How Long Will My Job Search Take?
I am often asked, “How long will my job search take?”
My answer is almost always, “It depends.”
I work, primarily, with those in the 2nd half of life—which is code for those over 50 years of age.
I tell them that a really short job search is three months. It takes almost three months for a company to decide to hire someone, post the job, interview candidates, make an offer, and then make the hire.
What factors affect how long the job search will take?
- Depth of experience and perceived salary requirements
- Your network
- Geographical demand for your skills
- Time of year
- Age discrimination
Depth of experience and perceived salary requirements
The more experience you have and the greater perceived salary requirements, the longer it will take. Notice I wrote perceived salary requirements. Yes, I know you say you will take less money but…no one will believe you!
The reality is, the higher the perceived salary requirements, the fewer and fewer jobs there will be. After you get over a 6 figure income, the number of jobs decreases in most job markets.
Please read my post Will I Ever Be Employed Again in a Job I Want? This is the story of Matt, a former CEO who went almost 3 years underemployed because of the perceived salary requirements. The more money you make the longer the job search will take.
Your next job will likely come through a referral. That referral will come from one of three several types of relationships:
- An existing relationship
- A stale relationship that you will re-energize, which is also called a weak tie
- A new relationship you strategically create
If you follow the Target Job Search Strategy you will be strategically building a referral network.The stronger your network the shorter your job search.
Geographical demand for your skills
Are your skills valued in your local job market? For example, if you have an oil and gas background and you are looking for a position in Central Texas, where I live, well…it will be a tough and long job search. However, if you move to Houston, you will find your skills much more valued.
If you have a certification, is it valued in your local market? The varies greatly by region!
If your skills or credentials are in overabundance or are not valued in your local region, you need to extend the length of your job search or expand your geographical search zone.
Look for people who look, taste, and smell like you to determine whether your skills are in demand. Search LinkedIn for people with your level of experience, certification, and skills to determine the demand in your region. Who employs people who look, taste and smell like you?
Time of year
Like every other business process, hiring goes through cycles. A lot of hiring occurs after annual budgets are approved. Look at financial statements of each target company on your target list and determine when the fiscal year begins. Some companies start their fiscal year in October and others start in January.
Hiring usually stops from late November through the middle of January. This is an excellent time to network and build your tribe, but little hiring occurs during this time.
Similarly, hiring slows down (but does not stop) during July and August when many people go on vacation. It only takes one person in the hiring process to go on vacation for everything to grind to a halt.
I highly recommend you follow your local business journal. If a company gets a big order, funding from a venture capital firm, investment from private equity or received a local or federal grant, this is the time pursue the target company. These kinds of investments will follow a calendar cycle and you need to track when each kind of investment tends to come in the calendar year.
Age discrimination is alive and well. You need to factor this into the length of your job search. You have to be realistic and find employers who value your skills and experience and will not discriminate based on your age. I am working with a client right now who is part of the long-term unemployed cohort, and she is targeting government positions. For her, it is a numbers game, but she will be treated fairly in applying for government positions.
For those of you in the 2nd half of life, are your skills and age a barrier? I live in Austin Texas, one of the worst places to be old and unemployed as documented by the Atlantic. Austin has a general unemployment rate hovering just above 3% but the unemployment rate for those over 50 years of age exceeds 12%. Even if your skills are in high demand, being over 50 will increase the length of your job search.
So how long will my job search take?
I tell my clients to plan for a minimum of 6 months to 2 years. If you are employed, it really depends on the amount of time you can dedicate to the job search. If you follow my Target Job Search Strategy, you should plan on starting your job search 18 months after you start a new job and plan on that search taking 18 months. That means you will be prepared to changed jobs every 3 years. That does not mean you will change jobs every 3 years, BUT you will be prepared to do so.
If you follow the strategy that jobs are never permanent and you always are looking for your next position, your job search will be much shorter should you become unemployed.
How long do you expect your job search to take?Marc Miller
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Deborah Mitchell says
I think this post hits on a lot of key points. When I lost my job as a television producer it took 3 years to land another one. In the meantime,I started a company and sharpened my skill sets. Reinventing yourself for the workforce is not easy but doable. I was just featured in this month’s Essence Magazine all along with several other worn over 50. Here is the link to the article–
published here: http://www.essence.com/2014/10/20/3rd-act,
Congratulations on your success and getting your story told!
Terre Leveton says
I was searching for a position that was a good fit for nearly two and a half years. I am a clinic administrator. I was offered three positions during that time that were either at ridiculously low salaries or entry level positions, which I elected not to accept. But I have now found one that seems to fit well. I did lower my pay for the first two months, with the agreement it would go up at that time.
I would suggest to the other EXPERIENCED people, and I am 67, decide on the positions you are willing to accept and in which fields, and concentrate on those. Be persistent. I found my best options came from referrals and Craigs List. Agencies were useless, and I went on every interview that came up and replied to every ad that was close to what I wanted.
Even the position I took was listed as a front desk and biller, when in fact it was an office manager. I found several opportunities like that. Don’t eliminate jobs without apolying; you never know. I was often referred to another job from the one I applied for.
The most important thing you said was “Be persistent”. Yes referrals are golden!
LaTosha Williams says
Great Article! Recently, I relocated to a larger city and I was discouraged by the amount of time it has taken (5 months) for me to find employment. I am going to take your advice and network!!! Thank you for sharing
It really is who you know!!
So true. Especially the obnoxious perceived salary expectation obstacle. It strikes me as incredibly arrogant and narrow minded but that indeed is the true nature of the beast. Where does this mentality come from?
The salary expectation is based on human nature. We like to move forward and not backward. If you take a job for less money, it is perceived that you will leave later if someone offers you more. This was a huge issue for Matt in this post https://careerpivot.com/2017/will-ever-employed-again/
Should you take a job that is lower than your most current salary? Just to have a job? But keep looking?
That is “that depends” answer.
Most of the time people will not hire you at a lower salary because you will not stay. If you can get hired the next question will you have the time and energy to properly run a job search campaign?
I have seen people take service-oriented sales jobs and be exhausted at the end of the day. The get stuck in a dead end job.