The Recruiting Cycle

The Recruiting Cycle

Understanding the recruiting cycle

The recruiting process is complicated for both companies and students. As recruiters, we plan our on-campus activities in the summer and begin working with students in September. The number of open positions is constantly changing as students are receiving and accepting offers. When I was in management, I would try to find my students as early as possible so I wouldn’t lose the hiring opportunity altogether. It’s like a race between managers to fill the open positions.

As students, you don’t need to understand how the hiring process works inside a company. You just need to focus on making it work best for you and focusing on the better months will be to your advantage.

What is the best time to look for a job?

I would say the best chance to get a job is in October and November. That is when there are the most hiring opportunities available. But as managers fill positions, the number of openings goes down. The second best chance to get a job is between January and early March. There is very little recruiting going on in December and after April. Many students think that only permanent positions are filled in the Fall and summer hiring is done in the Winter. This is true for some companies, but many companies fill both permanent and summer positions at the same time starting in the Fall. I would assume you can talk to a company about summer jobs in October unless they tell you otherwise.

What if you miss that window?

So what happens if you don’t have a job lined up by April? The ball switches over to your court. You have to contact recruiters yourself. It’s a good idea when you are talking to recruiters in the Fall and Winter terms to ask for contact information. A recruiter may formally give it to you or you can just look it up yourself online if you know their name.

Last summer, I had a student contact me because he followed his fiance out to California where she was going to get her PhD. Having settled into their new life, he still needed a job. It was July so I told him we would include him in the Fall hiring and he would have a jump on all of the other students. So he went from no job to first in line just because he knew my contact information.

Sometimes there is a new project that needs staffing and these can occur at any time during the year. This past April, I was contacted by a manager who was staffing up a new project and they wanted students from my university. By April, the problem for me was I no longer knew whether the students I interviewed were still looking for jobs. It’s really hard for me to identify available students so late in the recruiting cycle.

What questions can you ask a recruiter?

When you contact a recruiter, there are many ways to start the conversation. For example, you could say, “I’m just following up to see if you have any current job openings.” Or, “my plans changed, I won’t be taking a summer course and I would like to find a summer job.” Or, “I decided not to attend graduate school, so now I need to find a permanent position.” So if you are still looking for a job in April, take the initiative and contact the recruiters you have met. They may also want to connect with you.

To read more, see my Paperback/Kindle book on

“My Recruiting Secrets for Engineering Students” (Published Sept, 2013)

It all starts with the Resume. A great resume opens the “recruiting door” to Career Fairs and Interviews. This book has three chapters (80 pages) devoted to creating the best BS, MS and Ph.D. resumes. With a great resume, you will exhibit confidence with recruiters at the Career Fair, during a technical or Behavioral Interview, and during your Internship, Co-op, and Full-time job. This book contains over 40 illustrations for the major sections of a well-formatted resume.