No Comparison: Here's how industry timelines vary application deadlines
Updated: Sep 28
Do you know normal timelines for recruitment based on your industry preference? When should you start a job or internship search?
Students often ask:
Am I too late to apply to jobs/internships?
I haven’t had any calls yet after I submitted my application, is this normal?
When will job/internships be posted?
When should I start a job/internship search?
My friend already has an internship lined up, should I be applying to positions now too?
When do most ________ majors accept jobs?
How do I know when my target companies will post jobs?
One of the most important things to remember; it’s not fair to compare your timelines to those of classmates, friends, or roommates who are applying to different industries. A graphic design major will not share deadlines with an accounting major, because their industries hire and interview at completely different dates. A student who wants to work in investment banking may have an application deadline in August, but a research student may not accept a summer position until April. Those are wildly different jobs and companies, and thus can’t be compared.
Timelines can vary greatly based on the industry.
Broadly speaking here are some norms:
Common Business deadlines: Sept-Oct
Common Engineering deadlines: Oct-Nov
Common CAS deadlines: limited options in Sept-Oct, more options in March - May
Common grad school deadlines: Dec-Jan
Mass hiring vs as needed hiring
Job and internship deadlines are impacted based on if the company hires regularly for growth and expected attrition or if the company is hiring based on a current and immediate opening that needs to be filled. The difference will determine when they would consider hiring a spring grad, some organizations can’t wait months for you to be available to start and some are pre-planning and expect to accommodate a May/June start date. This equates to which semester companies post their positions on handshake. Those that plan to mass hire will often open jobs in the fall, and those that hire on an “as needed” basis may wait until the spring semester to post jobs.
Popular jobs and competitive industries
Openings for competitive companies or sought after positions often hire in the fall. Large organizations that have well organized internship programs and routinely hire, often start the process in September or October. This is includes well known organizations such as the accounting Big 4, well known brands, TV or broadcasting stations, sports organizations and many others.
Many CAS employers hire on an as needed basis. That means a position that opens in fall, is unlikely to be fill by a May grad which would require the employer to wait 6-9 months until graduation. Its far more common for a CAS employer to hire an intern or recent grad who is available closer to the position start date, making spring applications more numerous and fruitful. Many employers in research, non-profit or social science focus on spring recruitment beginning after the new year but continuing all the way through late May or June. This is especially true if they are waiting to see if funding will be available or are in the process of shaping summer projects, they will wait until they confirm those details before they hire.
Technology based internships and jobs often hire in the fall, since they fall under “business” timelines. Though this greatly varies, depending on what type of company is hiring. For example google and Facebook hire in the fall, but many other smaller companies or positions that do tech work for another industry (healthcare, retail, sales, etc.) may post jobs and internships in the spring.
Recently, many investment banking deadlines have moved earlier than ever. Positions open as early as July and August, and hire a year or more before an internship would begin. Failure to meet these deadlines or make early commitments could result in loss of access to the opportunities.
Get help on Lehigh Connects
A great way to get more specific information on when you could expect jobs or internships to open is to communicate with industry professionals on Lehigh Connects, an alumni mentoring community. There you can browse thousands of profiles to identify a position, company or industry of interest. Communicating with a mentor is a great way to ask questions and get specific information on timelines based on your career interests. Because all of Lehigh Connects mentors have signed up to assist students with questions like this (and many others), this is a great way to collect information and advice you can use to both prepare for your job or internship search and learn timeline norms for your industry.
Example message to send on Lehigh Connects:
Hello (mentor name),
I was reviewing your profile on Lehigh Connects and I am very interested in starting a position similar to yours. As I begin my job search, I was wondering when I could expect to see similar job postings or related positions within (company name) open? Could you walk me through normal timelines to expect during the application and interview process? I want to make sure I am ready and have realistic deadlines in mind.
Get help on LinkedIn
In addition, you can use the Career Insights page on LinkedIn to search profiles filtering by company, academic major, key word or position title. Request to connect and include a note (limited to 300 characters). Be aware, response rates are significantly lower on LinkedIn, and you may expect delays in response times and in many case, no response at all.
Example note to include on connection request on LinkedIn:
Hello from Lehigh University. I was hoping you could help me learn more about X company and the work you do there. I am planning to apply to current/future openings and would value advice on typical timelines I could expect. Would you be available to meet/email with me?
Additional Questions to ask alum to better understand application deadlines and recruitment timelines within specific companies or industries:
Do you know of any positions your company expects to fill in the fall/spring?
Are you aware of common timelines for hiring processes?
When do most new grad receive offers?
How quickly does HR move after an application is submitted?
When are interviews often held?
Are the positions posted now often filled quickly or do they have flexible start dates?
You can also find helpful information by using the Employer Research Quick Guide on Handshake on the Job/Internship tile on the Resource page.