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When is the best time to look for a job in 2021?

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Lydia Smith
·Writer, Yahoo Finance UK
·4-min read
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Businesswoman making notes looking at a laptop computer at office. Woman entrepreneur sitting at the table writing notes while working on laptop.
January to March and September to October tend to be good times to look for a new job. Photo: Getty

If you head back to work after the Christmas break and decide you want to make a career change in the New Year, you won’t be alone.

The start of the year is when employees are most likely to think about quitting and starting somewhere new, with 17% more job applications started in the UK on Glassdoor. According to Glassdoor traffic, the busiest day for job seekers in the UK tends to be the Tuesday of the first full business week of the year.

Although COVID-19 and the economic downturn has made it more difficult for job seekers, there’s hope the coronavirus vaccine will bring some stability to the jobs market over the next year. So when is the best time to look for a new job in 2021?

“Nobody can question that the impact of COVID-19 has been significant across all areas of UK business, but how this will affect recruitment in 2021 is still open to debate,” says Lee Biggins, founder and CEO of CV-Library.

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“With a vaccine found and beginning to roll out, as lockdown measures ease and the economy recovers, it’s reasonable to expect that the sectors least affected this year will bounce back the quickest,” he adds.

“However, we must also consider the possibility that the sectors that spiked with increased demand since March, have actually already seen their peak and, whilst they’ll still recruit in 2021, this growth will level off,” Biggins says. “If the lessons of 2020 are to be learned then we should expect the unexpected, but we should also be encouraged by the signs of growth after the first lockdown and feel cautiously optimistic for the UK economy, across all sectors, over the coming year.”

As a general rule, January to March and September to October tend to be busy hiring periods. Recruiters often have renewed hiring budgets for the year and may start hiring again after a temporary pause in recruiting over the holidays.

“Whilst New Year is always prime, given what 2020 delivered and with a vaccine rolling out, businesses will be feeling more confident and the first few months of 2021 will see more job postings and this will continue to grow over the year as restrictions, hopefully, ease,” Biggins says.

However, it’s important to note that the surge in people applying for jobs may lead to a delay in replies. Recruiters may also be slower to respond in January as they return to a backlog of emails and a high number of applications.

In addition, there may be even more job seekers as a result of the large number of redundancies as a result of COVID-19 in 2020. With this in mind, it’s important to be patient.

Which industries will be hiring in 2021?

There may be fewer roles available in a limited selection of sectors because of the pandemic, but some industries are still hiring.

READ MORE: Why virtual recruitment is here to stay — and how to make it work

“With businesses forced to make huge shifts in thinking and deliver their services remotely and learning, socialising, exercising and shopping all switching online,” Biggins says.

“A spotlight on IT and digital solutions shone brighter than ever on the industry, and this will undoubtedly continue to grow as technology continues to evolve in line with demand and the UK’s new personal and business needs.”

COVID-19 also accelerated growth in distribution and demand for the home delivery of food and goods. “These habits are likely to remain, but with the majority of the increased demand already met, growth is likely to remain steady and without any further spikes,” Biggins adds.

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There has also been an increase in social care jobs and online learning resources too. “As the UK schools closed and with students exposed to the virus currently having to isolate, online education resources have become a necessity for students at every stage of the education process,” he adds. “The transition to continued online and study is almost guaranteed to grow throughout 2021 and beyond.”

Other trends that emerged in lockdown may be here to stay, too. With a greater focus on at-home entertainment, Biggins suggests there may be more jobs in online gaming, online fitness, online streaming, home improvement and gardening.