Navigating The January Job Search

People everywhere look at the turning of the calendar from 2018 to 2019 as a fresh start both personally and professionally. After the holiday season and using up any remaining PTO, getting back into the swing of things at work can be a challenge; especially if you hate your job.

January is usually the most popular month for people looking to make a change in their lives (“new year, new me”). From wanting to get into the gym more to learning how to become more mindful, these resolutions span both personal and professional lives. As a result, January is also the most popular month that people look for new jobs. In 2017, reported that the top job search day of the year was Thursday, January 4. This means that less than a week into the new year, people were ready for a change of career scenery and looking for their next opportunity. Further, the top 10 busiest days of the year in terms of job searching were in January (four) and February (six).

Although the holidays might be a slow time for hiring, due to the aforementioned time off and people in and out of the office, once January rolls around the hiring flood gates open. When people get back to work after taking time to clear their heads, they often realize that they are not happy in their current roles and look to make a switch.

Since the competition during a January job search is usually pretty high, knowing how to set yourself apart from other job seekers can make a difference. In an article for The Muse, various career experts offered up some advice if you’re considering a January job search.

Mid-January Is Your Best Bet For Applying

With employees slowly trickling back into the office and re-acclimating to their daily jobs, many don’t have the time to look for and apply to jobs early in the month. Some might have used their holiday time off to apply to jobs, but if not, mid-January is likely your best bet for applying.

According to HR executive and Muse career coach Angela Smith, “Companies might be kick-starting their annual hiring plans in early January.” As we recover from the holidays and play catch up for the first few days back in the office, inboxes are likely inundated with holiday messages and unread emails. To better your chances of getting your application seen, wait until the middle of the month to apply. The hustle and bustle of getting playing catch up and getting ready for the new year will likely be already in motion so your application hopefully won’t get lost in the shuffle.

Hiring Is a Big Priority In January

January signifies the start of a new year and new quarter for businesses. As a result, companies are setting budgets, creating game plans for the upcoming year and setting new goals. This also means that companies are looking to bring on new talent to help meet those goals.

Although the new year and new hiring budgets don’t necessarily mean that there will be more jobs available, companies are usually motivated to hire and get new employees onboarded early in the year/quarter.


As mentioned, January is usually the most popular month of the year that people look for new jobs, which means there is even more competition for job openings. Those who are really motivated to start the new year with a new job likely began their search in late November/early December. The majority of people, however, likely wait until the holidays are over to begin their search. This usually isn’t the result of procrastination. Rather, many companies distribute annual bonuses at the end of the year, so employees wait to receive it so they’re not leaving any money on the table. Once they do, their search begins.

Slower Process

“New Year, New Me” isn’t limited to personal goals. Many companies also make changes at the start of the year. Smith mentions, “I’ve worked with companies that have implemented a new ATS [applicant tracking system] in the new calendar year, so they’re testing out new systems or processes.” These changes could mean a shuffling of priorities, so recruiting might take a back seat.

Not all companies are created equally. Some may have their budgets and plans in place come January 1, while others might start working on them January 1. A delay in the hiring process isn’t always a bad thing. Getting your application in early and starting the dialogue may benefit you down the road.

What To Expect

Searching for a new job in January comes with a lot of expectations. Starting the new year with a fresh slate increases the stress of the job search. While many people make new year’s resolutions, for both their personal and professional lives, it is important to remember that the job search takes time. The beginning of the year is about more than finding a new job. It also provides an opportunity to continue learning and growing in your current role.

Job searching in January should be approached just as you would a job search in the 11 other months.

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