Searching for a new job can sometimes feel like falling down the rabbit hole. Opportunities are swirling around everywhere, you’re reaching out, you may even be interviewing, but offers aren’t coming in as quickly as you’d like. How long does searching for a job really take?
The quick answer is 8 weeks or so, sometimes longer. Even once you land an interview, 52% of recruiters say the average time-to-hire takes 3 weeks. Overall, you should expect your job search to last anywhere from a few weeks to several months.
When it comes to how quickly you are able to find a job, there are so many variables that can affect your timeline. And some of those are factors outside your control—like the economic state of the country and the amount of jobs available in your field or search area. At the moment, the time it takes to find a new job is increasing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the average duration of unemployment in October 2020 was 21.2 weeks. In May 2020, this number was much closer to the average at just 7.7 weeks.
Factors you can control
Factors you can't control
The amount of time you spend on your search
The current state of the economy
Responding within the first 24 hours of a job post
High numbers of applicants to a certain role
Keeping your certifications up to date and learning new skills with online classes
A highly competitive industry
Applying early and responding quickly to interview requests
Internal delays within the hiring company
Senior positions or a brand new role for a company may take longer as you work your way through interviews with multiple decision makers. Sometimes, your niche may accelerate your search, like companies looking to hire female software engineers because they’re in such demand. If you’re in a competitive industry, it may take longer to find a job because the amount of applicants for each opening is so high. If you don’t strike right after a role is posted, you may be buried in the mix.
Finding a new job takes effort and time, but there are factors you can control that can speed up your search—like polishing up your resume, practicing your interview performance and networking.
Here’s a few things you can do to speed up your job search.
Give your job search a little R+R (+R+R+R)
Feeling stuck in your job search? While you’re not the only one facing a longer-than-normal job search, there are some easy things you can do to speed up your job search and find a new job more quickly.
As you continue reviewing job postings, be flexible. Focus more on finding jobs that use the skills you have versus jobs with the same title you currently have. Think outside your current industry, too. A project manager, for example, can work in marketing as well as in manufacturing. Many of the same skills apply in both roles.
Reset your search parameters to focus less on job titles and more on things like your experience level. If your search feels slow because you’re not seeing roles that feel like the right fit, it might be time to reset your expectations.
Reasons you’re not applying
How to reset your expectations
The requirements include things like software programs or processes I'm not familiar with.
Can you take an online course or read a tutorial on the software’s blog to explain the basics?
They want more/less experience than I currently have.
Unless the salary range is way too low, it can’t hurt to apply to the job and discuss the actual requirements of the role in an interview. You may not be as over- or under-qualified as you think once you better understand the role.
I’ve never worked in this industry before.
Have you done the job role before, or performed many of the same tasks in your current role? Focus on the experience you bring to the role, not the industry you come from.
The schedule/salary/benefits don’t work for me.
Companies are becoming more flexible than ever. If you’re the right fit for the role, companies will be more likely to negotiate with you. If your salary requirement is higher than what’s being offered, ask if there’s flexibility or request a 6-month review instead of an annual review.
Look beyond job listings, too. While we love them (obviously!), nothing prevents you from reaching out directly to a company you have interest in. Even if they don’t have a job opening posted, you can introduce yourself to their hiring manager and let him or her know what type of role you’re looking for, should one open up. You may end up filling a need they haven’t announced publicly yet.
If your search is slow because you’re applying to a lot of jobs but not hearing back, it’s time to refresh your job search assets.
Then, read your resume out loud. Is it a mouthful? If so, it’s time to simplify the statements on your resume.
Review your cover letter and simplify—focus on your top qualities and why you’re a good fit
Run through your “Why Me” statement. Is it stuffed with keywords, or is it a succinct statement about what you do and how you do it?
Ask your network for feedback. Send your resume, “Why Me?” statement and/or cover letter to a few trusted contacts and ask for their honest opinion.
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You’re likely applying to a range of roles, some more strategic and some more execution-focused. Be ready no matter what by having a few versions of your resume and cover letter ready to go at all times.
Customize things like your “Why Me” statement at the top of the resume and your list of skills to match what you’re seeing in the job posts you’re responding to. You don’t need to remove any skills from the list, just rank them in the order that they apply to roles you’re applying to.
You can speed up your job search by thinking like a recruiter. Hiring managers and recruiters often skim cover letters and resumes for keywords and likely spend less than 10 seconds doing so. Make sure that the keywords that are most related to the job are near the top of your resume in your “Why Me” statement and in your cover letter or email.
Make use of formatting like bolding and highlights to point out key phrases. Focus on real results your work has produced, like the number of clients won in a year or the amount of revenue you generated. Think of the performance metrics for the role you’re applying to, and speak like you’re already in the role. If you’ll be responsible for driving new business, share how many clients you onboarded in the past year or how many relationships you managed. If you’ll be leading a team, share your experience leading a team of both onsite and remote employees across departments.
Move beyond your immediate connections and ask around for referrals to friends of friends who know someone who knows someone. Take a look at the company’s LinkedIn profile and see who you’re connected to at the company. Can you ask for a referral to reach out directly to that person? Or, take note of your connections who are posting about new jobs. Where are they being hired? And, does it seem like there’s more opportunities opening up in a certain industry that you might not have considered until now?
The speed of your job search is directly related to the time you put into it. Spend some time each day reviewing job opportunities and apply right away. Most job listings are posted on multiple career sites and receive hundreds of applications. If you’re not near the top of the list, chances are your resume and cover letter won’t be reviewed. And since you have a few versions of your resume and cover letter ready to go, you should be able to quickly apply.
👉 Pay attention to the jobs that disappear then reappear shortly after. It’s possible the company had a candidate in mind who didn’t pan out, and you can strike while the iron is hot.
How long does it take to hear back on a job application?
It can take a couple weeks to hear back on a job application. Chances are, you’re not going to hear back on a lot of the jobs you apply to. This is actually really common.
Don’t take it personally—job listings are often flooded with applicants and if you apply even a few hours after the job is posted, it may simply be too late. It doesn’t hurt to send in your resume (since it’s already prepped and ready to go), but be aware you will rarely hear anything back personally just for applying.
How long does it take to get a job offer?
According to Glassdoor, the average time from an interview to a job offer is 23.8 days. This can feel like an eternity when you’re anxious to get a new job. Use this time wisely to continue applying to other jobs, following up on other interviews you’ve had and continuing to stay in the job search game.
What To Do While You Wait for a Job Offer
☑️ Write a post-interview thank you note ☑️ Continue applying to similar positions ☑️ Take an online course to gain a new skill ☑️ Practice your responses to common interview questions
Remember, the average job search takes weeks. And there are many factors outside of your control that can impact how long it takes you to find a job. Job searching in uncertain economic times, for example, is bound to take longer than when the economy is booming and companies are on hiring sprees. Be patient, do the work and commit to the process. You’ll find a job that fits your lifestyle best, even if it takes a bit longer.
Tried Everything in Your Job Search? Here's What's Next
Career coach Melisa Liberman discusses what to do when you feel like you’ve done everything in your job search.
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