With an expected graduation from a master's program in 7 months, I recently started the process of applying for jobs and submitting my resume to companies for full-time and hopefully long-term employment. There isn't a lot of work in my field locally, so almost any position I interview for would require relocation.

I have my expected graduation date listed on my resume, but should I address in my cover letter that I won't be available to move or start work for several months? For a more general answer, could there be different etiquette if the target employment date were a a couple weeks, couple months, or a couple years in the future?

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    do people really apply for jobs years in advance? a recent question mentioned that they interviewed for a position a few years in advance. Aug 9, 2013 at 2:09
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    @mhoran_psprep Probably not years in advance. But in light of the lacklustre job market, applying for jobs a semester in advance or during the penultimate year is perfectly reasonable.
    – Physkid
    Feb 13, 2018 at 4:45
  • @DavidKaczynski If it is on your resume, there is no value in repeating the same thing on the cover. Indicating a range of the expected grades on the CV you see yourself achieving is a much better idea.
    – Physkid
    Feb 13, 2018 at 4:47

3 Answers 3


I'd say, go with what's normal in your field, country and the current state of your education. For my part, most of the time when I read resumes, I know that folks expecting to graduate from a major institution will only be available to start work after the graduation date. I hope that if that's not true (long distance education, unusual arrangements, etc) - that they'll explain in their cover letter.

I'd expect this to be dependent on the education and the field. For example, in Computer Science, most undergrads and any full time grad students have this norm. But those pursuing Master's degrees while working full time and going to class in the evening tend to have much more flexibility.

In terms of time:

  • The longer the time until graduation the less certain it is. There's generally a sweet spot where you are close enough to finishing, and have enough training in the field to be a viable interview candidate. Interviewing before that time is likely to be fruitless if you want to reap the benefits of the degree.

  • If you've decided to interview way ahead of the norm, explain why in the cover letter. I know that generally, I won't bother to look at candidates who won't be available for a year - but in my industry, I know that the budget for new hires is figured out yearly - so I won't know next year's hiring opportunities until next year. There's also serious team/productivity impact to waiting for a long time for a promised hire to arrive - the hiring date is generally the you start, not the day you accepted the offer.

  • If you are so close to graduation that the only thing that could keep you from graduation is setting the school on fire, remove any reference to this from the cover letter and say "graduation Month/Year". Figure that most hiring processes are at least a week, and in different industries can take a month or more. So, if you got a first interview today, would you have graduated by the time they want a start date? If the answer is yes, no need to mention special arrangements.

Graduate work differs, but many companies hire new grads in waves. They know that schools work on a semester system, and they really don't expect to see a new grad until the typical graduation season is over. This varies if you have an odd graduation date. For example - the US tends to have a huge majority of graduations in May/June. Students may have an unusual pattern, and may finish classes in the fall semester. And also they may "graduate" only in May, even if the coursework was done in December. Those are the cases where you really want to make sure you're clear. "Anticipated Graduation date May 2014, Available to work December 2013" is bound to provoke a question.


I have my expected graduation date listed on my resume, but should I address in my cover letter that I won't be available to move or start work for several months?

I review a lot of resumes, and some that include cover letters.

I understand what an expected graduation date means, so there's no need to repeat that information in a cover letter.

But sometimes that doesn't directly translate to an availability date. For example, if you are planning a post-graduation vacation or travel, you might graduate in the Spring, but not be available to work until the Fall. In that case, it's important to include the work availability date in the cover letter.

In addition, if you have limits to your availability for in-person interviews, you should indicate that in your cover letter.

I have received resumes from students before - not usually 7 months in advance of their availability. And, at least with my open positions, I would not be interviewing anyone that far in advance. Too many things change in 7 months, both in my company, and with individuals, that I wouldn't ever commit a position that far in advance.

That said, I know some companies do recruit for graduates far ahead of their actual availability.

Good luck!

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    This is why I always put an objective on my resume when I was in school, saying something like "Looking for a FT position starting August 2013" (more eloquent than this) - I wanted there not to ever be any confusion. Especially if a resume/cover letter got separated at some point. Just makes everyone's life easier
    – enderland
    Aug 9, 2013 at 14:23

Do not include it as a caveat. The worst-case-scenario for the company if you do not caveat your timeline obligation is that a Recruiter reaches out and you explain it to them then. That is no harm to the company, however that creates a strategic connection for you!

Now, you can ask the Recruiter how far in advance that company tends to hire, ask if there will be future openings aligning with your timeline, and express your future interest. Then, you have their contact info to check back in when the time is better aligned.

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