New year, new job – but is January the right time to find a new job?

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If the time off work over the holidays or your New Year’s resolutions made you think about getting a new job, then you’re not alone.

“The beginning of a new year is typically a time for reflection and making resolutions. Many people consider their career goals for the year ahead and eagerly want to set off on the right foot,” Gaelle Blake, head of permanent appointments at recruitment company Hays, told CNBC’s Make It.

Data backs this up. Forty-seven percent of U.K. employees said they were looking for a new role at the end of 2022, a survey by recruitment firm Robert Half found.

Similarly, data provided to CNBC’s Make It by jobs platform Indeed showed that job searches are higher in January and the busiest day for them often falls in the first week of the month.

At the same time, job listings tend to have a slower start to the year and increase as time goes on, Indeed’s data showed.

“Recruiter activity lags behind in the earlier weeks, before reaching a high level in late January and into February,” Indeed’s U.K. Economist Jack Kennedy told CNBC’s Make It.

But what does this mean for people trying to find a new job right now?

More competition and looming layoffs

Indeed’s data suggests that there tends to be fewer jobs available at the start of the year when more people are looking to make a professional switch.

This could have consequences for job seekers like facing tighter competition or delayed responses from potential employers.

Especially this year, there are also economic factors to consider. Over the past few months, layoffs have mounted — last week, Amazon said it would cut more than 18,000 jobs and Salesforce announced it would lay off at least 10% of its employees.

With a recession being close, or already ongoing in some countries, many companies will also be experiencing hiring freezes or be forced to cut jobs. The idea of “first in, first out” is therefore also worrying to some prospective employees.

Should job seekers hold off on their search?

However, all of this does not necessarily mean you should give up on your job search, experts argue.

“Those beginning their job search in January shouldn’t be disheartened by a slow start,” Kennedy says, adding that starting your job search early could even put you at an advantage.

“Employers and recruiters who are able to move fast may therefore be able to steal a march on competitors,” he explained.

Despite the ongoing economic uncertainty, the current situation is not entirely bleak for job seekers, Kris Harris, regional director at Robert Half believes.

“While the recession will naturally be on everyone’s minds at the moment, I wouldn’t let it put you off exploring new opportunities. This is a recession like no other where employment levels are still relatively high and demand for good employees is still strong,” he told CNBC’s Make It.

Additionally, the labor market is still recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic, and therefore there are still more jobs than job seekers in many cases, he points out.

But with the mix of the new year providing fresh motivation, a surge in job seekers and economic uncertainty, carefully considering your options and thinking about what lies ahead is key, Blake believes.

“I would recommend brainstorming what you want to get out of the year ahead career wise, and the actions that will help you get there. Consider whether you can progress in your current role, or if a change is needed,” she says.

“If the time off empowered you to change jobs, don’t ignore your intuition,” Blake concluded.  

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