One of the toughest parts of job searching is not knowing how long it will take.
This is especially difficult to cope with after being laid off, or when looking for your first job as a recent college graduate.
So after years of working as a recruiter, I’m going to share the average job search times I’ve observed, including:
It typically takes two to six months to complete a job search, and sometimes longer for leadership positions. The time required to find a job will vary depending on factors including the strength of the overall economy, the strength of your industry, the number of jobs in your city or region, and your job search strategy and efforts.
My overall recommendation is: Expect six months… not because it always takes this long, but because I want you to be prepared for the possibility of it taking this long. That way, if you get hired sooner, it will be a pleasant surprise.
That’s what I tell people when they ask me, “how long does it take to find a job usually?”
You can absolutely get hired in one or two months (networking in your job search is one great way!). I don’t want you to read this and get discouraged. But I want to share realistic info here and not inflate your expectations!
And coming up in this article, I’ll share some more tips on how to get hired as fast as possible.
If you’re looking for a more specific number based on your level and position, there’s a well-known saying that you can expect your job search to take one month for every $10,000 you’re going to earn. So if you’re applying for jobs that pay $50,000, you can expect it to take approximately five months to find a job.
This isn’t 100% accurate but can help you get a sense of what to expect based on your position. Your job search could take less time than this guideline says if you’re in a highly-paid individual contributor position. For example, a Data Scientist who earns $140,000 is unlikely to need 14 months, especially if they’re in a city with many tech jobs like Austin or San Francisco.
You can expect it to take three to six months to find a job after a layoff, on average. This figure will vary depending on the health of your industry and the economy overall, though. If you were laid off due to company-specific reasons, then it may only take two to three months to find a position. However, if you were laid off because of an industry-wide issue or economic recession, it may take six months or longer.
You can reduce this time, however, by looking to pivot into an industry that’s healthier and doing more hiring. For example, if you were a Project Manager for a tourism company and the tourism industry has had many layoffs recently, you could transfer into tech, healthcare, or another stronger industry.
The amount of time it takes to find a job after being laid off is also going to depend on YOU. Are you networking and being proactive, and tailoring your resume for each job you apply for? Or are you waiting for a recruiter to come help you, sending the same resume to every job opening, and only applying for positions through job search websites instead of networking?
While you can’t control layoffs, you can control your own job search effort, and that can make a big difference. Coming up soon in this article, I’ll share more resources to help you shorten how long it takes to find work after a layoff.
Overall, it can take anywhere from two weeks to more than six months to find a job after college. The exact timing will depend on what industry you’re job searching in, where you live, what college degree you earned, and how much you’ve networked and prepared for your job search prior to graduation.
We’ll look at these factors below so you can get a better estimate of how long YOUR job search will take after graduating.
First, the strength and health of your industry are important. So try to apply to strong, profitable industries that are hiring a lot of people!
The next major factor is whether your college degree leads directly to a field of work. In my experience, entry-level job seekers who chose a major like Nursing, Computer Science, Accounting, etc. These all lead to specific types of jobs and careers.
However, if you majored in something a bit less job-related, like English, History, or Literature, then it may take longer to find a position because you’ll be competing with a variety of job seekers with many different degrees and backgrounds.
And finally, the next big factor that has an impact on how long it takes to find a job after college: How much effort you put into preparing. For example, if you’ve talked to professors and classmates, joined clubs at school, completed one or two internships, and prepared a great entry level resume, you may be able to get a job offer before graduation.
However, if you haven’t done this type of preparation ahead of time, then it could take longer. Don’t get discouraged if you didn’t prepare yet, though. In the next section, I’ll share a few job search resources to SPEED UP your job search and get you hired faster.
First, if you’re not getting interviews, then you should focus on your resume. Your resume has one goal: To get you interviews. So until you’re getting job interviews, this is what to focus on.
You should “tailor” your resume for the type of job you want. Study their job description and make your resume as similar as possible – keywords, skills, and more.
And if you don’t know what type of job you want and are just applying for all sorts of positions, I’d recommend slowing down and thinking about what type of job you really want.
Employers prefer to hire someone who has a passion and interest in their type of work, their industry, their products, etc. They’re always going to choose the person who can name specific reasons why they applied for the position, and who can clearly explain what they’re looking for in their next position.
If you’re only applying online, it could be one of the reasons why you can’t find a job. Most jobs are filled by referral or by a recommendation from someone who the hiring manager knows, so networking can be your “secret weapon” in your job hunt.
Talk to professors, classmates, your university career center, and other people who you think could help you find opportunities. It all starts with asking.
And before applying online for a role, look on LinkedIn to see if you have some type of connection to the company or hiring manager. If so, approach that person individually (online or in-person).
That’s just one of many reasons to be using LinkedIn. So if you’re not already, I’d recommend you start. Hiring managers also check your LinkedIn quite often even if you applied via a different method. And they’ll be a lot more impressed if you’ve got a good-looking profile.
This article has more info to help you get job interviews: The 3 best ways to find jobs
Next, once you get interviews lined up, make sure you’re ready to “wow” the hiring manager.
Here are a couple of additional resources to help you prepare:
On average, you can expect to start working two weeks after being hired. If in doubt, it’s best to ask the employer directly, though. After accepting a job offer, you should discuss the start date so that both parties know exactly when you’ll begin working. If this hasn’t been discussed yet, you can call or email them to ask.
If you’ve been job searching after a layoff, it’s okay to tell the hiring manager that you’re available to start immediately. But you never want to sound pushy or desperate. So if they tell you that it’s best for you to start in two weeks, I’d recommend accepting that.
If you read everything above, you now know how long it will take to find work after a layoff, after graduating from college, and other common scenarios.
And most importantly – you also know how to REDUCE this time and get hired faster.
The times I shared are just guidelines or averages for how long it takes to get a job, and one of the biggest factors is your effort as a job seeker.
Two people could get very different results depending on how they’re preparing for the interview, whether they’re networking or not, etc.
So make sure to study the strategies and resources that I shared on networking, interviews, and more throughout this article.
If you do this, you’ll have a big advantage when it comes to getting back to work… whether you’re trying to find work after being laid off, trying to land your first job after college, or simply trying to find the next move in your career.
Biron Clark is a former executive recruiter who has worked individually with hundreds of job seekers, reviewed thousands of resumes and LinkedIn profiles, and recruited for top venture-backed startups and Fortune 500 companies. He has been advising job seekers since 2012 to think differently in their job search and land high-paying, competitive positions.
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