As I have been going over our application tips on Graduateland over the past year, I noticed that we give a lot of tips about HOW to find the right job, but never talk about WHEN to find the right job. So, let’s try and make up for that mishap, shall we?
The idea of “timing” your search for a job might sound a bit odd to you. After all, we look for jobs or internships when we need them. That can be for various reasons such as...
- ...earning money to pay the bills during your studies.
- ...wanting to gain some relevant work experience.
- ...graduation date drawing closer and your relatives keep asking what you’re planning to do with your life after that. (Anyone looking forward to answering that question a gazillion times during the holidays?)
For you as an individual, these events may seem pretty randomly scattered through your student life, but when you look at the accumulated data across many people and countries it is actually possible to see some patterns.
The seasons of job hunting according to Google
Did you know, for example, that during the peak month January the average amount of Google searches for terms related to “internship” is between 20% and 30% higher than in November or February?
In general, online job search peaks in January - which may be because students plan ahead or due to ambitious New Year’s resolutions (just as gym membership subscriptions tend to peak in January).
This trend is quite constant across different years, languages and countries - and so are other ones: for example, searches for graduate schemes rise September through November, searches for summer internships and traineeships peak March through April, whereas students jobs are most sought after at every start of the new semester. Graduate positions and entry-level jobs maintain a constantly high search volume even throughout the otherwise lazy summer months.
Okay, great, now you know what other people look for on Google, but how does this knowledge help YOU as you’re browsing through job ads?
Going with or against the crowds?
What you know now is how job hunting is timed when you look at a larger crowd of people. The decision you now have to make is: Does is make sense to do what everybody else does or should I wait it out?
Job hunting during off season
Sometimes you can actually avoid the peaks. While students often orient their job hunting according to their university schedules (semester break, exam times, graduation), organisations and companies are governed by different timelines - and you might be able to us that to your advantage.
- Inquire about industry schedules. Most jobs have a time that is busier than others. Accounting firms have most of their work during the beginning of the year, retail and e-commerce make most of their revenue around November and December, the travel industry during the summer months. So find out when those peaks are and apply just in time when they are most likely to be in need of extra help. Use company events or career fairs to inquire about when it is companies typically need the most help in their business (by the way, the next Graduateland Virtual Career Fair is on February 8th ;)).
- Look at country holiday seasons. During a time when everyone is off work, it’s unlikely companies will have the need to hire an intern, but even during summer, these schedules vary between countries. So when you find there is a lull in your home country, consider some other destinations to get some work experience.
- Build a job pipeline. They might not advertise it, but many companies will consider applicants for internships and graduate jobs on an ongoing basis - even if they don’t have a job for you right away, you can be among those they call first if they do. Especially when you still have left a few months til graduation it makes sense to send out unsolicited applications or visit networking events before it becomes urgent.
Job hunting during peak seasons
In certain cases, you can’t completely avoid the job hunting rush hour: companies usually have set periods and deadlines when it comes to accepting applications graduate schemes or summer internships - that’s what the search volumes reflect. But even then you can do certain things to get a headstart before the masses:
- Prepare for additional application requirements. More searches for jobs always translate into more competition - prestigious summer internship programmes or graduate schemes usually receive tons of applications. The companies, in turn, add additional steps to the recruitment process to handle the load of applicants and weed out the generic applications. So, have a look at the application requirements a couple of weeks before the deadline! If your dream job requires a video application that needs to be edited and uploaded, you don’t want to find that out with 6 hours to go until the deadline.
- Update your CV and career profiles as you go. Most people start building their CV or updating their online profile only the moment they find a job posting they want to apply for. However, customising a CV or a cover letter already takes a fair bit of time and you have to do it for every job application. But you don’t have to start from scratch every single time, so remember to add info about education or language certificates that you have earned to your CV and online profiles as you go - it will save you time when push comes to shove!
Of course, good times involves an element of luck and of being at the right place at the right time, which is beyond your control. Still, as you have seen there are some measures you can take to turn the odds in your favour. Good luck!