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When Should Grad Students Apply for a New Job?

If you’re pursuing a graduate degree, you probably have a career goal in mind. You’re either looking to give your current career a boost or you want to pursue a new career in a different field altogether. Once you earn that graduate degree, however, taking the step toward a new career isn’t always easy. It’s going to take some work to land the job you want.

The Secret? Start Early!

The biggest secret to landing the job you want when you finish grad school is simple – start your search early. If you wait until you finish your graduate degree, you’re already behind. When you first begin working on your graduate degree, take the time to think about what kinds of jobs you can get with the educational path you’ve chosen. Explore jobs and employers that are available to individuals with your educational background.

Knowing what’s available now means that you’ll be even more prepared when you’re about to graduate. You should be working on your resume, growing your network, and building connections with potential employers as you work on your graduate degree so you’re prepared to start sending out those applications within a few months of graduation.

The Dos of Job Searching for Grad Students

Work on Your Resume Throughout Your Time in Grad School
The entire time you’re in grad school, you should be working on your resume. Have it polished and ready for when it’s time to start applying for jobs. Make sure you update your resume as you add work experience, internships, volunteering, or other relative experience.  These activities are important to employers too.

Build New Connections
Use the time you’re working on your grad degree to build new connections with people in your desired field and employers you’re interested in working for in the future. Many jobs are never advertised, and building connections and networking is one of the best ways to tap into the hidden job market in your chosen occupation. Great ways to network while you’re pursuing your degree include going to career fairs, participating in industry conferences, and attending professional organization events.

Spruce Up Your Social Network Profiles
According to U.S. News, surveys show that 89% of companies use social networks for part of the hiring process. This means you should spruce up your social network profiles. Not only can good social network profiles help you in your job search, but it gives you a measure of control over your professional narrative. And that’s a good thing since most companies Google their potential employees.

Use LinkedIn to Your Advantage
Speaking of social networks … make sure you’re using LinkedIn to your advantage. LinkedIn is like having a resume that never sleeps, and it’s a way to build your personal brand—something that’s important as you begin your job search. It’s a great place to search for job opportunities and a great place where you can be found if you take the time to build a quality profile.

And the Don’ts

Don’t Make the Mistake of Not Applying for Enough Jobs
According to, students usually only apply to a few — one to five — jobs at a time, and this may be a mistake. Don’t apply for one job and just wait around. Consider several possible employers and pursue multiple options. If you get more than one offer, you can use other offers as leverage to get the terms you want from the employer you want to work with most.

Don’t Forget to Spread the Word in Your Network
Tell your network. Let others know that you’re pursuing your grad degree. The network you already have in place may prove helpful when you’re ready to find a job.

Don’t Wait Too Late to Start Applying
This can’t be emphasized enough. Do not wait to start applying for the jobs you want. Jumpstart the process by submitting applications two-to-four months before you actually finish your grad degree. If you’ve already been working on your resume, networking, building connections, and using LinkedIn, you’ll find it that much easier when it’s time to apply.

If you’re already working on your grad degree, your job search should start now. Make sure you’re following these dos and don’ts. Get in the game early to make sure you not only graduate with your graduate degree but the job you want, too.

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