How Early To Apply For Jobs (Out of State and In State)

By Biron Clark


Applying for Jobs

Biron Clark

Biron Clark

Writer & Career Coach


I received the following message from a reader about how far in advance to apply for jobs when moving (personal details changed):

I am a Registered Nurse and plan on moving from New York to Austin TX in June. When should I start applying for jobs in Texas? My friend says I should start applying now in January but I’m afraid most employers won’t be able to predict their needs for June right now.

How Far In Advance Should You Apply For Jobs?

Okay, here’s when to start applying for jobs…

In short, I’d recommend starting 3-4 months before you plan on needing a job. This can depend a lot on the economy in the city you’re moving to, and how in-demand your skill-set is.

For the reader above, I actually recommended 2-3 months maximum because Nurses usually have no trouble finding interested employers.

So start with a figure of 3-4 months of lead time, and adjust upward or downward a bit depending on your industry and the size of company you’re looking at (large companies often have a longer and more complicated hiring process).

Note: For senior level positions or upper management roles, you might need way more time. Use your judgement depending on your experience level. The rest of the advice below will still be relevant though.

What Happens If You Apply For Jobs Too Early Or Too Late?

Hopefully the info above helped you figure out how early you should apply for jobs.

But it’s not an exact science as you can probably tell. It’ll take some guesswork.

So to make the decision easier, let’s look at what happens if you time things wrong. This will give you a better idea of the risks and will help you make your decision.

Here’s What Happens If You Apply For Jobs Too Early

You won’t have intensity or focus if you start way sooner than needed. You’ll have a sense of comfort and you’ll just go through the motions without any urgency. Waste of time.

Also, if you start searching for jobs prematurely, you risk losing the interest of many companies simply because they aren’t willing to wait that long for you.

You might have gotten a great response if you waited 2 months to apply, but because you applied in January, your resume gets thrown in a ‘hold’ pile and you never receive a call back (papers get lost, HR people aren’t perfect, etc.)

If you’re applying extremely early, you’re running the risk of stopping yourself from finding a job, by eliminating some employers that would have seriously considered you if you were ready to start within 2-3 months.

The obvious solution, and the reason I made the recommendations above, is just wait until you’re 2-3 months away from needing the job.

Here’s What Happens If You Apply For Jobs Too Late

This is a bit more obvious. If you start too late, you run the risk of not having a job lined up on the target date. You might have a few interviews in process, or maybe nothing at all lined up depending on how late you started your search.

In the end, you need to weigh the risks of both. Do you have a lot of savings and don’t mind spending a bit of time with no job? Will you enjoy having a gap to conduct a careful job search without stressing? Start a bit later.

Do you care mostly about having some type of job lined up on your target date, no matter what? Start earlier and apply for a wide variety of jobs.

What You Should Do When It’s Time To Start Applying For Jobs:

Now that you know how far in advance you should apply for a job, here are a couple more tips and resources for your job search:

Once it’s time to start applying, attack the job search 100%. Full effort. Apply for jobs every day.

Apply via job boards, apply via LinkedIn, go to company websites and submit your resume via their “careers” page or via email.

This is why I don’t recommend you start looking with 5-6 months to spare. You’ll give less than full effort into the job search and spend a few minutes per week casually looking.

It’s better to wait a bit and then give full effort a couple of months in advance.

So use the guidelines above for deciding when to start your job search.

Then, use these additional resources above help you get more interviews when you do apply.


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how soon should i start applying for jobs

Biron Clark

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22 thoughts on “How Early To Apply For Jobs (Out of State and In State)”

  1. I am moving to Vancouver Wa and I’m from Michigan. I put PTO for the end of April. I have a idea on what to apply to but when should I start applying to the jobs? From reading this, maybe March? I am looking at the kitchen in a hospital like I’m doing now and this current job I had took at least a month til they called me back.

  2. Hi Biron! Thank you for this amazing article. I’m stuck in a bad job and can move only after October 1st. So when do you suggest I start looking out for new opportunities? I also require H1B sponsorship so it’s probably going to take a little bit longer for me to start securing meaningful interviews.

    • Hi Lakshmi, I’d start soon, especially since hiring/interviewing is pretty slow in the summer months usually.

      I’d start planning/organizing now, and start applying in July at the latest.

