My answer is almost always, “It depends.”
I work, primarily, with experienced professionals—which is code for those over 50 years of age.
I tell them that a really short job search is three months. It takes almost three months for a company to decide to hire someone, post the job, interview candidates, make an offer, and then make the hire.
What factors affect how long the job search will take:
- Depth of experience and perceived salary requirements
- Your Network
- Geographical demand for your skills
- Time of year
- Age discrimination
Depth of experience and perceived salary requirements
The more experience you have and the greater perceived salary requirements, the longer it will take. Notice I wrote perceived salary requirements. Yes, I know you say you will take less money but…no one will believe you!
The reality is, the higher the perceived salary requirements, the fewer and fewer jobs there will be. After you get over a 6 figure income, the number of jobs decreases in most job markets.
Your next job will likely come through a referral. If you follow the Target Job Search Strategy you will be strategically building a referral network. The stronger your network the shorter your job search.
Geographical demand for your skills
Are your skills valued in your local job market? For example, if you have an oil and gas background and you are looking for a position in Central Texas, where I live, well… it will be a tough and long job search. However, if you move to Houston, you will find your skills much more valued.
If you have a certification, is it valued in your local market? The varies greatly by region!
If your skills or credentials are in over abundance or are not valued in your local region, you need to extend the length of your job search or expand your geographical search zone.
Time of year
Like every other business process, hiring goes through cycles. A lot of hiring occurs after annual budgets are approved. Look at financial statements of each target company on your target list and determine when the financial year begins. Some companies start their fiscal year in October and others start in January.
Hiring usually stops from late November through the middle of January. This is an excellent time to network and build your tribe, but little hiring occurs during this time.
Similarly, hiring slows down (but does not stop) during July and August when many people go on vacation. It only takes one person in the hiring process to go on vacation for everything to grind to a halt.
Age discrimination is alive and well. You need to factor this into the length of your job search. You have to be realistic and find employers who value your skills and experience and will not discriminate based on your age. I am working with a client right now who in part of the long term unemployed cohort, and she is targeting government positions. For her, it is a numbers game, but she will be treated fairly in applying for government positions.
So how long will my job search take?
I tell my clients to plan on a minimum of 6 months to 2 years. If you are employed, it really depends on the amount of time you can dedicate to the job search. If you follow my Target Job Search Strategy, you should plan on starting your job search 18 months after you start a new job and plan on that search taking 18 months. That means you will be prepared to change jobs every 3 years. That does not mean you will change jobs every 3 years, BUT you will be prepared to do so.
How long do you expect your job search to take?
Check out my book Repurpose Your Career – A Practical Guide for Baby Boomers