When Should College Students Start their Job Search?

Ah…senior year.  The dog days of college.  The home stretch.  The final countdown.  While the last is admittedly stolen from an epic rock anthem, it certainly fits with both the feel and intention behind our other colloquialisms when it comes to the final days of your college education.

While your last year at the hallowed halls of education will no doubt be filled with numerous exams, events, and reason for celebrations, the event also marks your transition from a student to the workforce.  Savvy job seekers know that waiting until you’ve thrown your cap and returned from your post-graduation vacation to start that job search will probably leave you behind the ball.  

With that in mind, we’ve put together a handy timeline for maximizing your post-graduation chances at scoring the job of your dreams.

Pre-Senior Year

Sure, we may have started this advice column off by talking about your senior years, but in truth, there’s a great deal that can be done prior to your commencement season that will help lineup job prospects.  Most colleges and universities offer various for-credit courses that allow you to get hands-on training by working at select jobs while earning credits towards your degree.  

Additionally, summers are great for picking up paid or unpaid internships that pull double duty by letting you test out the career waters by allowing potential employers to evaluate whether you’d make a great, post-graduation fit for their job ranks.  The trick is to keep these positions relevant to your chosen, or likely, career field to help maximize their benefit.  

Senior Year: 9 Months Before Graduation

In the first few weeks back on campus after your junior/senior year break, be sure to visit your campus’ career center.  Here you’ll find valuable information for your post-grad job search.  Dates for career fairs, on-campus interviews, and recruiting drives will all be planned through this centralized resource.  Fill out a few forms and insert an email and mailing address and you’ll be kept up to date on the latest and greatest in these areas.

Bonus Tip: Your senior year is typically less packed with core courses making it a great time to bolster your resume with relevant and impressive volunteer or extracurricular activities.  

Senior Year: 6 Months Before Graduation

Around the time the weather starts changing, many potential employers will be lining up their on-campus interviews or reserving their spots for career or recruiting fairs.  In advance of these events, compile a list of attendees and do your due diligence by researching open positions, the recruitment process and any company specifics such as locations and corporate culture.  This data will have you ready when your application is accepted and it’s time to interview.

Bonus Tip: It’s never too early to have a professional resume.  Ask a trusted professor or a member of your career counseling team to give yours a once-over to set yourself up for success.  

Senior Year: 4 Months Before Graduation

Around the time you’ll be returning from winter break, most employers will start conducting their on-campus interviews.  Prep for these events by applying for as many applicable listings as possible.  You should also take this time to get your interview wardrobe and other necessities in order.  Treat on-campus interviews as you would post-graduation.  Show up prepared and professional and with plenty of background info on your prospective employer.  Even if you don’t land one of the limited number of available positions, the interviews will be great preparation and will help strengthen your real-world interview skills.

Bonus Tip: College is a great opportunity to collect professional references.  Professors, mentors, and contacts from your college internship or work-study positions all make great points of contact to talk up your skills.

After Graduation and Beyond

If you haven’t managed to line up a job before graduation, don’t worry.  The majority of college students will still need to start their career hunt in earnest post cap and gown ceremonies.  If you’ve participated in mock interviews or on-campus interviewing opportunities you’ll have a leg up on the competition and will have an extra boost of confidence come interview day.  Entry level interviewing and hiring is cyclical so it’s important to apply early and often and not delay in sending those forms out post-graduation.

Bonus Tip: Just because you’ve graduated doesn’t mean those college resources are now out of reach.  Your college’s rankings are often impacted by employment statistics meaning they have a vested interest in seeing you succeed out in the real world.  Keep in touch with your career center for networking functions and alumni job openings, post-graduation for another source of potential job prospects.


Article Updated from the Original on October 16, 2017