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It's Never Too Early to Start Job Searching

It's Never Too Early to Start Job Searching

It's never to early to use job search engines as well as to get a resume critique.

Peter Vogt, Monster Career Coach

May 12, 2009

Is it ever too soon to look for the postgraduation job you want?

The short answer is, “No, it isn’t.” But the more complete answer is, “It depends on what you mean by look.”

Timing is critical in your job search, just as it is in many things in life. Perhaps that’s why so many college students have questions like the one below, which appeared recently on the message board:

“I am currently a senior in college and graduating in May. Is it too early to look for jobs?”

Again, the short answer is, “No, it isn’t.” But the more complete answer is, “It depends on what you mean by look.”

One common definition of looking for a job centers on the idea of applying for current job openings by sending a resume and cover letter and trying to land an interview. If this is your definition of looking for a job, then there is such a thing as too soon; it really makes no sense for you to look for a job in this particular way until shortly before you graduate. After all, if you apply for a current job opening in, say, October but you won’t be graduating until the following May, then you’re really wasting both your and the employer’s time and effort.

On the other hand, it’s never too soon if you expand the idea of looking for a job to include strategies that are more future-oriented and, usually, more effective. Among the search activities that will help you no matter when you start them:

  • Talk to People in Your Future Industry: Regardless of when you’ll be graduating, you can start learning more about your field and the opportunities it offers (both now and in the future) by talking to people who are currently working in the industry. This method of looking for a job lets you build the all-important personal relationships that will help you launch your career and maintain it for years to come.
  • Read About Your Field: What critical issues are emerging in your future industry? What are people worrying about or looking forward to within your field? Perhaps most importantly, where will the job opportunities be in the near and not-so-near future? You can find out all of that and more by keeping up with trade publications, journals, newspapers and other periodicals in your field. And, of course, the Internet, too, offers volumes of information on all fields, if you’re willing to go out and find it, either on your own or with the help of a campus career counselor or reference librarian.
  • Monitor Job Listings: Using Internet sites like Monster.com as well as industry Web sites and publications, you can easily get a sense of the types of jobs that are opening up in your field. Keep your eye on current job listings — not so much with the idea of applying for them, but learning from them. What skills do the employers seem to be looking for the most? What experiences do the employers seem most interested in? And where, geographically and by company, are most jobs currently emerging?
  • Network with People You Already Know Well: If you’re going to graduate in May, for example, it certainly doesn’t hurt for you to mention that now to your professors, your parents, your other relatives and everyone else you run into in your day-to-day life. Start putting out feelers with the people you know, and tell them you’re always open to hearing their suggestions or, better yet, learning about job leads they’re aware of.

The timing may not always be quite right for you to apply for an appealing job that’s immediately available. But it’s never too early to start your job search in a behind-the-scenes sort of way. The knowledge you gain and the personal relationships you develop will ultimately put you front and center in the minds of employers, and that’s where you want to be anytime.

This article originally appeared on Monster.com.


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