The perfect time to apply for a job is immediately when it comes available. Putting off completing your application can cost you in the long run.
As a former recruiter, when I created job postings I typically posted jobs and set the end date to a random day that I clicked in the drop down calendar. I have had candidates apply for “open” jobs long after we are in the final stages of hiring someone. Additionally, I always kept them open as a safety net in case my candidate got a counter offer, failed the screenings, or decided to not pursue the job. Make your application be at the top of the list. Don’t make the recruiter or hiring manager have to scroll to page two to see your application.
Don’t be the “backup” candidate
Keep in mind, that you can create job alerts on all of the major job posting sites. This is a great way for you to be alerted the instant that a job is posted by an employer. The recruiters have hiring metrics to meet as well. They love nothing more than to post a job, get a great applicant, and present the applicant to the hiring manager as soon as possible. Don’t be the “backup” candidate.
In general, another time to think about applying is when you see business start to slow down. It takes a lot of resources to run a company. Unfortunately the one that is controlled the easiest is labor cost. If you have been creating 500 widgets per week and your workload has consistently gone down to 300 widgets, then you can be assured layoffs are coming. It makes sense, less revenue and sales requires less workforce. It is always best to be proactive when you see things starting to slow down.
Lastly, and this is one that I recommend tongue-in-cheek, but if you are on your last write-up, your days are numbered. If you know that the next write-up will be your last, then it is time to start looking around. Once the cross heirs are on you, they rarely come off.