The Job Search Timeline for College Students

by Suzanne Taylor

Future College Students

In order to maximize post-grad job opportunities, college students should really start planning for their job search during their first year. What work, classes, or extracurricular experiences will fill out your resume? What kinds of jobs do you want to apply for, and how can you prepare yourself to be a competitive candidate?

For detailed information, see WorkBloom’s article on 10 Ways to Prepare for the Job Search While You Are Still in College. When talking about the starting the actual job search, that timeline depends on what type of job you’re seeking and when you’re graduating:

Spring/Summer Graduates

Most large companies (think: Target, Wells Fargo, Google) recruit on campus for full-time positions in the fall semester. So, your job search timeline starts a full 12 months prior to graduation in order to make sure you don’t miss any potential opportunities.


  • Extensively research careers and review job postings to see what types of positions you are interested in and qualified for. Additionally, start identifying companies or types of companies that you want to work for. These two steps will help you maximize the fall recruiting season because you’ve already focused your search on specific jobs, locations, industries, or companies.
  • Make sure your resume is in tip-top shape. Have your resume reviewed by your university career center (many even offer virtual reviews) or seek out other resources for resume writing and formatting. You want to have printed copies on hand for employers at fall events, so this is something you can do in advance to make the fall semester less stressful.
  • Make sure you have a few business professional outfits ready for the recruitment season. Now is the time to go shopping for well-fitting suits, dresses, and blazers so that you are ready to attend events in the fall.


  • Some industries, like accounting, tend to host networking and/or interviewing events as early as August. So, it’s a good idea to review your career center’s calendar of events to make sure you have everything on your radar before the semester starts.
  • Once the fall semester starts, employers will begin hosting information sessions on campus. This is a chance for them to tell you about their company and the internships/job opportunities they have for students. It’s also an easy way for you to connect with a hiring representative and demonstrate your interest in the company.
  • Some companies will start opening job applications on their website, so if you have specific employers in mind, make sure to check their careers webpage regularly.


  • Campus recruiting is in full force, particularly with career fairs. Check with your university career center to see when the fair will happen and what employers will be there. It’s a good idea to have a career fair “game plan” in order to maximize your time at the event.
  • Employers will continue to host other on-campus events, like information sessions or networking nights. You should also look for virtual events that companies host!


  • Employers continue informational sessions/career events, and some will conduct on-campus interviews.
  • Make sure to submit your job applications online through the company website by published deadlines!


  • On-campus recruiting starts dying down, and employers invite final candidates to interview at the company site.
  • Some initial job offers may start going out, depending on the company.


  • Many large companies send job offers out, then recruiting quiets over the holidays.
If you didn’t get an offer during the fall recruiting cycle – don’t fret. The recruiting cycle starts again in the spring semester, particularly for small- and medium-sized businesses, nonprofit organizations, and public agencies.


  • Most colleges host a spring career fair during this time, and employers may host information sessions on-campus as well. Don’t be surprised if there are less events in the spring – many large companies have already filled most of their positions, and smaller organizations may not have the resources to host events at college campuses.
  • Check your career center’s job board and other online job boards weekly, if not daily.
  • Submit applications! The recruiting timeline is not as fixed as it is in the fall, so make sure you are on top of deadlines. It’s common to submit 30, 40, 50 (or more) job applications during this process.


  • Many companies are interviewing candidates and extending job offers.
  • However…it’s perfectly normal to continue job searching up until and beyond graduation!

Fall/Winter Graduates

If you graduate in the fall term, the above recruiting cycle doesn’t necessarily apply to you. However, if you’re interested in working for a large corporation, it’s actually a smart strategy to follow the aforementioned cycle to apply for internship programs. You then intern during the summer and have the opportunity to turn your summer internship into a full-time offer just a few months later.

If you’re not interested in the internship long game, then your timeline will probably look more like a traditional job search:


  • Prepare your resume and begin identifying what types of jobs you want to apply for.


  • Start actively searching for and applying to job openings. Companies hire year-round as positions become available and typically want new employees to start right away. So, you really don’t want to start applying more than 3-4 months in advance because you won’t be able to start working yet.
  • Peruse the rest of our job search articles to get ideas of how to network with employers and find jobs to apply for.


  • Continue actively applying for jobs, and you will hopefully start interviewing with employers as well. It’s common to submit dozens of job applications, and it’s also common to send applications out and never hear from the employer. Don’t get discouraged! Keep sending quality applications out to jobs you’re actually interested in.

December (and beyond)

  • It’s perfectly normal to continue job searching up until and beyond graduation. Again, companies hire year-round, so more jobs will continue to open in the months following!
No matter when you graduate, it’s important to be patient and resilient in the job search.  It is a marathon, not a sprint. Please check out all of WorkBloom’s other job search resources for soon-to-be graduates!

Become a Contributor

We are always on the lookout for good writers. If you are a resume writer, career coach or human resources professional and would like to contribute, please get in touch and earn your badge!

WorkBloom Badge