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When Should College Students Apply For Jobs? (And How To Get Hired)

When Should College Students Apply For Jobs? (And How To Get Hired)

In Q&A #9, we’ll look at the question “When should college students apply for jobs?”.

Also check out 6 tips for getting a good job before you graduate.



When should college students apply for jobs?

You should begin applying for jobs right after your second to last semester ends. For most of you, that’s during winter break of your senior year.

While 5 months before graduation may seem early, it’s never too soon to start painting a picture of post-college life.

The truth is that most college students will wait until April or May to even think about it. By then, many good jobs will be spoken for. In this scenario, it’s better to be first to the party and a little early than to be the one walking in late.


Key #1: Decide how you’ll market yourself.

A mistake most college students make is trying to be too broad with their job search.

Yes, I understand you’d take any decent paying job that’s semi-relevant to your major. But that’s not the point.

You’ll stand out among other applicants if you simply market yourself to the job you want.

Take an hour to research all the entry-level jobs available to people with your degree. Pick 2-3 of those options, then craft a resume that paints you as an ideal candidate for that job.

Maybe your career, like mine, only has one option. Education degree = teaching job. In that case, skip this step.

Most managers don’t expect young people to think this far ahead, so a little bit of extra work will go a long way.

Key #2: Write multiple rock-solid resumes.

Your resume should be a positive reflection of everything you’ve done the past 4 years.

If you’re really lost, here are some ideas for your resume:

  • College attended and degree obtained (written as “Anticipated: Spring 2019“, or whatever year it is)
  • Honors, accolades, or scholarships you’ve received
  • Clubs or extracurricular activities
  • Personal achievements and anything else that helps you stand out

In Q&A 2, I recommended you create a 2018-appropriate resume. You’ll want an updated resume clickable links to LinkedIn and any of your online work. If you’re in a creative field, don’t apply to any jobs without an updated online portfolio.

Key #3: Make it a routine.

Look for a job the same way you approach your classes. Like studying and going to class, make it a part of your daily routine.

30 minutes in the morning or before bed will add up quickly. Be consistent and you’ll be surprised.

get hired before graduation

Getting Hired Before You Graduate College

During my last semester of college, I made an effort to get to school 45 minutes early. This time was to be used solely for finding a job.

After one week of putting together a resume, I used that 45-minute block each morning to scour job sites and send my info to prospective employers. And guess what?

It took 2 days to get an interview. And a week later, I accepted my first (and only) job offer.

I finished student teaching, then moved from Massachusetts to Colorado. This was where I’d teach middle school physical education for the next 4 years.


Find a way to stand out.

I wanted to move out of Massachusetts but was afraid I’d be just a piece of paper to employers out-of-state, so I created a 3-minute video resume.

Uploaded to YouTube, that video showcased my teaching skills and clips of the camp jobs I had worked  in college. The link to this video was put at the top of every cover letter I sent.

When I met my boss in person for the first time, she explicitly told me she hired me because of that video. She said it was something she’d never forget.

There’s something you can do to not be just another piece of paper. You’re already at an advantage because you’re applying to jobs early. Now just figure out how you want to stand out and get to work. 🙂

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