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It's the most popular time to job search—why you should look, even if you're happy where you are

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New year, new you. New job?

According to data recently analyzed by job site Monster, January and February are the most popular times for people to search for a new job.

Fortunately for job seekers, job openings also increase during the beginning of a new year, as employers embrace their newly refreshed annual budgets. Job site ZipRecruiter reports that job postings typically increase by 15% from December to January.

Because the number of job seekers spikes at the beginning of the year, the application process can become more competitive. Julia Pollak, labor economist at ZipRecruiter, previously told CNBC Make It that the key to beating the odds is to beat the crowds.

"Apply early and follow up on any emails or interviews with the company promptly," she recommends.

In recent months, the number of openings overall has grown. Most recent figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that there are roughly 7.3 million job openings in the United States and that the unemployment rate is just 3.5%.

Greg McBride, chief financial analyst at Bankrate, tells CNBC Make It that thanks to a tight labor market with low unemployment, workers have the potential to earn a significant raise by finding a new role.

"The environment is ripe to do that," he says. "There's more open, unfilled jobs than there are unemployed people."

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Bankrate recently surveyed 1,000 people and found that in 2019, 28% of workers received a raise, 12% of workers got a better paying job and 10% got both a raise and a better paying job.

McBride says he wasn't surprised that fewer than half of workers got pay raises this year, especially since companies have moved away from the practice of giving regular raises to keep wages consistent with inflation.

"What we are seeing, and we've seen this over the last several years, is that fewer and fewer employees are getting a standard cost of living raise and that increasingly, pay increases are coming in the form of performance-based raises, promotions or new job responsibilities," says McBride.

Indeed, despite a strong labor market, wage growth has been sluggish.

In 2019, inflation on all items in the Consumer Price Index rose 2.1% while wage growth remained between 3.9% and 3.4%.

Brian Kropp, vice president at research firm Gartner tells CNBC Make It that in 2018, the average increase in compensation for a worker who quit their old job for a new one was about 15%.

"You're never going to get that 15% [increase] by staying at your current job," says Kropp. "That's just not going to happen."

For this reason, now may be a good time to look for a new job, even if you are happy at your current one, and even if it requires moving to a new city.

Liz Wessell, co-founder and CEO of job site WayUp says job seekers should always have an open mind.

"Be open to different types of opportunities," she previously told CNBC Make It. "If you can be flexible on location, you should. Being in a new and somewhat unfamiliar location can also help you learn more about yourself and immerse yourself in the new role."

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