The best time to look for a job is when you don’t need one. That probably sounds counter intuitive, but let me explain. When you need a job, you are in the worst bargaining position possible. Anytime you put yourself in a position where you can’t walk away from a deal–or where it is hard to walk away–you lose your advantage in negotiating.
I found out about a job opportunity that would have been the perfect fit for a friend of mine. I told him about it, but he didn’t want to apply because he was happy with his current job. This is they way most people think. If I like my job, why should I go to the trouble of getting my resume ready and talking to someone else? What most people (including my friend) don’t realize is that being happily employed may make you a much more attractive employee to the company looking to hire. (If you were hiring would you rather hire a qualified candidate that someone else decided they didn’t want, or one that another employer wants to keep.) It also puts you in a position where you can turn down anything except for a truly great opportunity.
And by the way, you should always have your resume ready and up today. Keep current on current trends by taking a look at resume examples and keep yours formatted in a way that doesn’t make it look like it was done last decade.
Another advantage is gaining negotiating experience. You are much better off honing your negotiating skills when failure doesn’t mean you’ll miss a mortgage payment. If you don’t have any income coming it, it probably isn’t a good time to be experimenting.