  3. I would think that starting to gather information early is good. I at the 5-6 mark now and I’m starting to look up the skills the jobs I want requires so that I can maybe take a continuing ed course or a volunteer position to gain any additional skills I might need. I’m also looking up the salary figures for my field so I can better think about what kind of salary I’m likely to get and what I want so I’m not caught off guard when salary negotiations come up

  4. My plans are to New Jersey in about 3-4 months, to help my daughter pursue her dreams. How soon should I send out my Resumes?

    • That’s exactly what the article answers. That’s the whole topic that’s addressed here, from the beginning of the article.

  5. I am considering moving to a different state and need some advise on how do I start the process. I wouldnneed to sell my condo. And I was thing about job market. Weather to rent or buy etc. can you made any recommendations thank tpu

  6. Hello Biron, I am interested in a possible relocation, so this article was extremely informative. I was told by another resume guru that placing willing to relocate in the header leaves an open dialogue, and depending on what the company is seeking could now include you. What do you think?

  7. Hi Biron,

    Thank you so much for this information. I’m trying to move out of state (specifically West Palm Beach, FL) with a work start date of no earlier than June 4th. I have plans to go out in mid-March for a week. I’m assuming I should start to securing interviews a couple weeks before my March trip or should I start a month out to secure interviews? It’s a bit difficult because I’m in the NY area and I don’t have the capacity to fly in and out for various interviews. What would you recommend in my case?

  8. A 3rd wave coffee shop is opening up in a state I will be moving to in 4 months.
    I do not know the opening date of the coffee shop.
    Do you recommend me waiting a couple more months to apply?
    It seems that food and retail hire quicker than corporate jobs.

    • Hey- you’re right, it does seem to happen faster in food & retail. I’d wait a bit to apply for the job, like you said.

  9. Thanks for the information! So you apply about 3-4 months ahead of time. On the “when can you start” application question, would you still put a date three months out?
    This may be a silly question, but I have been told before to put the following month with the assumption the company won’t actually want you that early.
    Thank you!

    • Hey Elise,

      Don’t try to guess when they’ll be ready to hire you when you tell them when you can start. Tell them honestly how soon you could be available.

      Like this:

      “2 week notice required from the time an offer is made”
      “2 week notice plus 2 weeks for relocation”
      “Available to start 1 week after an offer is made”

      Relate it to the point in time an offer is made. That’s what they really want to know. Don’t try to guess when they’ll be done interviewing you, etc.

      Let me know if this makes sense.

      edit: Or if you do have a certain date you can start, tell them. If it’s January and you cannot take a new job until March 1st, say “Available to start March 1, 2017. 2 week notice is required from the time an offer is made”.

  10. This is great Biron. Exactly what I wanted.

    I was wondering how early I should apply for a job that I want, but am not ready to move to immediately. Looks like I was thinking of jumping the gun and doing things earlier than you’d recommend so I’m going to wait and stick to your timeline!

  11. I have a question about timing my job search later this year. I really want to get a new job this summer because things are not going well at work but I have a big family vacation planned for 2 weeks and my current employer approved it. I doubt some other company will hrie me and then let me get 2 weeks right away. What do you think? Am I overthinking the timing of all of this? I thought of maybe applying for jobs before I left and then setting up interviews right when I get back from my vacation but that seems a little shady to do that to my current employer as well. Will that burn a bridge?

    • Hi Rod,

      Some employers will be fine with a vacation right after they hire you. The key is to tell them during the interview process, or before you accept an offer. It’s one thing to land a new job and decide to go on vacation that month, but having something pre-planned is different! So you could start applying for jobs right now and just be clear with them about the vacation that’s already scheduled. If you don’t like your current employer that’s what I’d do. I think it’s more comfortable and honest, at least in terms of how I’d feel in my own career, compared with going on a long vacation and then coming back and quitting right away. But, it wouldn’t be too bad to come back from vacation at your current job, and then start applying for jobs and figure it’ll take a month or two to secure a position. Then you’re not quitting immediately after. The one thing I would NOT do is line up a new job, don’t tell your employer, go on vacation and then quit the week you get back. Not a good look!


  12. This validated a lot of the things I was feelings. Thanks for this informative post. Hopefully it brings me good results in my upcoming search.

  13. Great piece Biron! I don’t remember that I’ve read a lot of articles about this topic so it was especially interesting for me.

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