New Year, New Job? Why People Look For New Jobs In January

The festive cheer fades and it is time to get back to work… but for many, it is also a time to look for a change in job, or even career. But the desire for change isn’t always just the post-holiday blues it’s a phenomenon with its roots firmly planted in the calendar and our psychology.

As it turns out, January is prime time for job hunting, and there’s a fascinating science behind why…

Temporal Landmarks and Fresh Starts

Just like the first page of a brand new calendar, January signifies a fresh start in our brain. It’s called a temporal landmark, a psychological checkpoint where we naturally introspect and evaluate our lives. As the past year fades, it often leaves behind lessons learned and perhaps unfulfilled aspirations. Suddenly, it’s our desire to lose some weight and hit the gym, or maybe our job is glaringly out of place in the new future we envision.

A temporal landmark is like a signpost in the flow of time, a distinct moment or event that stands out from the usual routine. Think of it as a mental checkpoint that helps us organise our memories and experiences, dividing them into different periods – a before and after. These landmarks can be big or small, personal or public, but they all share the ability to shape how we perceive and interact with time.

Here are some common types of temporal landmarks:

  • Social timetables – These are the recurring markers in our everyday lives, like the start of a new week, month, year, or semester. Think of the feeling of a Monday morning, the anticipation of a New Year’s Eve countdown, or the weekend feeling.
  • Momentous life events – These are the personal milestones that mark significant changes and transitions, like birthdays, weddings, graduations, or the start of a new job or relationship. These landmarks often trigger reflection and a sense of renewal, prompting us to look back on what we’ve achieved and look forward to what’s to come.

Science tells us one of the most notable temporal landmarks is the start of a new year.

The Science of Resolution

Our New Year’s resolutions play a pivotal role too – although 43% of people abandon their resolutions by the end of January and just 8% remain on track at the end of the year! Resolutions are generally fuelled by a mix of hope and regret, a desire to shed the past and embrace new possibilities. Whether this is sticking to ‘dry January’ or hitting the gym, resolutions are formed by the same science.

For some, their resolution aligns with a desire to move to a new career, embrace an opportunity or look to seek promotion or another change of their working lives.

Increased Hiring Activity

As a result, it may come as no surprise that January is a busy time for recruiters, executive search firms and businesses. Annual budgets are often allocated in the new year (or in the first quarter), hiring plans are drawn up, and new starters enter the workforce. This confluence of factors creates a vibrant job market, offering job seekers a wider range of opportunities.

This is a screenshot from Google Trends showing the spike in interest in “new jobs” in the first couple of days of January 2024. The Google search interest increases by 100%!

The Psychological Boost

The New Year buzz isn’t just metaphorical; it has a real impact on our brains. Studies have shown that January triggers a temporary increase in optimism and self-efficacy. We’re more likely to set ambitious goals and believe in our ability to achieve them. This heightened confidence translates into a bolder approach to job hunting, making us more proactive and persistent in our search.

Of course, January isn’t the only time to embark on a career change. But there’s no denying the unique confluence of temporal, psychological, and practical factors that make it a prime time for job hunting.

Ready to polish your CV and hit the ground running? Here are some bonus tips for your January job hunt:

  • Leverage the increased optimism: Channel your New Year’s confidence into crafting a compelling application for a new role, or taking that entrepreneurial leap.
  • Research company hiring plans: Identify businesses actively recruiting in your field and tailor your approach accordingly.
  • Network, network, network: Attend industry events, connect with alumni, and utilise online platforms to expand your reach.
  • Stay organised and persistent: The January job market can be competitive, so stay focused and maintain momentum throughout your search.
  • Be prepared: Follow our top interview tips to get prepared.
  • Make a considered decision: It’s also important to make sure that you’re making a job change for the right reasons. If you’re only unhappy with your current job because of the post-holiday blues, you may want to wait until you’ve had a chance to adjust back to work before making any major decisions!
CJPI Insights

This post has been published by the CJPI Insights Editorial Team, compiling the best insights and research from our experts.

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