Why do so many people leave their jobs in January?

Mandy Watson, Managing Director of Ambitions Personnel.

One-in-five people look for a new job in the New Year, which is 20 per cent of the workforce moving if you’re seeking to recruit. There is a massive proportion of people vying for new roles and it is often the time when businesses advertise their open positions. 

January is the best month to look for a job, however, it’s a ‘chicken and egg’ situation; which came first the job seeker or the employer? Some employers recognise that the talent market is buoyed in the early weeks of the New Year by some people who are motivated by resolutions to change their current roles. Other job seekers are aware that employers often leave hiring until the latter stages of Q4 and start with renewed budgets in January. This means that there is a huge increase in available roles. 

For recruiters, the first working Monday of the new year is dubbed ‘Massive Monday’ – the most popular day of the year to look for a new job, with job boards such as Indeed and Reed reporting increases in traffic of over 70 per cent compared to other times of the year. Reed revealed in 2018 that over one million job applications were made in the first week of January alone. December, by comparison, is a notoriously quiet month in the world of recruitment. 

Why? Employees tend to ‘hang on’ to their current roles in December as that’s when a lot of companies start handing out Christmas bonuses and the work atmosphere tends to be a bit more relaxed. Come the first week back in January, a lot of those employees start looking elsewhere for better opportunities. The grass is always greener on the other side, but only if you bother to look. That’s why a lot of people upload their CVs on the first working Monday of the year. 

Similar to ‘Massive Monday’, the third Monday of January has earned the title of ‘Blue Monday’ – the most miserable day of the year. A combination of the weather and time since Christmas mixed with low motivation levels and the feeling of a need to take action all directly influence people’s decision to look for a new job. Added with the fact that a majority of people haven’t been paid since the middle of December and credit card bills are due, it becomes a major catalyst for deciding it’s time to move on. Both Monday’s bring a massive spike in the number of people seeking new opportunities. 

For many, a new year is seen as an opportunity to make a change; perhaps given the time to reflect over a festive break, they then approach January with a renewed enthusiasm to hunt out a new and exciting job role or career change. It’s an incredibly busy month for recruiters, and businesses should undoubtedly be looking to make the most of it while it lasts. 

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