If your New Year’s resolution is to find a job, you’re not alone.
January is the busiest month of the year for such searches at many employment sites and staffing firms, but resolutions are only part of it.
Companies often post job openings in January when new budgets go into effect and initiatives are launched and positions created. Bonuses are frequently awarded at the end of the year, and some employees may choose to ride out a job until they can collect. Organizations also tend to restructure and eliminate positions at the end of the year, leading more people to start searching in January.
And never underestimate the power of a spouse who is sick of hearing about a partner’s lousy job, noted Phil Nachman, a biomedical recruiter in Belmont: “You’ve been complaining all year. Do something about it.”
For many workers and hiring managers, the January surge is simply a matter of putting off job-search activity until after the holidays.
“A lot of the hiring process goes on hold at the end of December,” said Patrick Gareau, director of permanent services for the staffing firm Robert Half’s technology division in Boston – and then everything ramps up in January. “It’s almost like a month and a half of hiring jammed into one month.”
One 33-year-old job seeker, the office manager for Playboy Enterprises in New York who is relocating to the Boston area, didn’t find much when she started looking in late November. But she admits she wasn’t looking that hard: Playboy shuts down for two weeks at the end of the year, and she wanted to stick around to take advantage of the paid vacation time.
The wait paid off. The woman, who asked not to be identified in order to keep her job search private, relaunched her efforts last week and has already applied for four positions. “I feel like a lot of things have opened up just in the last couple days,” she said.
More than a third of workers regularly search for new jobs, according to the site CareerBuilder, and the hiring outlook is better than it’s been in a decade, with 40 percent of employers planning to hire full-time workers in the next year.
Nine of the top 10 job search days in 2016 were in January, according to Monster, the Weston-based jobs site. And for the past four years, the busiest day of the year for Monster job searches has been a Wednesday in January.
“Mondays people are back from the weekend and they’re immersed in their work,” said Vicki Salemi, a Monster career expert. “But Wednesday, you’re in the groove of the week’s flow and the upcoming weekend is a stark reminder you’re still not reaching the full potential in your career.”
That said, Salemi does not recommend looking for a new job at work.
But this is definitely a good month to make a move. The rate of new hires soars in January, when nearly 15 percent of hiring is done, almost double the monthly average, according to LinkedIn.
The beginning of the year is also a time when people tend to take stock of their lives — and their careers, noted Bruce Allen, a recruiter with Point B Search who recently moved to San Diego but still works with Boston-area clients.
And with the Massachusetts unemployment rate at 2.9 percent, the lowest level in almost 16 years, that introspection is more likely to yield more money. Technology workers are getting 10-15 percent raises when they change jobs, compared to 6-8 percent a year ago, and every candidate is getting two or three offers, according to the staffing firm Robert Half’s technology division.
“It’s almost like they’re interviewing companies right now instead of the other way around,” said Boston branch manager Greg Bigelow.
One job-seeker, a marketing executive in his early 50s, decided that after six years working at a software company outside Boston, it was time to move on. He didn’t want to leave before his bonus came through, so he sent out a few networking e-mails before the holidays and met a colleague for a drink to “plant a seed,” then started his job search in earnest this month.
The job-seeker, who did not want to be identified, is optimistic about the opportunities he’s seeing. But he admits being cautious about signing on with a startup because of the uncertainty surrounding President-elect Donald Trump and the effect his actions could have on the economy.
“None of us really know what the new administration with Trump will bring,” he said. “That’s a little bit of a wild card.”
Other candidates are seeing more opportunity now that the presidential race has been decided.
“The ambiguity that even the Wall Street guys had over which way things were going to go is gone,” said Andrew H. Shepard, 50, of Winchester, who works in strategic marketing and recently intensified his job search, launching a personal website, talking to recruiters, and writing posts on LinkedIn. “Since the election and the end of the year, there feels like increased optimism within the marketplace.”Katie Johnston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @ktkjohnston.