When should I start looking for a job when I'm a senior in college?
Soon! The sooner the better. In fact, you could even lay the groundwork ahead of time as a sophomore or a junior.
Your school should have career fairs or functions where businesses send representatives to scout talent at your school and exchange cards. Go to those. The whole purpose is that companies want to higher college grads -- they're doing the same thing you are. They want to make connections early so they can plan hires into their calendar.
If you don't like the school-wide events, talk to your academic advisor or a counselor within your department. Businesses usually have tie-ins with certain departments--sometimes it's for research, sometimes as a pipeline for internships, but one purpose is so they can establish a link to a future labor pool. So you have options.
You can prepare yourself early, too. Build a resumé and a cover letter for the jobs you want (and tailor them to specific companies, too; you don't have to create a cookie-cutter resumé--make multiples, go ahead and highlight specific skills that match specific companies). You can find templates online, but if your school offers a workshop on how to write one, go to that. Those two things are your "handshake" with your prospective employer and will determine if they grant you an interview or not. Start those now of you haven't.
But start early. Go to the fairs, talk to your advisors, and just open yourself up to job offers. You may be surprised what jobs are out there--you may not know that job even existed, but it may be the one for you.
Good luck! Hope it helps.
Hi Devetra: The actual search can begin around March for a May graduation. Your college may even have a job fair near that time (March or April) when employers come to campus to recruit new graduates as their ideal candidate. Before then, around January of your senior year, create your LinkedIn account and have it reviewed for clarity. Also, update your resume with all extracurricular activities in college especially study abroad, leadership positions, and skills and classes directly related to the job you seek. Include volunteering, clubs and organizations, and internships. Have your reference page set in January as well, never know when an opportunity will arrive so the resume and references are necessary well in advance. Good luck with the search!
Lashay recommends the following next steps:
One of the things you might consider is that you can start to make connections and network while you're studying. My first job in college was working in the IT department at a computer company. From there I went to IBM in Poughkeepsie at their high-performance computing installation. My experience there helped me get a job at Bell Laboratories. You should also start attending job fairs and looking for Co-Op and Intern positions. It puts you at the top of the list for getting a job at any company and often starting at a higher salary, due to your experience at that company. Finally, it will tell you if that particular company and that field are good fits for you. In any case, you can't lose.
This is going to depend a lot on your major. The recruiting timelines differ between industries, but I would recommend starting early. You'll want to have your resume and cover letters ready to go by the time you start applying to jobs and this process can take a while. It's also a good idea to build relationships with professionals in your intended field, and this is also a very time consuming process. Starting early in the fall could be a good time, but again, it will depend on your industry. Things like business and engineering will start very early in the fall, where jobs in marketing, communications, and others are more on an as-needed basis, but can pop up throughout the year. Another reason to start early is because not all companies follow the normal timelines, so by waiting, you could miss out on a great opportunity if the company recruits in the fall, when most in their industry recruits in the spring.