Recruitment for Big Banks Earlier than Ever

If you’re a current student interested in the fields of consulting, finance, investment banking, or any other business fields associated with big banks, you’re probably currently in a whirlwind of applications, information sessions, networking dinners, and various other meet and greets. The catch? This is all for a position that you won’t actually potentially be working for another 14 months. This is all because of the big banks moving up their recruitment and application cycles for summer 2019 positions, which is the earliest they have ever been.

It has been almost across the board that big banks have all moved up their recruitment period, including names like JP Morgan, Wells Fargo, Citi, Morgan Stanley, Goldman, and many other of the top companies in the financial industry. This had been a noticeable trend, the increasingly earlier and earlier timing that these banks start receiving applications and reaching out to students on campus visits.

A few year ago this process would have occurred in the fall before the summer the candidate was meant to be hired during. It gradually moved to the summer prior to the summer of the potential internship, and now we have finally reached recruitment when it is barely spring, and students have yet to even begin their internships for the coming summer itself.

To understand why banks are making these earlier and earlier pushes, it is important to understand just how this benefits the banks themselves; it comes down to their extremely competitive nature and the resulting need to recruit the brightest minds to their companies. To do this, each company tries to obtain some type of “leg up” on another, and the easiest way to do this is to get their brand out to potential candidates before other banks even have the chance. Unfortunately, this creates a domino effect. Once one bank pushes their recruitment up, another follows, and before you know it, you have to apply to 12 different places for a job in summer 2019 before it is even May 2018.

But it is undoubtedly the case that these earlier deadlines put a new level of stress on students and candidates, and I believe could certainly put a negative impact on their applications and recruitment process as well. Not only are students in the middle of their busy semesters, with so many other obligations to classes and to extracurriculars, but beyond that, students have not even had a chance to experience their current summer internships.

And the idea of having to decide what you want to do over a year in advance makes huge assumptions about the stability of the situation someone's life is in, assuming they will have no change in interest or change in stability. Students can apply to something and get hired in the early summer, and by the end of the summer find something that appeals to them more or their more interested in working with. A lot can change in a year, and it’s hard to sign a binding contract like this so far in advance.

It’s astounding to think how much the hiring process has changed even in the last five years, and it is even more fascinating to think about where it can go from here. I don’t think it’s likely recruitment will get any earlier than this, but there can always be surprises in store. And to those applying in this cycle, I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors.