If you’ve been recently unemployed, there’s unfortunately no magic formula to predict how long it will take to land a new job. There are just too many factors in play, including the economy, the job market, your own personal motivation, etc. One study says in today’s job market the average length of time between jobs is five months, but I think that number is useless because the extremes are too far apart. On one side, there are people who get re-hired in a week or less; on the other, some people may remain unemployed for a year or longer.
That said, I do find an interesting pattern when someone complains to me that their job search is taking too long. The first question I like to ask is, “How many hours a week are you spending on the job search?”
The answer to that question usually tells me why it’s “taking so long.”
The average unemployed person spends less than 10 hours per week looking for a job. In today’s competitive market, that’s not really a job search. That’s a vacation. If you’re going to be serious about it, experts say you should be spending between 30-40 hours per week on the job hunt.
In other words, until you get hired, the job search IS your job.
This actually makes sense for two reasons. One—what else are you going to do with all that time? And two—landing a good position requires some effort. It’s going to take much more than just scouring the Internet for job leads. (If you did that for 8 hours a day, you’d probably go crosseyed.) It’s a whole lot of other tasks, from chasing down leads to working on your resume to networking to scheduling interviews. An effective career search involves all these things and more, and you really need those 30-40 hours to get them all done properly.
So…if you want to take your job search to the “full-time” level, what does that look like? Here are some tips to boost your engines:
- Utilize all options in your job search. If all you’re doing is searching one online site every day, your job search will probably last all of five minutes. Get yourself a longer list of relevant job sites and schedule adequate time to go over them and send in resumes. If a friend hands you a job lead, chase it down immediately. Find job fairs and attend them. Think about temp work. These are all possible avenues through which the right job can come to you, and you need to be working every possible angle to steer the odds in your favor.
- Don’t forget to network. Remember, online listings only account for about one-third of all available jobs. The other two-thirds are the “hidden job market,” and those positions are generally filled by word-of-mouth. That’s why I can’t overstress the importance of networking at every opportunity, because that’s how you’re going to find those hidden jobs.
- Follow up. I can’t tell you how many job opportunities get wasted just because the person failed to follow up with the company after sending in their resume or after the job interview. There are usually quite a few candidates who are equally qualified for every job opening. The ones who follow up usually get hired. The ones who don’t—don’t.
- Make a plan, and hold yourself to it. With every one of my clients, we do a weekly action plan on Monday listing the tasks to be done that week, and we follow up on it on Friday. Not only does this keep them motivated and on track day to day, but at the end of the week they can see just how much time and effort they’re putting toward their goals. That’s just one example of how to do it, but whatever it looks like for you, make sure you’re keeping yourself accountable.
It’s tempting to want to take some “down time” between jobs; I get that, and there’s no judgment. But at least be honest with yourself that you’re taking a little enjoyment in being unemployed. If you’re not happy about your lack of employment, and especially your lack of a paycheck, then it’s time to come back from vacation. Stop saying you need a job; you have a job. Until you have that job offer, your job search IS your job. I can’t promise you’ll get hired right away, but I can say you’ll get hired much faster than if you do it 10 hours per week.
If you want some guided assistance finding your dream job more quickly and effectively, I can help. For a free 30-minute consultation, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or give me a call at 646-320-1126.