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“I am considering a new career challenge, but when is the best time to change jobs?” This is a question that many job seekers find themselves pondering. Deciding whether to target a period of increased job openings, wait until after bonuses are distributed, or choose a time when work has settled down can be a challenging aspect of initiating a career change.
This article will help you find the right time to make a career change for you. We delve into recruitment schedules and offer insights from a recruiter to assist you in identifying the perfect timing for your job switch.
Understanding the Yearly Schedule and Hiring Timing
The annual schedule and timing of corporate hiring varies between Japanese and foreign-affiliated companies, as well as by industry. However, in order to find the right time to change jobs, it is important to first familiarize yourself with the general yearly hiring schedule of companies.
- January - March: Active Hiring with the New Year
Although January experiences less activity due to the holiday season, February and March mark the commencement of robust job openings based on new fiscal year plans. Additionally, around this time, job listings emerge to fill the vacancies left by employees who departed at the year's end. This is a favorable window for mid-career job seekers, but it's also a period of heightened competition due to concentrated application numbers.
- April - May: Mid-Career Hiring Slows, Opportunities for New Graduates
April witnesses limited activity, as budgets for the new fiscal year remain pending. HR departments predominantly focus on new graduate hiring during this period, resulting in slower mid-career hiring. However, this can be an advantageous time for those with limited work experience, as Japanese companies sometimes establish hiring quotas for second-round new graduates. While the hiring process tends to be slower in May due to the Golden Week vacations, there are fewer job seekers and less competition, and you can take advantage of the long vacation period to prepare for your job search.
- June - July: Post-Bonus Staffing Surge
June and July often see an influx of job switches following the distribution of summer bonuses and early exits by new hires. As a result, many companies hire new staff during this period. If planning to change jobs post-bonus, strategize to complete your job search by this time.
- August - September: Increased Hiring for the Second Half of the Year
August experiences a recruitment slowdown due to the Obon holiday, but October marks the resurgence of active hiring as companies advertise positions based on second-half business strategies. This presents numerous opportunities for mid-career job seekers.
- October - December: Potential Job Openings to Bolster Staffing
Although October to December exhibits slower hiring compared to August-September, it's still a period when job openings increase to bolster staffing based on new second-half business plans. If targeting a job change after the winter bonus, plan your search to conclude by this time. Towards year-end, the hiring process slows down due to holidays.
This summarizes a typical company's annual schedule. However, the fiscal year varies by company and industry, influencing hiring trends. Therefore, when contemplating a career change, we suggest gathering information about your desired company and industry's yearly schedule to make an informed decision.
While establishing a guideline schedule is beneficial, IT consulting recruiter @Hikari Asano advises against being "overly fixated on timing". Instead, she encourages a proactive approach as below.
- Industries with High Demand Maintain Year-Round Hiring
Industries in high demand, such as IT and digital sectors, continuously seek talent year-round. So, focus on staying informed about openings and demand for your skills, rather than being rigid about timing. However, the timing of hiring varies slightly depending on the company and department, so it is important to exchange information with recruiters and other professionals who are familiar with the industry in order to determine the best timing.
- Regularly Check Job Listings and Apply Proactively
Job postings are updated on a daily basis. Therefore, we recommend that you regularly check job openings through job search websites and recruitment agencies. When you find a position that suits you, do not hesitate to actively apply for it. Although there are busy and quiet periods throughout the year, it is not uncommon to find a job with good conditions at an unexpected time when a company has a sudden vacancy to fill. Even if you are not thinking of changing jobs right away, it is a good idea to look through job openings regularly and apply for any that interest you, in order to ascertain your market value.
- Strategically Engage with Recruiters, Even in the Absence of Open Positions
Leveraging recruitment agencies can facilitate a smoother job search. Collaborating with recruiters can boost your level of readiness, as they provide insights into the job market, industry trends, and specific company needs. In some cases, recruiters can even negotiate for new positions not initially available, particularly for candidates with high-demand skills. Establishing a rapport with recruiters who have close relationships within companies is crucial for conveying your preferences and enthusiasm.
- Continuously Enhance Your Skills and Craft a Compelling CV
Regardless of the timing of your job change, the key is to clarify and refine your skills and accomplishments on a regular basis and have an attractive resume and CV ready in order to apply as soon as you find a position that suits you. Make an effort to organize your achievements and improve your skills on a regular basis, while being aware of the skills and expertise that are in high demand in the market.
In determining the best time to change jobs, it is important to be aware of company hiring trends. On the other hand, it is also important to be prepared so that you can begin your job search at any time, regardless of timing. Reach out to a recruiter and actively check job postings on a daily basis to realize a job search that maximizes your value.