When To Start Applying For A Job

Updated December 12, 2022

As you look for employment, it's important to consider when you should apply for jobs based on your current life circumstances and the industry you're in. Also, while some companies start their recruiting process early, others begin to seek candidates months down the road. Knowing when to apply is a great way to make sure you're opening yourself up to the plethora of jobs readily available to you. In this article, we will determine when to start applying for jobs and offer tips for the job application process.

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Why is it important to know when to start applying for jobs?

As you begin to consider your professional career, it's important to know when to start applying for jobs relevant to your chosen industry. Applying at the most opportune time saves not only your time, but that of your employer as well. This is because if you were to apply too early, you might not be ready to start employment when your employer would potentially need you. In this article, we will outline when to start applying, tips and the reason why it's important to know when you should start the application process.

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

When to start applying for jobs

The timeframe in which you begin applying for jobs is highly dependent on the part of life you're in as well as your industry. In general, applying 1-3 months in advance of when you'd like to start is a good idea. However, it's important to consider various timelines you might encounter in your life to determine when you should submit your resume. Here are some general guidelines for when to start the application process depending on where you are in your professional career:

  • During your senior year

  • Before you move

  • During college

  • During graduate school

During your senior year

As you enter your senior year, it's normal to consider your prospective career. While some students might prefer to start a year or two in advance, others wait until a few months before graduation to begin applying. It's important to note that because you're still a senior in high school, you won't be able to start employment until after you graduate.

As always, you should also keep in mind the industry you plan to work to determine the right recruiting window for you. For example, your employer might only be recruiting new employees during certain times of the year. While some will start recruiting as early as fall in industries such as accounting or investment banking, others will wait until the spring. This is highly dependent on a company's particular hiring process, the number of interviews they require and the overall length of their training. It's important to research the industry you're in to determine when the companies you'd like to work for are hiring.

Here are some guidelines for where you should be in the job search and application process throughout your senior year. Keep in mind that this will depend on your industry and that some companies require you to apply months in advance. Research where you'd like to land to make sure you're applying at the right time.

Summer before your senior year

It's a good idea to start your job search as soon as possible. Because of the various ways companies conduct their recruiting process, it's smart to start your research the summer before your senior year. This ensures you'll have a wide variety of possibilities available to you when the time to apply comes.


During the fall, continue your research. Consider what you'd like to do and where you'd like to work. Make sure the companies you're considering align with your values and the culture you want to work in.


As you enter winter, begin making connections within your field. Networking will help you not only learn more about what your industry entails, but will hopefully help you land a job, as well.

Early spring

Toward the beginning of spring, get your resume and cover letter ready. It's also a good idea to make the proper preparations for your future job interviews. This can include researching common interview questions in your field.

Late spring

Now that spring is in full swing, it's time to start applying. Once you've determined the companies you'd like to work for, apply online or in person. The more jobs you apply to, the greater your chances are of landing an opportunity. With that said, make sure to choose wisely and not go overboard.

Before you move

Because multiple factors come into play, it's hard to determine when exactly you should apply for a job when you move or relocate. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Your industry

  • The economy

  • The demand for your skills and experience level

It's important to give yourself plenty of time to job search as you consider when to apply. Consulting with others in your industry that already live in the location you're moving to could be highly beneficial. Also, be aware that things might not go according to plan.

For example, some employers might need you to start earlier than intended or it might take you longer than you thought to land a new opportunity. Learn to be flexible when these situations arise. In general, it's best to search as much in advance as possible while also keeping in mind that some employers might not want to wait around for months. For the most part, applying 1-3 months ahead of when you'd like to move is a good idea.

During college

Much like with your senior year in high school, it's best to start researching companies and jobs going into your senior year. Consider networking with professionals in your field and gaining valuable experience through an internship or various volunteering opportunities. While some companies might be hiring in the fall, the majority will not. Most companies begin their recruitment process in the middle of their second semester. Start searching for jobs you'd like to apply for during this time. Ideally, you should start applying at the end of your second semester.

During graduate school

As previously mentioned, applying 1-3 months before you'd like to begin employment is recommended. While in some cases, three months might be too long, one month might not give you enough time depending on your industry. As you apply for jobs in graduate school, be mindful of the specific companies you'd like to work for and any training they might require before employment. It's crucial to find a job after graduation so your employment start date doesn't conflict with your schooling.

Related: Guide: How to Get a Job After College

Tips for applying to jobs

Here are several tips to consider as you begin the job application process:

Tailor your resume to the job

Make sure your resume and cover letter are specific to the job you're applying for. Don't feel the need to include all of your experience—only include what would benefit you in this position. A clean and tailored resume makes a great first impression.

Look over your resume and cover letter

Make sure both documents are free from error. Verify all the names of your previous employers, refrain from adding references until asked and make sure your contact information is visible and accurate.

Research the company

As you apply for jobs, continue researching the companies you're applying to. This will help you know if you truly want to work there and will help you go into the interview process should you hear back from a hiring manager.

Read the job posting carefully

It's vital that you read an employer's job post in its entirety to understand what type of employee they're looking for. This will help you know what will be required of you and save you both a lot of time.

Continue networking

Many jobs to this day are found through word of mouth and networking. It's important to continue making connections with others in your field to open up more opportunities for you now or in the future.

Continue applying

Even if you haven't heard back from an employer, continue applying to various jobs. This will greaten your chances for employment should that one opportunity not work out.

Related: The New Graduate's Guide to Job Search

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When does recruiting happen on campus?

Recruiting on your university campus can happen as early as fall. However, this is highly dependent on the industry you're in and the company doing the recruiting. Companies with earlier deadlines are likely to have a more extensive interview process and training program before the start of employment. This tends to be the case for those recruiting in the fall months and who hope to hire full-time employees. Other companies may choose to start the recruitment process in the spring.

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