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How Early To Apply For Jobs?

The Job Market is a difficult area to look at and make accurate predictions about. It is not an exact science at all. When looking at how early to apply for jobs, there are so many variables, and to cover them all would take a booklet rather than an article.

Just to use some of these variables, which one applies to you?

  • Are you an Undergraduate in your Final year?
  • Are you leaving College or school in the next year?
  • Are you looking for a first job or a move into management?
  • Do you want a change of job or just a change of company?
  • Have you been out of work for a while for whatever reason?

These are all situations that face a variety of people at different levels of employment and stages of life. And there is no simple answer to the question that will apply to all of them.

But I could take it a bit further:

  • Are you planning on moving to another City or State?
  • Are you thinking of working Overseas?

How early is it to start applying for jobs? Well, it rather depends on your circumstances. But let’s address each of the variables briefly.

how early to apply for jobs

An Undergraduate In Your Final Year

As you approach your final year, I would hope that you have some idea of what you want to do. And certainly, if not exactly which industry you want to work in. A high percentage of students enter university not exactly sure what they want to do or when they leave. They just know they need to get a degree. That’s ok, but now you are entering your final year. Time to get serious.

Take a look around

Do a bit of research and identify companies that fit the bill of what you’re looking for, and start writing those important first letters. Maybe your institution has given you an expected grade. You can include that in your letters to prospective employers.

Twelve months is not too early

Twelve months in advance is not too long a time to make a start. There could be two or three interviews involved. Many companies tend to interview their graduate intake at set times of the year. It might be worthwhile finding out when that is for the companies you are interested in. And then making sure your letter is in on time.

how early to apply for a job

Leaving College Or School

Are you leaving college or school at the end of the academic year? I would hope you have a good idea of what you want to do in your first career steps.

If you are leaving at the end of a college course, you will be leaving with some form of qualification. That might also apply to someone leaving school. The interview requirements will be different than they will be for graduates and probably not spread over months. Possibly one or two will be what is required.

Three to four months

I would recommend about 3-4 months before the academic year ends. Companies recognize there will be many potential employees on the market at that time. They will usually have planned their intake, if any. Sending your application letter three to four months ahead is certainly not too early.

A First Job Or Move Into Management

This area falls into two distinct situations. Some graduates leaving university with good degrees might go straight into lower management. I think I have already covered that in terms of time frames.

However, are you working and just not getting a promotion into lower management? This is a position that doesn’t require a time frame for an application. You apply and then see what transpires over the next weeks or months.

No need to have a time plan

There is no mad panic, presumably as you are working, and so there doesn’t need to be a time plan. You can take your time and make some applications to companies that are of interest to you.

A Change Of Job Or Company

Once again, what applies in the previous section applies here. You may not be looking to secure a promotion, just a change of job or a change of working environment. Applications can be made as and when you are ready with presumably no formal deadline to work towards.

Out Of Work For A While For Whatever Reason

Here we have a situation that requires some urgent and concentrated effort. Whatever the reason you are out of work, you need to be active to find a new job. In this instance, there is no need to set timeframes. It is an ASAP situation.

Those are the basic situations where when you apply is important. But what about other scenarios when the timing of the application is important.

Moving To Another City Or State?

This is a little more complex as there may be other issues involved. If you are going to apply for a job in another city or a State that is not traveling distance, there are things to organize. The timing of everything becomes more critical.

  • Are you selling a house?
  • Are their children’s schools involved?

Those are just two before you even start. You will need to make preparations, and it is unlikely that everything will just fall into place. But the job is the most important one in many ways. If you have decided to move, I would start to apply for jobs at least six months in advance. That is six months before a planned date when you would like to relocate.

how early to apply for job

Employers can be accommodating

It is likely that if you have skills that a new company elsewhere needs, they will be helpful in many ways. But getting that position takes priority. Applying six months ahead of time would include a couple of interview trips. But six months would be a minimum.

Going To Work Overseas?

I have been down this road, and it’s stressful, to say the least. When to apply will, in some ways, be determined by whether you are moving to an English-speaking country. But even if you are, I would start your applications about 18 months ahead of time. It could take you three to four months to even get an initial reply. And after that, things might still move quite slowly.

Never Too Early

What you can say about the timing of a Job Application is that it is never too early. But it can be too late. And if you can take your time, then that is a big plus.

Some other things to consider that might influence your timing decisions are these:

  • How in demand will the skills be you have to offer? Will employers want to snap you up quickly?
  • What is the economic position at the time?

The Timing

You have to accept that getting the timing for applying for jobs exactly right is probably not possible. Some companies will wait for you, some won’t, even for a short time. In some cases, the interview procedure will take months. In other cases, it could be quite quick.

But if you have some fixed time frames to try and achieve, like post-graduation, then give yourself plenty of time. If you are working, then it becomes less of a pressure.

When the Time Comes, Make it Happen

Be prepared to give it plenty of effort. You might feel like you have plenty of time, but time can pass very quickly. Focus on what you are doing to get the ball rolling. And then, when circumstances arise, give it your full attention.

“Never think it will just happen, it won’t. You have to make it happen”.

When you reach the interview stage, there are some things you might need to enforce your application. For example, a quality briefcase, such as the Tassia Luxury Leather Executive Case Attache Briefcase, always gives a good impression. As does a nice pen if you need to sign something, I recommend the excellent and affordable Parker IM Fountain Pen.

And don’t arrive at an interview after having been caught in a shower; the Lilyxin Premium Automatic Compact Umbrella Windproof is well worth the investment.

Looking For More Application Info And Advice?

Well, it’s always good to start with an immaculate resume. So, check out my advice on How To Write A Letter Of Interest, the Most Important Skills To Put On A Resume, what Work Experience On A Resume, How To Write An Introduction Letter, and How To List Education On A Resume.

Or you can do some online shopping with the Resume Writing: 10 Ridiculously Simple Tips, How to Write an Amazing IT Resume, Optimize Your Resume: DOs and DON’Ts the SamNova Way, the Resume Formats book, Land Your Dream Job: Join the 2% Who Make it Past Resumé Screening, the Resume Format Guide, as well as the English for Academic CVs, Resumes, and Online Profiles available in 2021.

Now that you got the interview, you’ll want to take a look at how to Answer Why Best Candidate Position, Why Do You Want To Work Here, What Is Your Greatest Accomplishment, How Do you Handle Stress, What Makes You Unique, and How To Answer What Is Your Greatest Strength.

Or maybe even read up on Get That Job!: The Quick and Complete Guide to a Winning Interview, or the How to Answer Interview Questions: 101 Tough Interview Questions currently available online.

Final Thoughts

To be honest, the best approach is that it is better too early than too late. Therefore don’t be afraid to start the ball rolling well in advance of when you think you might need your new job.

Lastly, always remember to be polite and professional at all times. You only get one chance to make a first impression with your hiring managers. So, make it count!

All the very best with our Applications!

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About Carmen Smith

Carmen grew up in San Diago but now lives in Boston. She loves traveling, experiencing other cultures, and basically exploring the world, be country at a time.

Her other passion is helping people find the perfect career. We spend 33% of our working lives at work, so it's ridiculous that many people do jobs that they do not enjoy. Carmen wants to change this and thinks that anyone who isn't happy in their employment should keep looking until they find something that they really enjoy. 

She firmly believes that "Everyone's perfect job is out there; it's just a case of continually looking until you find it."

Carmen lives with her husband Johnny, a keen birder who also loves to travel. He finds birds while Carmen makes plans for where they will be eating next...

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