A New Year, a New Job: Especially on Wednesday

If your organization received an unusually large number of résumés yesterday, you’re not alone. According to data from the job-search site Monster, the first Wednesday in January is the most popular day of the year to look for a job. On the first Wednesday of last year, according to the Washington Post‘s Jena McGregor, Monster saw a 70 percent jump in searches. Why Wednesday, though? It’s pretty logical timing, as McGregor explains:

Survey after survey shows that finding a new job are among many people’s priorities or even resolutions for the New Year. And by the Wednesday after that first post-vacation slump, they’re ready to take action. “People are back into their routines, back into their commutes,” said Vicki Salemi, a careers expert for Monster. “Monday and Tuesday are about getting immersed back into work, and Wednesday it’s time to exhale and say ‘okay, I’m going to do this now.’ ”

Workers seem particularly prone to new year’s job hunting this year; a CareerBuilder survey released just before the new year found that 21 percent of workers are planning to seek out greener pastures in 2016, and with robust job growth and falling unemployment, these job hunters can expect better odds of landing a new job than in previous years. Nonetheless, the Wall Street Journal‘s Lauren Weber points out that an abundance of job seekers in January makes for a hirer’s market:

[W]hile January seems like a great time to jump ship for a new position, the odds of landing a new role actually may be lower. Indeed.com sees increased competition during that month, as droves of people search and apply for work, but there isn’t a corresponding increase in job listings, according to Tara Sinclair, the site’s chief economist. ​

Indeed, a moment like the first week in January is what we call a career risk trigger: when career satisfaction levels are at a low and job search activity is high. Other examples include birthdays, career anniversaries, and large gatherings with friends or classmates—any moment that might prompt someone to think harder about the course of their career or life. Not only does the new year mark the passage of time, it directly follows the holiday season, when major gatherings are common, so it makes sense that it would be a career risk trigger as well.

What employers often fail to realize is that if these triggers can be predicted, they’re the best time to have career conversations with employees. Unfortunately, most employers still schedule these conversations around the HR calendar, rather than optimizing their timing around when employees are most likely to start checking the job boards. If you target them to your employees’ career risk triggers, on the other hand, you can make sure that when they’re thinking the hardest about their career path, they’re talking to you and not a recruiter from one of your competitors.

CEB members can read more about career risk triggers here.