career field and the current state of the economy. Don't feel obligated to wait for peak hiring season if you're desperate to leave your current job.

Keep in mind that some employers don't follow a budget year that matches the calendar year. For instance, nonprofit organizations often use a budget year that starts July 1 and ends June 30. Therefore, if you're seeking a job in the nonprofit sector, you might find that July and August—the first two months of the budget year—might be a great time to hunt for work.

How to Boost Your Odds of Getting a Job

Aside from choosing the best time of year to look for a job, what else can you do to improve your chances of landing a job? Here are four tips.

  1. Polish your resume. Your resume should be tailored to each job you apply for so your most applicable experience and skills are put forward for an employer to see.
  2. Review your online presence. Comb through your social media accounts to see whether any images or comments could be viewed negatively by a potential employer. You can also adjust privacy settings to make it so your profiles aren't visible to the general public.
  3. Cast a wide net. Ask relatives, friends, colleagues and others in your circle whether they're aware of job openings that might be a good fit for you. Referrals from these folks could open doors that simply applying online might not.
  4. Do your homework. Get up to speed on the industries you're looking at and the employers you're targeting. This knowledge can help you ask better questions during interviews.

How Should You Prepare Financially for a Job Change?

One of the best ways to prepare for a job change is to ensure your finances are in good shape. Some of your financial considerations could include:

  • What does your budget look like? Are your income and expenses in line? If you don't have a budget, it might be wise to create a budget before jumping to a new job.
  • How flush is your emergency fund? One common suggestion is that your emergency fund contains enough money to cover three to six months' worth of basic expenses. If you think your emergency fund is inadequate or you don't have one at all, it might be smart to work on that ahead of a job change.
  • How is your credit? Some employers check the credit of job applicants during the background check process. Before you apply for jobs, you might want to obtain your credit report to see whether anything could raise a red flag with employers. In addition, you might consider signing up for a credit monitoring product like Experian IdentityWorks that can help you spot potential issues.

Changing jobs can be disruptive to your personal finances, especially if your new gig doesn't work out. Before making any major moves, take a step back and consider what's best for you.