This Is the Best Time of Year to Plan a Career Move, According to Job Experts

published Aug 8, 2021
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Searching for a new job can be exciting, whether you’re not especially jazzed about your current role or if it’s simply time to grow in a new environment with new responsibilities. But that’s not to say making the switch is without stress. From prepping your résumé and boosting your interview skills to scouring the internet for a job you’re actually interested in, switching careers can feel like a full-time job in and of itself.

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According to career experts, you can make the work a little easier by planning a career move at the right time — and, in the interim, doing what you can to make yourself a dream candidate. Here’s what you need to know about when to start applying for new jobs, according to seasoned career coaches and resume experts.

When is the best time to plan a career move?

There are two times of year that might make your job search a little easier. Kyle Elliott, a career coach and consultant in Silicon Valley, says summer is a great time to search for a new job. For one, he says summer is often a less busy time for hiring managers, which means they’ll have more bandwidth to review your résumé. In addition, many professionals take a break from the job search during the summer due to vacations — which means you may face less competition. Lastly, many companies start a new fiscal year (and renew their budgets!) on July 1, potentially leading to additional openings.

But don’t sweat it if you can’t swing summer. According to Jordan Lowry, chief operating officer at the résumé-writing service Resumoo, January is another great time to start applying for new jobs — especially for established folks who want to land a more senior role. “The budget for the new year is set, management additions may have been added, and departments usually have the spending available to make an attractive offer to the right candidate,” he says. 

Ultimately, though, how prepared you are to find a new job is more important than any date on the calendar. “The best time to start planning a career move is when you are still employed,” says Rolf Bax, the chief human resources officer at the résumé help and career insight company You may not have that luxury if you were let go or laid off, which is why Bax recommends having at least six months of living expenses saved as a buffer if that does happen. “Switching careers is something you need to be methodical about to avoid setting yourself up for financial hardship,” he says. 

What to do in the meantime:

While you might not be actively applying for jobs right now, you don’t have to wait to start your search. Lowry says it can be helpful to plant the seeds early by preparing yourself and your résumé for the role of your dreams.

For example, during times when hiring is slower, Elliott suggests honing in on networking and relationship-building within the industry you want to work in. “Given that most jobs are landed by way of networking, you want to focus your efforts on building relationships with people at your target companies,” he says. 

Bax suggests bolstering your résumé in the interim, too. “If you can take time off to plan, start researching what kind of training or upskilling you might need to make the switch,” he says. As your skill set increases, update your résumé accordingly. 

Erin Urban, a certified executive coach, recommends developing a list of career contributions based on your career goals or job targets, and including as many specific, situational examples of how you’ve positively impacted your team, company, or client based on where you want to go. “Too many professionals miss out on opportunities because they are developing their stories in the context of what they have always done,” she says. 

And as you search for roles — even if there’s a lot available — don’t give up if you’re not landing something right off the bat. Often, Urban says, great opportunities come when people diversify their job search activity. “Develop your résumé, be active online, and build strategic relationships based on where you want to go with your career long-term to see the best results,” she notes.