NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Much of the secret to finding a job is simply good timing. After all, no matter how impressive your resume may be, if there are no jobs at the time, you’ll probably be out of luck. Fortunately, it’s easier than you might think to figure out when companies will be looking for candidates and when they won’t be.
“Less seasonal industries tend to be most aggressive in hiring in the first half of the year. By June, you usually start to see job openings drop off,” says Carolyn Hughes, vice president of people at SimplyHired.com, a job search engine. Typically, businesses will ramp up the number of job openings in the beginning of the year as soon as a new budget comes into effect. This lets companies tap into the predictable increase in job seekers looking to get a new start in the new year, and it also gives them more time to fill those openings sooner.
“The advantage of hiring up to your quota in the first half of the year is that you will end up with more productivity for the rest of the year,” Hughes says. Moreover, it inevitably takes longer to make hiring decisions in the second half of the year, as managers and human resources professionals stagger their vacations throughout the summer and again around the holidays in December. “Scheduling becomes impossible,” she says.
There are exceptions to this rule, most notably with seasonal industries like retail and travel where hiring is based largely on increases in demand that occur at very specific times of year. Still, hiring for these industries is easy to predict as well.
MainStreet used SimplyHired’s data on job openings to determine the best times of the year to search for work in seven major industries including health care, financial services and nonprofits. The data is based on job listings on the site in each month of 2011. It’s important to note that the data show the number of job openings posted each month rather than the number of applicants who were hired. Generally speaking, the hiring process takes one to three months, suggesting that the peak hiring time would be roughly a couple of months later than the period with the greatest number of openings.
To be sure, there are unpredictable economic factors that could have an impact on the labor market, but according to Jennie Dede, vice president of recruiting at Adecco Staffing US, “What’s impacted by the labor market is the number of jobs, the timeline doesn’t change too much.”
With that in mind, here’s when you can expect to see the most jobs pop up in your industry this year.
Best Time to Look for Education Jobs: April-May
Education hiring is based largely on the school year. As Hughes points out, schools tend to ramp up their hiring in late spring so they have enough time to vet and train applications before the end of the summer when the school year starts up again. Indeed, that’s why you see such a big drop-off in job postings in September, as the positions have all been filled.
The number of positions tends to increase at the end of the calendar year and the beginning of the next, which Hughes says may be due to a combination of turnover in administrative and teaching positions, as well as “natural recruiting trends,” which lead schools to try and attract employees interested in making a career change in the new year.
Best Time to Look for Nonprofit Jobs: December
The nonprofit world operates a little differently than most industries due to tight and often uncertain budgets.
“Most business are on cyclical budget cycles, but with a nonprofit, you are forced to wait and see. They must wait until the end of the year to see what money they got from donations,” Dede says.
That’s why you see such a spike in hiring at the very end of the year. As Dede puts it, “Hiring comes last at nonprofits.”
Best Time to Look for Retail Jobs: November
As one might expect, the number of job openings in the retail industry tends to hit its peak in the fall so that stores have enough time to process candidates before the holiday season kicks off when demand is at its highest. Ultimately, there were more job openings in November last year than any other month, which has become the new normal for the industry.
“What we saw in 2011 is that companies actually hired slightly later than usual as they tried to see what they could do with their current staff before adding head count,” Dede says. “I would expect that to be true this year as well.”
Best Time to Look for Construction Jobs: May
The construction industry shares at least one thing in common with the travel industry: Both are beholden to the weather.
“What we see with construction is that there is a warm-weather spike,” Hughes says, referring to the fact that April and May are the two months with the highest number of job openings. “Summer is a time when people will take on more building and remodeling projects.”
Best Time to Look for Financial Services Jobs: April
Financial services is the classic example of a non-seasonal industry.
“The strongest recruiting periods are in the first and second quarter,” Hughes says, noting that the number of postings taper off once summer starts and hiring managers start taking vacations. Then, postings do pick up once more at the end of summer as companies prepare to do one last bout of hiring before the end of the year.
So if you haven’t found work in this industry before the summer, take heart: You may still have your pick of jobs in August. Just don’t wait too much longer than that to blast your resume out there.
Best Time to Look for Hospitality Jobs: October-November
Hospitality, like retail, is a seasonal industry whose hiring is based on the cyclical demands of consumers. For that reason, Dede says you usually see the biggest spikes at the tail end of spring and fall as travel companies ramp up their hiring for the summer and the winter holidays.
So if you really want the greatest selection of jobs in this industry, your best bet is to focus your job hunt in either March and April, or October and November.
Best Time to Look for Health Care Jobs: Anytime
The health care industry is the bright spot in an otherwise struggling labor market and for that reason, the usual rules may not apply.
“Health care is one of the hottest industries, so cyclical trends tend to be much less apparent,” Hughes says. Instead what we see is that the number of job openings is on a continual upward trend – regardless of the time of year – because there are so many positions that need to be filled.
“I would expect it to stay high through 2012,” Hughes says.
Seth Fiegerman is a staff reporter for MainStreet. You can reach him by email at Seth.Fiegerman@thestreet.com, or follow him on Twitter @sfiegerman.