How Long Does it Take to Find a Job?

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How long does it take to find a job? The answer to that varies. Job seekers understandably would love to know how long it will take to find a position and resolve any uncertainty about their future employment.

The truth, though, is that it could be as little as a few days, or, unfortunately, it can take a long time.

The Average Time it Takes to Find a Job

The Bureau of Labor Statistics gathers information on the length of time that workers are unemployed. The data for May 2020 indicates that the average duration of unemployment was 7.7 weeks; 5.6% of the unemployed were out of work for 27 weeks or longer. However, because of the record-high number of unemployment claims in 2020, the duration of unemployment most likely does not reflect the current job market.

A Challenger, Gray & Christmas survey (June 2020) reports that most respondents (56%) had been unemployed for one to two months. The majority (63%) believe it will take between one and six months to find work. While 46% of those surveyed said that they believe it will take four to six months to find another position, 38% think that it will likely take seven to 12 months.

Randstad commissioned a survey of 2000 Americans in 2018 and found that respondents took an average of five months to find a job.

The National Association for Colleges and Employers (NACE) Recruiting Benchmarks Survey reports that, on average, the time span from interview to notification of an offer for new college graduates was 23.6 days.

Glassdoor reports a similar average time frame, 23.8 days, from interview to job offer. However, this varies by industry: "Government (53.8 days), Aerospace & Defense (32.6 days) and Energy & Utilities (28.8 days). The sectors with the shortest interview processes are Restaurants & Bars (10.2 days), Private Security (11.6 days), and Supermarkets (12.3 days)."

It's important to note that there are so many variables that impact the length of time it takes to find work that estimates don’t really apply when applied to any one individual and his or her situation.

Factors That Impact the Length of a Job Search

There are a number of factors that could speed up or slow down your job search. These factors include:

  • The overall state of the economy and the job market
  • Economic conditions in the area where a worker is looking for employment
  • The quantity of jobs in the person's preferred location (try finding a film industry job in Des Moines, Iowa, for example)
  • The geographic flexibility on the part of the job seeker
  • The flexibility in terms of job preferences (those exclusively seeking a type of job which is hard to land will likely have a longer job search)
  • The credentials of the job seeker, and the level of demand for one's skills
  • The longer one is unemployed, generally, the longer it will take to find work
  • The amount of time and energy devoted to the job search
  • The quality of job search materials, including the resume and cover letters
  • The quality of job search strategy, including the level of networking activity

Some of these factors, like the state of the economy, are beyond your control. Other factors can be impacted by your choices. There are things you can do to try to speed up your job search process.

Tips for Speeding Up the Job Search Process

  • Be open to different locations. If you live in an area that does not have many jobs in your industry (or if you live in an area where the job market is generally not great), your job search may take a while. If you are at all flexible in terms of where you work, try expanding your job search geographically. If you can look for jobs where your industry is booming, you’ll increase your chances of finding a position.
  • Be flexible in terms of job preferences. Similarly, if you are looking for a very specific type of job, it will likely take a while to find. Consider looking at related jobs, or jobs that require a similar skill set.
  • Job search regularly. The frequency with which you conduct your job search will also affect how long your search lasts. Try hunting on a daily, or at least regular, basis. It will help you stay on top of the latest job postings.
  • Enhance key skills. You can also improve your chances of finding a job quickly by working to develop the skills that are most important for your industry. Try signing up for coursework, training, internships, or volunteer work to enhance key skills.
  • Expand your network. As mentioned earlier, some people have gotten jobs within days of going on the job market, either through LinkedIn or meeting someone at a networking event. Increase your level of networking activity through networking events, informational interviews, online networking, and more. You never know which new contact might get you the job.
  • Seek assistance.​ Get advice online to improve your marketability. You might also consider visiting a career counselor for more specific advice on speeding up your job search.

Try to Be Patient

It may not be about you. Factors out of your control might still make your job search process a long one.

Continue to search for jobs, follow these tips, and try to be patient. The right job for you will come along, and it will have been worth the wait.

Article Sources

  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Economic News Release," Accessed June 29, 2020.

  2. Challenger, Gray & Christmas. "Job Seeker Confidence Survey: Job Seekers Believe Recession Will Last At Least 10 Months, Take 6 Months to Find New Positions." Accessed June 29, 2020.

  3. Ranstad. "The Art of the Job Hunt," Accessed June 29, 2020.

  4. NACE. Benchmarks: "Cycle Times, Offer and Acceptance Rates," Accessed June 29, 2020.

  5. Glassdoor. "How Long Does it Take to Hire?," Accessed June 29, 2020.