One of the number one questions I hear from job seekers is, “How long should my job search really take?” It’s a good question. Knowing what’s “normal” can help you to know whether you’re winning or losing at this game we call the job search.
Unfortunately, there’s no normal. Some job offers show up in days. Others may take months. And for a few, it can take a year or more.
If you’re feeling frustrated by your job search timing, there are a few things to keep in mind. For example, is this the first time that you have proactively looked for a new job? When you look back through your resume, think about how you landed each job. Did you find your past jobs, or did they find you? For many people, jobs have landed in their laps over the years. At some point, they begin to want to take a more proactive approach and start searching on their own instead of waiting. Although this proactive search is preferred, it’s also more time consuming.
Are you changing industries or job functions? If you are switching from a for-profit to a non-profit, or from technology to marketing (for example), your search is likely to take longer. When you’re transitioning from one job to another very similar job, it’s easy for the hiring manager to see how your skills fit into their organization. But, when you make a big switch, you’ve got to find an open minded hiring manager. They’ll need to be someone who is open minded, who believes in you, and is willing to take a risk on you. This will take time.
Is your job function unique, and are you highly compensated? The higher you go up the company ladder, the fewer number of jobs are available. The more you make, the smaller your pool of options is. If you’ve been at the same company for a long period of time, you may not think about this at first. Perhaps you started at an entry level job and worked your way up. When you were hired in, finding a job was easy. You were at the bottom of the pay scale and there were many roles for your job function. But, after receiving promotions, the number of available jobs shrinks. So, finding a new job on the outside will take longer than you remember.
Do you need to stay in a specific location, or are there other constraints on your search? Requirements are a good thing to have. They help you to target the right opportunities. But, the more targeted you become, the harder it is to find a job that meets your specific needs. And, the harder it is to find a job, the longer it will take to land it.
When you’re looking for a new job, remember that it’s not the same search you did years ago. Therefore, the time it takes will be different. Focus more on your search rather than the perfect timing.
Angela Copeland is a Career Coach and Founder of Copeland Coaching and can be reached at CopelandCoaching.com or on Twitter at @CopelandCoach.