Here at Lyle Health we receive thousands of calls from recent graduate Physician Assistant and Nurse Practitioner students. A very common question is, based on when I graduate, how early should I start looking for a job? Is it ever too early to start looking? In short, the answer is yes!
We recommend recent graduates to start looking anywhere from 90-120 days before graduation. First you need to determine your location and specialty preferences. Once the criteria has been narrowed down, it is important to understand what your potential employer pool looks like.
Applying for jobs too early will often result in job application submissions, emails and phone calls going without answers. When an employer posts a job, they typically have an immediate opening. The employer knows on average, from start to finish, it may take anywhere from 30-90 days to identify the right person, screen, hire and then ultimately schedule a start date. Things that often delay the process can include reference checking, credentialing, state licenses and obtaining certain certifications.
For recent graduates in the 90-120 day window, most of these “hold up” items can be taken care of when the PA/NP student is still in school. That way, once you graduate, you study, take your certification exam, receive a state license and are ready to go! When an employer sees a candidate who doesn’t graduate for 6 months (or even longer); they are simply not prepared to go through an entire interview process and make an offer to someone who can’t start for that long a period of time. Remember, if you graduate in 6 months, and then it takes perhaps 45 days after graduation to take and pass your exams and receive your license, the employer sees your “availability” not at 6 months, but closer to 8 or even 9 months depending on credentialing.
The other disadvantage to applying to jobs too early is your CV and applicant information are submitted to employer ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems) the date of your first application. Some ATS’s will flag your application as “not qualified” (simply based that you don’t graduate for several months) and then you will be overlooked for possible opportunities even once you have graduated and passed all of your certification exams. As an example, lets say you graduate in May of 2020, but apply to a job in December of 2019; they will pass on you in December because you are “too early” and then unless they set an alarm, they most likely won’t call you in May 2020 when positions do open up. Sometimes, timing is everything!
In review, the ideal time to apply to a job is in the 90-120 day window before graduation. Also, if you apply to jobs when you graduate or perhaps 30 days before you graduate, that is also totally acceptable. We speak with a lot of recent graduates who start in the 0-30 day period. We understand that school is demanding and there are a lot of students who prefer to focus on their current rotations and their exams and then the job search.