How long does a job search take?

The short answer is: it depends. The long answer is: a lot of things come into play in a job search, so it’s hard to come up with an answer that applies to everyone.

People in the industry are saying, on average, it takes a bit over six weeks (or more precisely, 43 days) to find a job. While that may be true, there are a lot of things that can affect the amount of time you need.

State of the economy – this can be a huge factor. Remember 2008? Yeah, we all do. There were things that happened that were completely out of our control. People lost lots of money and many people lost jobs. A lot of those people are under-employed and may still be looking for the right job. If things are down economically, or just down in the industry in which you’re qualified, have a little extra patience; it may take longer.

Competition – because of things like the economy, you may have a lot of competition. There will be many more people applying for that one job that there were 10 years ago. Or is there a particular skill or expertise that is required geographically for your dream job? Keep your resume and your spirits up and keep trying.

The state of your network – work your network! One thing that applies particularly to job seeking is that nearly 80% of jobs are obtained through networking. Someone you know or someone who knows you who knows someone. Build your network and always work it. Don’t wait until you need it, it might not be there.

Think long-term – I know this is easy to say, but try to think long-term when you look for your next job. Where do you want to be in five years? Ten years? Twenty years? There’s a path to get there. In fact there are probably several paths to get there, and those paths will change as you move forward, not to mention those paths will change with the times. However, just taking the next job that comes up just to get a paycheck is not the best course. Taking a part-time job or two, or working as an independent consultant could pay the rent while you continue looking for the job you really want. Need to build or enhance your skill-set? Take the time to do it. It will pay off immediately as well as down the road.

Long hiring processes – can definitely contribute to the time period before you’re actually hired and begin a job. Generally, the more sophisticated the job, the more time it will take. Compare looking for a job in food service or retail to a CFO position in a large corporation. I know that’s an obvious comparison, but you get the idea. And again, generally, the larger the company, the longer the process. They may have to sift through literally hundreds of resumes, then schedule and conduct one or more interviews, with one or more people, and follow very specific guidelines. It takes time to get through that. And while all that—or a version of that—is going on, feel free to follow-up with the companies to which you’ve applied. If they didn’t outline their process and timeline to you, it’s okay to follow-up with them and ask. And always remember to send a thank you note after an interview.

These are all things that contribute to the time it takes to find your dream job. The most important things to remember are to stay positive, put your best foot forward, stay optimistic, and work your network. Actually, we’re going to sound like a real estate agent here: network…network…network.