Advancing

The Art of Timing Your Job Application

right time

Wondering if there is an ideal time to send in that job application?

There’s no hard-and fast rule to help you game the system. While many companies do wait until the new budget year to add to their payroll, your target employer may not follow that pattern. Figuring out its unique situation will help you send your application at the ideal time. Here are some tips.

Do some data analysis. Most job seekers won’t take time to study hiring patterns at a particular firm, so taking an hour to do this will give you an edge.

  • Search for profiles of people who work at your target firm on LinkedIn. Make a list of the 12 months of the year, and, as you go through the profiles, check off the months they joined. Stick to hires in the past three or four years, to keep the information current—and if the company is large, narrow the list to people with your title or in your target department. What months did the greatest numbers join the company? That may give you a hint as to when the company tends to hire for positions like the one you’d like to win.
  • To weed out hiring anomalies, you need to do some homework on the company’s history to find out when key milestones, like an acquisition, took place. It’s possible that a wave of people joined the company after an event like this, which won’t help you predict future hiring patterns.

Look behind the headlines. Setting up a Google alert with your target employer’s name will keep you abreast of key milestones that may trigger hiring. If the company has just won a big corporate account, or opened a new division, it may need to staff up now. At an entrepreneurial company, a new round of venture capital funding often triggers an immediate hiring wave. If you’re applying for a senior level position, monitor local business journals and trade publications for announcements of promotions. When someone at your level of experience has moved up, there may be an opening.

Cultivate an inside source.  If a contact at a target company has told you about a job, don’t be shy about asking for advice on when to submit your application. An internal supporter will tell you things that HR won’t—like the fact that department has been so busy this month that even the temps it has brought in are working overtime, or that a hiring manager has canceled a holiday vacation to get a position filled.

Of course, timing isn’t everything. Even if a company usually hires in the first quarter, finding an inside supporter to put in a good word with the hiring manager may trump any efforts you make to time your application.

About the Author

Elaine Pofeldt is an independent journalist who specializes in writing about entrepreneurship and careers. She was a senior editor for Fortune Small Business magazine, and her work has appeared in Fortune, Money, Forbes.com, Inc. and Crain's New York Business, among others.