One of the most common questions I get from job seekers is, “How long should my job search really take?”
It’s a good question: Knowing what’s “normal” can help you determine whether you’re on the right track or in need of a course correction.
Unfortunately, there is no normal when it comes to the job search. 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’s pace, there are a few things to keep in mind.
First: Is this the first time 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? Many people have had jobs land in their laps over the years. At some point, they get the urge to take a more proactive approach instead of waiting. Although this proactive search is preferred, it also consumes more time.
Another important consideration: Are you changing industries or job functions? For example, if you are switching from a for-profit to a nonprofit or from technology to marketing, your search is likely to take longer. When you’re transitioning from one job to another, similar job, it’s easy for the hiring manager to see how your skills fit into their organization. When you make a big switch, you have to find an open-minded hiring manager who believes in you and is willing to take a risk. Find such a person will take time.
Finally: Is your job function unique, and are you highly compensated? The higher you go up the company ladder, the fewer 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, finding a job was easy. You were at the bottom of the pay scale, and there were many openings for your job function. Once you’ve received a few promotions, however, the number of jobs available to you shrinks. Finding a new job on the outside will take longer than you remember.
Be sure to consider any other constraints your search might have – for example, if you need to stay in a specific location. Requirements are a good thing to have. They help you target the right opportunities. However, the more targeted your search, the harder it is to find a job that meets your criteria.
When you’re looking for a new job, remember that it’s not the same search you did years ago. Therefore, it will take a different amount of time. Focus more on your search itself than on how long it takes.
A version of this article originally appeared in the Memphis Daily News.
Angela Copeland is a career coach and CEO at her firm, Copeland Coaching.