When Should You Start Applying To Your First Full-Time Job?

Liam Berry
When Should You Start Applying To Your First Full-Time Job?

Applying to your first full-time job can be confusing. Often you have no idea where to start. What are the kinds of titles you should be searching for? How can you leverage your internship and other professional connections to help?

But, one of the most confusing aspects is the timing: When should you start applying to your first full-time job?

The answer is: Way sooner than you’d probably think (although, you’re not totally screwed if you haven’t started).

When Should You Starting Applying To Your First Full-Time Job?

The answer to this question depends heavily on the industry you’re looking to enter.

If it’s finance, then many of the top programs secure hires through return offers at the end of summer internships. Other hires are made throughout the year, but the hiring process can start as early as the beginning of the academic year. So, if you’re about to be a senior (or a second semester senior), then there really is never too early a time to apply.

This is also true of places like consulting and accounting firms. However, it’s important to note that many of these places extend their candidate search throughout the year. So, don’t be disheartened if you haven’t already kicked off your hunt.

If you’re not in one of these select industries, then chances are you can start looking and applying for full-time jobs during winter break or at the end of the first semester (assuming you graduate in the spring).

Some places, like startups and media companies, hire so few people that they really only do it as needed. If you want to work at one of these places, check out online job postings, and apply. If you’re not seeing anything at a company you really admire, then you should try to get in contact with a university recruiter or early career recruiter at the company. Tell them you’re interested, when you’re graduating, and what you would want to do for them.

It’s Almost Never Too Early

When Should You Apply To Your First Full-Time Job? It's Never Too Early To Start Your Search And Get Applying
This, but in reverse—and about job hunting.

Most entry-level job recruiting cycles work differently than their more senior-level counterparts.

These companies want talent fresh out of college and they understand that the people applying to these entry-level roles most likely will not be available until January or June.  That’s why it’s okay to start applying so soon.

Here are a couple of signs it’s okay to apply for the job early-on (or at any point) in your senior year:

  • It’s an “analyst” or “associate” program that hires a “class” of new graduates every year.
  • It says “looking for class of [your grad year here] graduates.”
  • The job specifically says “entry-level” in the description or somewhere else on the posting—in which case the recruiters know that the coming year of graduates are going to apply.

If the job doesn’t fall underneath any of these categories, then you’re still good to start applying as soon as the end of your first semester. The recruiting process can take months, for all types of roles, so there really is no harm in starting to apply before or during your second semester of senior year.

The biggest lesson here is not to delay—especially if you’re going to need the funds to stay in your preferred city or start a new life somewhere else. Don’t leave the job hunt to one of the busiest (and best) times of your senior year: the end.

Eager to get your start? Try searching for jobs on WayUp.