How early is too early to apply for a job? If you need to know when is the best time to apply for a job, then check out our article, and we’ll give you the scoop.
Timing is everything. This goes for many things in life and is definitely true for applying for a new job. You can certainly apply too late for a job, but can you apply too early? It completely depends on the type of job and your circumstances. However, there are some general rules of thumb to follow when it comes to timing your job applications. We’ll cover this and more in this article.
How far in advance should you apply for a job?
How to time your application based on the job
The best time of year to apply
Unless you have a source of inside information, you’re probably finding out about the position from a job listing. This means that as soon as you see the job posting, it’s open to applications. It’s also quite possible that the job has already been open for some time. These things are outside your control. So, let’s talk about factors that you do control, or at least have full information about.
If you’re currently working, then you will have to factor in giving notice to your current employer. This means that, traditionally, you wouldn’t be available to start a new job for at least two weeks. Applying more than two weeks in advance of starting is a minimum. From an overall time perspective, one to three months (on average) is not out of the ordinary.
For full-time students, you won’t be able to begin working until you’ve graduated, so be sure to give yourself plenty of lead time when you apply (up to six months). Employers understand about giving notice or, if you’re a student, that your availability is subject to your completing school. They expect that you’ll need some time and should work with you on scheduling your starting date.
While a one to three-month time frame is an overall average, the optimal lead time for applying will vary by the type of job you’re going for. If you’re a seasonal worker or looking for a holiday job, then you’ll want to apply well before the season starts. For summer jobs, that would be in the first quarter of the year (January through March). Holiday jobs typically will be hiring starting in September and running through October.
The level of the role will also impact how far in advance you should apply. Entry-level positions are the most flexible because many companies are constantly looking to fill these roles. You can apply from a few weeks to even just days ahead of the starting date. For supervisory to mid-level management positions, you should allow more time for the hiring process. This falls into the one to three-month range, or possibly more for larger companies. If you’re at the top management or executive level, you should anticipate an even longer hiring process.
We’ve talked about how your situation and the type of job affect the timing of your application. There are also certain times of year that are better for submitting applications. We’ll break down the year by quarter and give you the rundown on how companies hire:
The first quarter of the year is when many companies are starting their new budgets and have new positions available. The beginning of the year is also typically when everyone comes back from vacation and is available to facilitate the hiring process. This is usually the best time to apply for a job.
During the second quarter of the year, the hiring process for a lot of seasonal activities like taxes and mid-year programs (funded with first-quarter earnings) takes place. School graduations also take place towards the end of the second quarter and companies will be seeking graduates to hire. This is also a good quarter to apply for a new job.
The third quarter is the last chance to bring in people for year-end activities. However, many people also take summer vacations during this timeframe and may not be available for interviews. Not the best timeframe to get onboard, but third-quarter projects can create job openings.
In the fourth quarter, vacations and holidays cause the hiring process to slow down. This is also when budgets run out, or, on the other hand, they may be scrambling to spend their remaining funds. Generally not the best time to apply, but you may find some opportunities to jump on.
If you’re not sure where to take your career, then check out our Explore Careers page to help you figure out the best path to go down.
The best time to apply depends on the job you’re pursuing.
Entry-level jobs require less lead time than executive-level roles.
Plan ahead for seasonal jobs, and if you’re preparing to graduate.
Time your application appropriately, and land your next great job!
Garland is a writer and technology consultant that lives in far west Texas, USA. He is semi-retired from a successful 25-year career in the Information Technology industry, and now spends his time writing for various websites (mostly career development related). Garland holds a bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Finance, and a master’s degree in Economics and Computer Information Systems.