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When to apply for your first “real” job

Posted on: June 11th, 2019

If you’re a first-year student, it might seem like an entire lifetime away, but really, graduation and “adulting” are just around the corner. After that, there’s so much waiting for you just beyond that symbolic toss of the diploma into the air. Your college days will fly by and before you know it, you’ll graduate and embark on a new part of your life—one that hopefully begins with a full-time job. As with any job, be it your first one out of college or a higher-level position several years down the road, you’ll have to apply. This brings to mind an important question – when should you start applying for your first “real” job?

It Depends

The answer to that question will depend on your experience and career interests. The job search process can be lengthy, and, when done right, includes practice interviews, company research and informational interviews, writing and perfecting your resume, and finally, submitting your application. Of course, that’s not including the interview process, but that’s a whole other blog post all together. So give yourself enough time to do it right. Start several months ahead of graduation; by the time you graduate, you’ll either be ready to start your new job or ready to take on the interview process.

Specialized fields and industries

Those who’ve had an internship in specialized industries such as finance, marketing, or analytics, might receive a full-time offer upon completion of their internship and might have a different apply path that’s determined by the employer. For others trying to break into these fields, remember that these industries tend to be more competitive, and firms will hire early to secure the best talent. Applying early for these types of positions might give you a leg up, but check back on their career websites frequently so you don’t miss out on open opportunities.

Hiring classes

Some larger companies have hiring classes, hiring up many college grads all at the same time to go through the orientation and on-boarding together. Do a bit of research in advance to find out the best time to submit your application for these companies. These opportunities can be a great way to kickstart your career, as they build in professional development programs tailored to recent college grads in entry-level positions. (Helpful sidebar: Avenica recruits for these kinds of classes frequently, so if you haven’t already joined our network, now’s a great time. By joining, you’re essentially applying to all the positions Avenica recruits for in your area all at one time. The perfect time to apply for one of our opportunities? Right now. We’re always accepting applications! If we don’t have something perfect for you right now, we’ll keep you in mind should the right opportunity come up).

Start early, be patient

In general, the closer you get to graduation, and of course just after, is best for applying to jobs. If you see an exciting opportunity but are still finishing up your last semester, go ahead and apply for it! Most companies will understand that you won’t be available until you graduate, but they might appreciate your hustle and think you’re worth the wait. However, applying too early in your senior year, when you still have much of the school year left to go, might be a waste of time. Employers usually won’t want to wait quite that long. A month to three months out is plenty of time, since you don’t usually get immediate results and not every opportunity pans out. But just think of it as learning opportunities for you to gain experience and confidence with each application and interview.

Many companies hire on an as-needed basis, so their job postings may be sporadic. If you’re not seeing immediate matches for your skill set, don’t be deterred; job opportunities fluctuate just about as often as fashion trends.

For more than twenty years, Avenica has been the leading U.S. recruiting firm exclusively focused on placing recent college graduates into entry-level, career-track positions. Learn more about our process, or upload your resume to be considered for an open position with one of our amazing clients.