Chris Stappard, Managing Director at Edward Reed Recruitment, shares his insight into when it’s best to start your job search, and how to ensure your applications stand out.
Different companies hire at different times as and when they need new staff, which means there should be some job vacancies at any given time of year. But, in terms of both quality and quantity, some months are definitely better than others when it comes to job hunting.
By knowing when to apply for jobs, you can give yourself the greatest chance of finding the best roles — and, hopefully, land your dream job. Below, I’ll be sharing some of my top tips for timing your job searches just right, as well as my suggestions for making your application stand out during busy periods.
Don’t focus your search during the summer or Christmas period
If you want to spend time thoroughly updating your CV or filling out job applications properly, it might not always be possible to fit job hunting around your working week. That’s why all the time off over the summer bank holidays and Christmas break may seem like the perfect times to look for new opportunities. Plus, if you want to sever ties with your current place before you begin your job search, who wouldn’t want to do so during the hottest or the most festive times of the year?
However, mid-summer and Christmas happen to be the worst seasons for companies to take on new staff and there will likely be very few adverts posted, so you may be disappointed with what’s available to you in August and December. You may even find yourself having to wait a month or two before more job adverts are placed and you’re able to find a suitable role.
Look for jobs in January, February, and September
If you hang on until after Christmas, you’ll find many more opportunities waiting for you. In fact, January is the top month of the year when it comes to job searches, based on how many postings are listed. Other popular months for you to target include February and September.
Despite the gold rush of jobs at these times of year, it’s important to be vigilant. It can take less than four weeks to fill a role, so there’s no point hanging around if you do spot a job you think would be perfect for you. It could help to have a few CVs saved that focus on your different key skills, as well as a few template cover letters, just to help speed up the application process and make it that little bit quicker.
How to stand out against your competition
The best times to job search are also the busiest, so you’re inevitably going to have to compete with hundreds — and sometimes even thousands — of applicants for the same role. As a result, many employers will spend just a few seconds looking over your application before narrowing their candidate pool down.
So how can you make sure yours grabs their attention? Depending on your industry, there are a few different gimmicks you can use to stand out from the crowd, particularly if you’re applying for the likes of design roles that require you to demonstrate your creativity. But, perhaps the most important thing you can do is always write a cover letter.
Whether you’re filling out an application form or emailing a hiring manager directly, you always want to include a personalised, friendly, and useful summary of who you are and why you think you’re the perfect match for the role you’re applying for. Don’t just list your achievements — that’s what your CV is for. This is your opportunity to explain how your skills and qualifications match the job description and convince whoever’s reading that you’re the perfect candidate for the job.
It’s also important that you don’t forget to include your hobbies and interests somewhere in your CV. It’s likely that employers are reading through piles of applications from candidates who all have the same qualifications and similar work histories. Giving them a glimpse of your personality and allowing them to picture where you’d fit in at their company could be what it takes to make them choose your application over someone else’s.
The tips in this guide can help you time your job search perfectly. Bear them in mind when you next start to apply, and you’re sure to find hunting for your dream job a lot easier.