The Best (And Worst) Times To Apply For Jobs


When searching for a job, it can sometimes feel like there are hundreds of opportunities one...

Matt Nicholson

By Matt Nicholson

When searching for a job, it can sometimes feel like there are hundreds of opportunities one moment, and nothing the next. This is because companies follow recruitment cycles, which peak or dip depending on the priorities of the business and the workload at the time.

In this blog, we’ll examine the best and worst times to look for a job, and why a high demand for skills and experience means there’s never really a ‘bad’ time to apply.

The (best and worst) time of year to search for jobs

  • January-March – a great time to look for jobs as budgets are set and projects are in planning.
  • April-June – Still a suitable time to search as notice periods for Jan-March end on outgoing roles.
  • July-August – A quiet time for recruitment, but with skills in high demand, it’s still worthwhile to apply.
  • September-November – The best months for graduates to apply for roles in advance of the new year.
  • December – Most companies slow down during this time, so it’s better to network and prepare for January.

Best time of the year to search – January, February, September, and October

January and February are the best times to apply for roles. Organisations are updating their budgets for the year and are returning to the workplace after the festive season with fresh plans. The process may be slower as more recruitment means larger workloads, but by mid-January, job boards tend to fill up.

Additionally, employees looking to change their jobs in the new year may start leaving their roles in December and hiring managers will be looking to fill those positions during the existing employee’s notice period.

This means the first couple of months of the year are the busiest for hiring and are the best time to look for vacancies and new opportunities.

There’s a similar rush from September through to October. Many companies will be ramping up for projects in the autumn season up to December. With the demand for new talent so high, they will also be looking to take advantage of the new pool of graduates from the previous year. These graduates may find the best results in September’s hiring season.

The worst time of year to search – July, August, and December

In contrast, summer is the worst time of year for new opportunities. By July, many companies have spent their hiring budget and are instead focused on delivering projects, preparing reports, and attending events. Organisations may also have staff on hand, having planned work and staffing to cover gaps created by annual leave.

This means summer can be the slowest time for recruitment; opportunities are still available, but candidates should consider expanding their network, making new connections, researching companies that could be hiring in September – and taking some time off themselves.

Additionally, many companies reduce recruitment in December for the festive period. The focus shifts to completing end-of-year tasks, finishing projects, and lower staff counts due to annual leave. The focus for recruitment will be preparing new roles for release in the new year.

Again, it’s wise for candidates to use this time for research and networking and preparing their CVs for January onwards.

Growth in the industry and high demand for skills

The energy sector follows this recruitment cycle, with spikes slightly earlier in August, but there is an extra consideration. The renewable energy market is set to grow at a CAGR of 8.4% from 2021 to 2030. New projects are underway globally, and the industry is struggling to hire and keep skilled individuals.

Skilled workers in the oil and gas industry are also moving towards renewable roles. This leaves a shortage of skilled and experienced workers in the renewable market. The rate of companies hiring for future work roles rose in August 2022, matching the trend of increased opportunity.

For individuals looking to enter these industries, this means there is no ‘bad time’ to start a job search or to apply. Demand for skills is so high now that while following the peaks could mean the quickest success in placement, opportunities are available year-round.

NES Fircroft can help you find your next role, any time of the year

This guide can help you to plan your job search based on the time of year, but the reality is that we’re seeing growth across all our sectors, and the demand for skilled talent is high. This means there’s never a bad time of year to start your search and NES Fircroft can support your next career move, from search to placement, across over 100 offices worldwide.

NES Fircroft has been supporting engineers, candidates, and technical clients across many different industries throughout the past 50 years. If you’re looking for your next role, check out all our latest opportunities.

If you’re looking for more career tips and advice, check out our blog or sign up to our EngineeringPro newsletter, to receive the latest career advice, industry news, job opportunities and more, directly to your inbox.