Finding a Job

When Should I Start Applying for Jobs? (FAQ Guide)

February 22, 2021

When you apply for jobs can impact how likely you are to get your resume in front of a hiring manager and secure an interview. Some industries can take longer to interview and hire employees while other industries are quick to fill open positions. Additionally, whether you are planning a big move or lining up a new job after your graduation, identifying the best time to apply for a job can increase your chances of being hired. In this article, we discuss when to start applying for jobs at any stage of your career.

How early should I start my job search?

Depending on your unique circumstances, two to three months is an adequate time frame to line up a job before you need it. Sometimes the hiring and interviewing processes can take a few weeks to a few months, but applying for jobs several months in advance can ensure enough time for your job transition.

Read more: When To Start Applying for a Job

Can I apply for a job six months in advance?

There are some circumstances when a six-month timeline is necessary for your job search, and these can include:


If you are planning to move but are staying within your current state, it can be beneficial to start your search five or six months in advance. Approach your job search in this case by explaining to potential employers that you are relocating and have a specific date in mind for when you can start a new job. Some employers can even help you make the transition by setting your start date according to your moving timeline.


If you are close to your college graduation date, it can be appropriate to start lining up job prospects up to six months in advance. In some cases, employers who seek college graduates for entry-level roles may be willing to work flexibly with your anticipated graduation date so you have enough time to finish school and develop your skills for your career.

Additionally, starting your search six months prior to your graduation can ensure you have plenty of time to submit your resume to multiple jobs, speak with employers and attend job interviews.

Career change

If you are getting ready to make a career transition into a different industry, start searching for prospective jobs six months in advance to narrow down your job search to positions you're interested in and qualified for. This amount of time also enables you to complete the interviewing and hiring processes so you can make your transition without any gaps on your resume.

Additionally, you can use the time during your search to expand your professional networks, develop new skills and learn more about the role you want to take on when you make your transition.

Related: 3 Habits That Could Increase Your Chances of Getting a Job

When should I start applying for jobs if I'm moving to a different state?

If you are planning a bigger move, whether across the state or across the country, there are several factors to consider when it comes to the right timeline for applying to jobs:

  • Economic status
  • Level of position
  • Cost of living
  • Financial standing
  • Job industry

Economic status

If you are moving out-of-state, the economics of the city and state you move to can have an impact on the job availability in your new location. For instance, there can be differences in the economic demand between locations, where one location has many available jobs and another seems to have very few. Because of this factor, it can be a good idea to start your search anywhere from four to six months in advance.

Level of position

If you are applying for entry-level positions, you may be able to start applying in as little as two or three months before your desired start date. This is because many entry-level jobs typically move through the hiring process more quickly than senior-level roles. Mid- and senior-level positions usually take longer to fill, often due to employers looking for the most qualified candidates. In the case of these higher-level positions, you may need up to six months to find a job before your planned moving date.

Cost of living

Utility expenses, housing costs and the costs of basic necessities like groceries can differ a lot between different states, and you may even find that your new location comes with different sales and income tax rates. Start your search at least five to six months before your moving date so you have a job lined up when you relocate. This way, you have a steady flow of income to cover the differences in living costs between areas.

Job industry

The timeline for your job search can depend on the industry you work in, too. For instance, if you work in the technology industry, the hiring process can be longer than other industries, especially for senior-level positions. The healthcare industry may hire qualified healthcare professionals as quickly as possible to fill open positions. In most cases, three to four months is an appropriate timeline to conduct your search.

When should I apply to jobs if I'm in graduate school?

Typically, four to six months in advance is enough time to search and apply for jobs so you have a position lined up for after your graduation. For instance, start your search in the fall or at least six months before your graduation date if you're graduating in the spring or summer of the following year. Similarly, begin your search in spring or early summer if you are planning to graduate in the fall or winter of the same year.

This way you have time to complete the hiring process while you are still in school so you are able to start your new career right away after you graduate.

Related: The New Graduate's Guide To Job Search

How far in advance should I apply for seasonal jobs?

Consider the following timelines for applying for seasonal jobs, no matter the industry you're interested in:

Industry-specific jobs

Many industries employ seasonal workers, including the retail, tax accounting, agricultural and hospitality industries. The retail industry, for instance, can have multiple peak seasons, including early fall for back-to-school and during the holidays in winter.

Additionally, seasonal workers can enter tax-related positions during the spring, and workers in the agricultural industry may find seasonal jobs during peak harvest times such as spring and fall.

In many of these cases, employers hire around the time their peak seasons begin, so starting your search around one to two months before the season begins is an appropriate timeline for securing a job.

Summer jobs

If you are looking for summer jobs, it is important to get started in your search as early as January through March so you can alert potential employers to your availability. This is an effective timeline, especially for students finishing school, as they have several months to look while focusing on finishing school.

Holiday jobs

Typically, the holiday season encompasses late fall to late winter, and many employers like to have seasonal workers ready to start when the season starts. Therefore, beginning your search in early fall can help increase your chances of getting a job for the holiday season.


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