How Long Does It Take To Find a Job?

By Indeed Editorial Team

June 14, 2021

Many factors influence how long it takes to find a job, so it is important to consider your unique situation when creating a timeline for finding employment. Informed research can help keep you from applying for jobs too early and being unable to accept them because you're not available, or applying too late and spending time unemployed. In this article, we discuss how long it takes to find a job based on different situations.

Related: How Long Should You Wait to Hear Back About a Job?

How long does it take to find a job?

The amount of time it takes to find a job can vary based on experience, demand and timing. Some people with in-demand skills may get a job within a few days of looking, while others might stay unemployed for several months without getting an interview.

While the time it takes to secure a job will vary based on several factors, U.S. unemployment data from the BLS shows that the median unemployment duration in May 2021 was 19.3 weeks, or about 5 months. This includes all unemployed people, however, not only those who are actively looking and applying for jobs. The state of the economy and your personal circumstances are also both essential in understanding how long you might be searching for a job. For example, you might have an existing full-time job or other personal commitments that limit your ability to complete job searching activities quickly.

One of the ways to estimate how long it could take to find a job is to look at the unemployment rate in your field to determine the demand for your skill set.

Here are the unemployment rates by industry in May 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • Mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction: 9.6%

  • Construction: 6.7%

  • Manufacturing: 4.8%

  • Retail and wholesale trade: 6.6%

  • Transportation and utilities: 7.2%

  • Information: 5.8%

  • Financial activities: 3.0%

  • Business services: 5.4%

  • Education and healthcare: 3.4%

  • Leisure and hospitality: 10.1%

  • Government workers: 2.2%

What factors influence the length of a job search?

Even understanding the average demand for jobs in your field still only provides a limited perspective on the length of your job search. When searching for a job, aim to set realistic goals so that you can stay motivated and use appropriate job searching strategies. Think about how all of the different aspects of your job search interact with one another and what you can do to get a job sooner.

Here are some of the main factors that can influence how long it takes for you to find a job:

  • Economic conditions

  • Location

  • Experience

  • Flexibility

  • Length of unemployment

  • Quality of materials

  • Job search methods

  • Professional network

  • Other professional and personal commitments

Economic conditions

The local and national economy have a large impact on how long it will take you to find a job. Finding a job during a recession will take much longer than finding work in a booming economy. Economic conditions can also influence the types of jobs that are available, as people spend more of their money on necessities and less on leisure or luxury items.

Location

Some areas have more competitive job markets than others, and big cities will generally have more jobs available than small towns in rural areas. People who only look for jobs in a small radius will probably have fewer job opportunities than those who look at multiple cities or even multiple states for work. Think about what kind of commute you are willing to make and the transportation options available to you. Considering remote work or relocating can also open up job opportunities based on location and speed up your job search.

Related: Interview Question: "Are You Willing to Relocate?"

Experience

Since higher-level jobs are generally more competitive, people with experience at the executive level may have a longer job search than people looking for an entry-level position. Highly experienced people within the same field compete for only a few senior positions and may be over-qualified when applying for mid-level positions. Experience in a niche field that doesn't transfer to other positions can also be a barrier to finding a job quickly.

Flexibility

Ultimately, the more flexible you are with what kind of job you will take and where you will work, the faster the job search will go. Some people avoid taking jobs that are not in their exact field, but it can be wise to take lower-level jobs to fill in the gaps in your resume while searching for other employment. Having strict standards for what job you will apply for and accept could increase the amount of time it takes to find a job that fits those requirements, get an interview and receive a job offer.

Length of unemployment

Generally, the longer someone is unemployed, the harder it will be for them to find work. Employers often have a bias against large gaps on a resume, and long-term unemployment can make them second-guess your qualifications. You can combat this by doing things to keep your experience current, such as working on personal projects, volunteering or taking relevant coursework between jobs.

Quality of materials

Having quality application materials can significantly speed up the duration of your job search. Simple mistakes like grammatical errors or poor formatting can influence a potential employer to overlook your application. Tailoring your resume and cover letter to each job can also increase your chances of getting an interview and getting hired. Your application materials should highlight your best qualities and equate your experience with a valuable skill set.

Job search methods

The strategies and methods you use to find and apply for jobs can help speed up the process of getting hired. Apply for a high number of jobs regularly to increase your visibility on the job market, and use a variety of job boards and career sites. You may also be interested in using a job placement service or reaching out to recruiters.

Read more: Guide: Using Indeed.com Job Search

Professional network

Many people find jobs through their professional and personal network by getting a referral or recommendation. Reaching out to your professional network can help you find leads and stand out among other applicants. Expanding your professional network can increase your chances of connecting with a great job opportunity. Having people who can vouch for your skills and expertise can help potential employers see you as a serious candidate with trusted qualifications.

How to find a job faster

You can find a job faster by following these steps:

  1. Proofread your general resume and cover letter.

  2. Update your social media.

  3. Send out applications regularly.

  4. Contact companies directly.

  5. Adjust your expectations.

  6. Ask for feedback.

  7. Improve your skills.

1. Proofread your general resume and cover letter

First, thoroughly proofread your resume and cover letter. Although the best applications target a specific job, you should have a strong general resume that you can make small modifications to instead of rewriting a resume for each position. Include common keywords related to the job you are applying for to attract employers on job sites and connect you with the most relevant opportunities based on your experience.

2. Update your social media

Use your professional social media pages to advertise that you are on the market for a new job. Social media is a great way to use your network to find a job. Upload your resume onto job boards and seek out connections with other people who work in your field as a way to attract the attention of employers.

3. Send out applications regularly

Keep a steady pace of sending out applications every day to remain active in the job market and increase your chances of finding a job. Try different strategies to reach a variety of employers and make adjustments to your applications to keep your qualifications relevant. Maintaining a positive attitude and staying motivated in your job search is essential for finding a job, especially in a tough job market or a highly competitive field.

4. Contact companies directly

You don't have to wait for a company to post an open position to let them know you are interested in a job. If there are any particular organizations you would like to work with, write them a note with a copy of your resume inquiring about open positions. Even if they don't have any open positions, they may consider you for future opportunities.

5. Adjust your expectations

You can find a job faster by looking for jobs outside of your field or considering part-time work while you seek out a full-time position. Try to set reasonable expectations and be open to opportunities, even if they aren't your dream job. Consider all options that can help you get a job within the time frame you need.

6. Ask for feedback

If it's taking longer than you would like to find a new job, consider asking a trusted mentor or friend to look at your application materials and make suggestions. If you have been able to interview, you can ask your interviewer for feedback and gain valuable insight into how you can improve your chances of getting the next job you apply for.

7. Improve your skills

Gaining qualifications to make your resume more competitive and meet the demands of the market can speed up the job search process. If you notice that many different employers are looking for a certain skill in your line of work, take a class or gain a certification that shows your expertise in that area. To learn more about certifications available in your industry and where to earn them, visit Indeed Certificaitons.

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