Calling all college seniors: If you’re anything like me, you’re constantly thinking about when you should start the dreaded job search. I mean, how early is too early to start sending out your résumé? The thing is, there’s not really one right answer. The best time to start applying for a post-grad gig varies from industry to industry—and sometimes drastically. With that in mind, I dug a little deeper for you, doing my best to answer the big “Do I need to start job hunting already?” question for a number of different fields. Consider this your ultimate job search timeline.
Talk about being ahead of the game: Most finance students have their post-grad plans set in stone long before they actually graduate, according to the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School career plan survey report. If you look closely at the 2014 report, you’ll notice that 79.3 percent of Wharton’s 2014 graduates had already accepted job offers by the end of the fall semester of their senior year. Another interesting tidbit: 34.6 percent of Wharton’s 2014 graduates had previously interned at the institution from which they accepted the offer.
If you count yourself among those lucky Wall Street-bound students, you either already have a job locked down or should probably start searching now. Consider digging back to any connections you made at your summer internship to get started.
Take a few minutes to reflect on the past few years, because laying a foundation for a career in fashion starts early: Cynthia Harvey, a career advisor at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles, said that many fashion students apply for and participate in internship programs as early as their second year of school. If you’ve landed an awesome internship or two throughout your college career—which you likely have, as your industry is all about the experience—you’re already on the right track. Go, you!
When it comes to the actual job hunt, Harvey suggests that students at FIDM, which runs on a quarter system, start the quarter before they plan to graduate. If your school runs on a semester system, translate that to the beginning of your final semester—or even the end of the previous semester. And while you’re on the hunt for the perfect full-time gig? “Network, network, and network,” Harvey said.
Have you ever heard the saying “It’s not what you know, but who you know?” It’s never felt more true than it does in the media business. The first step in searching for any job in the publishing or PR industry is networking, said Barbara Willis, student service coordinator at the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism. Kick ass at your internships and freelance gigs, conduct informational interviews, and chat with people in person long before you think you’ll actually be looking for a job, and you’ll greatly increase your chances of getting an awesome referral and, ultimately, an awesome job.
Once you’ve networked, conducted informational interviews, and done your research, it might finally be time to start filling out applications. But don’t go applying to media jobs too early: Employers are only advertising jobs they need filled in the near future, so actual applications shouldn’t be filled out until approximately 12 weeks before you are available to work, Willis said.
It’s safe to say that the academic timeline for medical students is nearly always a very structured one, what with course requirements, clinicals, and everything else that comes with earning a degree in a health and wellness discipline. It should come as no surprise that the job search timeline is very similar—and involves plenty of planning.
According to a job search timeline for nursing students on the Johns Hopkins University career center website, the beginning of your fall semester is a time for planning and really figuring out what you want from your future career. Take December and January to network and make contacts at hospitals and health centers before sending out applications in the spring.
With some of the most marketable skills in today’s working world, you likely don’t have to worry too much about landing an awesome job after graduation. If you think you’d benefit from following a more structured job search timeline, though, try using this one constructed by the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.
According to the school’s online job search timeline and four-year career plan, soon-to-be tech grads should spend the first few months of their senior year reaching out to previous employers for referrals, making new contacts in their field, and applying and interviewing everywhere that they can. Offers will likely start floating in as early as mid-January, and if there’s an offer that you’re willing, able, and excited to accept? Enjoy the rest of your final semester with a little extra peace of mind.
This article originally appeared on Levo and is reprinted with permission.