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What’s the best time to look for work?

You’re happy at work. Life is ticking along OK. You like your colleagues. Your boss is decent. So there’s no need to think about looking for a new job, right?

Many recruiters say the best time to look for new job opportunities is always. It can’t hurt to look for work when you don’t need it. There’s less pressure, no rush and no need to move if you don’t want to.

Searching for work doesn’t mean looking all day every day, but it means getting ready in case an amazing opportunity pops up OR matters shift at work and you’re not happy. ‘It’s about keeping your eyes and ears open,’ says Bec Beecham, Recruitment Consultant, Business Support, face2face Recruitment.

Be prepared is the ultimate advice. This means spending time:

  • Sussing out recruitment agencies, choosing one that has great experience and a proven track record.
  • Registering with that agency (face2face services are free and confidential) but being clear about when you want your recruiter to be contact you so they’re not bothering you and you’re not wasting their time.
  • Meeting with your recruiter to discuss your story and career aspirations.
  • Working with your recruiter to update your resume, both content and format (your recruiter may even advise you to prepare a few versions depending on your skill sets).
  • Conducting research on what’s out there, especially if you’ve not been active in the market, to build base knowledge and inspire some thinking. This could include reading expert articles on how to ace a panel interview, tips for writing a cover letter, the top 22 questions at interview and what not to do during interview.
  • Making sure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date.
  • Tidying your social media presence.
  • Thinking about who you might want for referees if you need to act quickly.

Common questions

Here are common questions we’re asked about timing for looking for work.

What if my boss finds out I’m looking?

Our services are entirely confidential. We don’t recommend that you spend time at work trawling through recruitment or job sites—do this after hours.

What season is best for job hunting?

There isn’t a set season. If you need work now, it’s best to look now. Overall, major holiday times, such as summer or Christmas, can be slower with decision makers potentially on vacation. This doesn’t mean you can’t keep talking to your recruiter and researching and networking so you’re ready when things gear up again.

Is timing influenced by the industry or sector I work in?

Possibly. If you’re looking for work in an industry that has a shut-down period, say between Christmas and mid New Year, then that’s not an ideal time. The end of the financial year is also challenging. Hiring usually takes place before the end of financial year or in July or beyond when the dust settles.

What other factors can affect timing?

Political factors can affect timing, such as a government election that can lead to a hiring freeze. Federal budget time can be tricky since money for positions in the new financial year is yet to be announced. This doesn’t mean you can’t look, but things might be slow.

Is there any time I shouldn’t be looking for work?

It’s not smart to look for work (unless you absolutely have to) if you’re:

  • in the middle of a major project and your focus could be disrupted
  • heading off on a big vacation and so won’t be available to talk to your recruiter or be interviewed
  • about to undergo a major life change, like getting married, or having a baby (you might just stress yourself out).

Is there time when I should definitely be looking?

Yes. Here are some:

  • You don’t like going to work or being at work.
  • You’re always complaining to family and friends that you hate your job and/or your boss.
  • You don’t have anything nice to say about your colleagues.
  • You’re not challenged.
  • Everything irritates you, big things and little things.
  • You’ve made your contribution to your workplace and need to move on for personal advancement.
  • You feel you’re never going to be promoted because of the organisation’s structure.
  • You know a restructure is coming and believe your job is at risk (examine your options since it might be good to stay and get a payout).
  • You can see market conditions changing and presenting new opportunities.

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