MBA Q&A Spotlight: I keep hearing that we are in a “just-in-time market.” What does this mean, and when should I start applying for jobs?

I keep hearing that we are in a “just-in-time market.” What does this mean, and when should I start applying for jobs?

A just-in-time market refers to a recruiting environment where employers focus on filling job vacancies as they arise, rather than hiring candidates for anticipated future openings. Just-in-time hiring focuses on filling individual positions once employers have a concrete job requirement/posting available, allowing employers to be more flexible and meet immediate business needs.
In a just-in-time market, employers:

  • Typically, have tighter hiring timelines and expect a decision about accepting offers within several days of making an offer
  • Expect candidates to be able to start soon after the interview process is complete
  • Often pull down job postings after only a few days if they receive a high volume of applications
  • Look for a strong match between the skills required to do the role and previous work experience
  • Place a high value on internal referrals and candidates who network their way to the hiring manager

For optimal timing in a just-in-time market, start actively applying to jobs ~2 to 3 months before your target start date, as that is roughly the average time it takes from posting a job to filling a role in many industries. For example, if you want to start a job in June, the ideal time to start applying for roles is now.
Now is the time to get market ready, which means you have done the preparatory work to align yourself with opportunities in the market. For example: 

  • Have clear targets with a well-defined industry/function/location for which you have completed your fit and feasibility assessment to confirm you are a competitive candidate
  • Have a strong positioning statement that highlights aspects of your previous experience relevant to the target role and
  • Developed a target list of at least 30 companies for each target and have built and are nurturing a relationship with a decision-maker at each firm

In a just-in-time market, you compete not only against other MBAs, but also against other qualified candidates. This increased competition means it’s even more critical to develop a clear positioning statement and develop finely-tuned resumes and LinkedIn profiles that align with your targets and make it easy for a hiring manager to see what you are targeting and why you are qualified. 

See the Market Readiness Scorecard for a comprehensive overview of the steps you need to take to get market-ready. Utilizing the scorecard and getting market ready will set you up for success once you start actively applying for roles. 

The MIT Sloan Career Fair on April 9 is another opportunity to connect with employers across industries. Come build your network, make connections, and learn about new opportunities. We look forward to seeing many of you there!

By MIT Sloan CDO