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Your job search in 2017: When’s the best time to apply?

Using data collected from totaljobs, Google and PageGroup in 2016, Michael Page takes a look at the best months to apply for a job in 2017, and offers some top tips for a successful search.

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Personal circumstances, career progression opportunities, a desire to travel… there are a number of things that can influence when people choose to apply for a new job, but from a recruitment perspective, when is the best time of year to start your search?

To answer this question, we took a look back at our UK job advertisement and application data from the past 12 months to map out the highs and lows of the 2016 job search. Combining it with corresponding data from totaljobs and Google, here’s what we found:

New year, new job

January 7th [1] has a reputation for being the most popular day of the year for people to look for a job, but you might be surprised to learn that our data revealed competition for jobs (the ratio of people applying for jobs to the number of advertisements) is actually at its annual lowest in January.[2] This doesn’t mean jobs aren’t available, but proportionately less people are applying.

With Google searches for ‘jobs’ at their 2016 peak in January, achieving the highest possible score of 100[3], this would suggest a case of new year window shopping where people are looking for jobs, but not necessarily applying.

According to totaljobs data however, competition levels increased from January to February by 12.5%.[4] The moral of the story? Stop browsing, start buying! Acting fast in January could pay dividends.

From happy new year to Halloween

If January isn’t the right time for you to consider a career change, there is opportunity to be had later in the year…although not too much later…

According to our data, the first half of the year has lower comparative competition rates for roles than the last half of the year. There were 14% more applications per job from July to December compared to January to June. That’s more people going up against you for that dream job if you hold off applying until the second half of the year.

Using 2016 trends to forecast ahead in 2017, we can expect competition to be at its highest in October this year – our October 2016 competition levels were 28% above the January to June average.

Totaljobs also recorded October as being the most competitive month – with the highest number of adverts posted in both October and September.

Considering that the majority of UK university students graduate in the summer months and that the 2nd to 8th October 2016 saw Google searches for ‘grad jobs’ reach peak popularity, it’s no wonder that October is a busy time for applications.

To read more about the 2016 trends, including the summer slump and impact of bonus season, head over to our blog.

Top tips for success:

In the meantime, here are three top tips from our consultants for how to go about standing out, no matter when you apply:

1. Graham Rowe, senior consultant, technology, Michael Page: “It sounds obvious but check your CV describes what you have done and what sets you apart from other applicants – rather than just writing a list of previous job descriptions or keywords that sound good.”

2. Ben Carr, operating director, procurement & supply chain, Michael Page: “It’s about you, but it’s also about the company. Do your research, and go to interviews armed with one or two questions for the interviewer so it’s not a one-way conversation.”

3. Nina Buttle, financial services consultant, Page Executive: “Be open to advice, your dream job may be something you haven’t thought of.”


[1] http://www.jobsite.co.uk/insider/today-is-the-top-day-for-a-january-job-hunt-2-40/
[2] Based on PageGroup 2016 job advertisement and application data
[3] Google Trends: Google assigns search terms a value from 0 to 100 relative to search interest at the highest point, and on the week commencing 3 January 2016, searches were at peak popularity for the year.
[4] Based on totaljobs data (job count and applications) from January 2014, 2015 and 2016

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2 Comments

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  1. Steven French Saturday, 28 Jan, 2017 at 2:32 pm

    I was paid off from a Job I had in march 2015, and although applying for all jobs that I find I am still struggling to obtain anything.

    Therefore what you say is erroneous.

  2. devon miller Sunday, 29 Jan, 2017 at 12:11 pm

    Great article Sir Watson !!!!!

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