When is the best time to search for a new job?

Written by: G2 Legal
Published on: 23 Oct 2017

Alongside moving house and raising a family, changing jobs is considered one of the most stressful events in one’s life. As such, people frequently stay in jobs simply to maintain a feeling of stability, regardless of how unhappy they might be or the prospects elsewhere.

Should I be looking for a new job?

If you have qualms with your current role or employer but overall you are happy in your role, the best course of action in the first instance is always to highlight these and try to remedy them before you start job searching. If you’re looking for a pay rise or a promotion – ask. If you’re looking to do something a bit different than your current role and your company might be able to offer this – ask.

All too often, people go through lengthy interview processes and secure an offer, to then be counter-offered by their current employer. If your employer values you and you deserve an uplift, they will more than likely offer you this before you threaten to leave. Whilst flattering at first, only a very small percentage of those that accept a counter-offer stay longer than 6 months after receiving one from their current employer. Don’t waste your time and effort in searching for a new job (or that of any potential future employer), before having a frank discussion with your current manager.

That said, while you may be happy in your current role there may be opportunities that will allow you to progress your career further; exploring options and learning more about the market is always beneficial. I would always recommend speaking with a specialist recruitment consultant who knows their market well. After all, you have no obligation to leave your current employer or even apply /interview for roles just because you’ve put feelers out.

What time of year should I search for a job?

There is no hard and fast rule on the best time to search for a job, as it’s difficult to forecast people leaving and influxes of work leading to expansion.

However, from the date you decide to start looking to the date you get your offer on average takes around 2-3 months. It’s a lengthy, time-consuming process and it can be very frustrating if it gets to the point where you’re desperate to make a move. Desperation to find a new role ASAP does often show during the hiring process and interview nerves are often intensified. I would also always recommend finding a new role before you hand your notice in at your current employer, wherever possible.

If you feel things are starting to go sour with your current employer, try to consider your options before it gets to the point where it’s making life miserable.

The start of the year is a very popular time to consider making a move and recruitment consultants certainly feel the New Year resolution rush, and as such there’s plenty of competition for roles at this time.

Lots of companies will have fresh hiring budgets (although some annual budgets will start in April or September), and a few weeks into January will usually have the least amount of people on holiday, allowing for a smooth hiring process.  

As notice periods can be lengthy (for example, the average for a solicitor is 3 months), if you think you’ll have a ‘new year, new me’ moment, it’s worth applying in lateNovember or early December so that you’re ahead of the curve.

Companies will keep your CV on file for 6-12 months, so they’ll have your details immediately when someone hands in their notice and then may not even have to advertise the job if they have a strong selection of CVs to choose from already.

Spring is also a good time to consider making a move, as some companies’ annual budgets will start in April. As summer nears, partners/decision makers will often have holidays booked, so there will be more pressure to get someone on board before they go away during this time.

During summer recruitment often slows down. Decision makers will push to get someone on board before they go away to ensure there is adequate cover, and may not be around to interview/decide on new hires.

That said, people are often happier at work during summer and there are also less applicants. People leave their jobs all year round, so there will still be options to consider during this time and you may face slightly less competition.  

Autumn is a fantastic time to look for a job. Decision makers are back from holiday, certain companies’ annual budgets will refresh, and the hiring process usually runs smoothly. If you have a 3 months’ notice period, you’ll benefit from starting your new role at the start of the next year, and if your notice period is shorter, you’ll benefit from joining your company ahead of the festive period – a great time for training and mingling with new colleagues.

As mentioned, the months of November and December offer the chance to get ahead of the competition you’ll face due to the New Year resolution rush. However, recruitment will always slow down during the Christmas period late December, due to holidays and financial stability often needed during this time.

Speculative approaches year round

We are now seeing lots of hires being made from speculative approaches. If you’re working with a recruitment consultant they will be able to discuss firms that will be a good fit for you, once they have your CV and have discussed your aspirations moving forward.

You don’t have to wait for a live role to arise to apply to a firm; utilise your recruitment consultant’s knowledge and contacts. No live role being advertised = definitely less competition.

Furthermore, lots of firms do not even advertise their live opportunities, but recruitment consultants on their PSL (preferred suppliers’ list) will be aware of them and will be able to discuss these with you.

How do I know it's the right job move for me?

Changing jobs will always come with a certain level of risk. The best thing you can do is appropriately weigh up your options, and this is where a trusted, specialist recruitment consultant really comes in handy. Good recruitment consultants will have an excellent understanding of the market and will be able to give you inside information on companies that you may not be able to find anywhere online - remember, we listen to people’s reasons for leaving their current employer!

One final point to make is to ensure you take holiday into account and apply at the right time. If you’re going away on holiday or you don’t have any holiday days left to ensure you’re able to attend interviews, it’s probably not the right time to apply for jobs. After all, you want the process to run as smoothly and as stress-free as possible!


If you would like to have a confidential discussion about your job search in the legal sector please contact Annabel Corcoran at G2 Legal.

 T: 0207 649 9296, E: annabel.corcoran@g2legal.com

G2 Legal is a national and international legal recruitment company. We cover a broad range of legal roles to include both qualified and support staff.

For more information and to view all of our current vacancies, please visit us athttp://g2legal.com/