How Long Will My Job Search Take?

Most people worry about being out of work for a long time or taking months to make that long awaited move. This is a realistic concern and why one of the most common questions I get asked is ‘How long will it take?’ The fact is there is no precise answer. One person’s job search may go quickly while another person’s may take several months, maybe more than a year. The answer depends on a variety of factors, but for the most part it comes down to these three things: The level of position your are seeking, whether you’re looking to be hired as a regular employee or consultant, and how well connected you are within the industry / niche you want to work in.

Job seekers with two to seven years experience can usually find a job in less than three months. It may not be their dream job, but let’s face it, when you’re building your resume and experience, you often have to get your foot in the door, prove yourself, and then work your way into what you really want to do. Fortunately, most early career people that I know expect this. They know they have to pay their dues and they’re willing to do it.

Middle managers should expect their job search to last 3 – 6 months; and I tell my clients l to hear the six more than the three. Part of the reason for this is simply the time most companies take to go through their selection process. The higher the position level will be in the company, the more people the company will want involved in the interview process. When you factor the number of people and their busy schedules, geographic challenges, hiring policies, and the number of people they’re considering for the job, the timeline simply gets pushed out.

Executives often have the longest timeline for finding a new position; and most seem to expect that. They’ve been in the position of hiring for long enough that they’ve seen timelines get pushed out and they plan on a longer hiring cycle. They also know the most critical component of being offered a position, and for them accepting it, is the chemistry they feel with the other executives, board members, and key advisors. It’s not uncommon for an executive to have the education, background and experience a company wants in their next hire, but the culture fit just isn’t there, and it’s a deal-breaker for both sides.

Looking for a direct hire or regular position may take months, so if you’re looking to get back to the office more quickly and keep some cash coming in, your best bet is to look at temporary or consulting opportunities. Working on an interim basis, whether that’s filling in for a vacant position or helping a company get through a project, it’s a great way to keep your skills current and prove yourself through doing great work. The work you do may be the same as what you’ve done before, but you’ll learn and grow by seeing it from the perspective of a different business or by using new systems and technologies. You’ll also work with a new set of people who have their own set of connections, which could lead to new referrals and opportunities.

See also  Should You Accept Temp Work When Looking For Regular Employment

This leads me to my final point. Regardless of where you are in your career, you must stay connected to the people you’ve known through past positions, business connections, industry circles, and even your education (high school included). The one thing that has not changed over the decades is that the best way to find the job you really want is through personal connections. Astonishingly, most people get so focused on their work that they neglect to stay connected to the people they worked with along the way. Your business colleagues, and even just people you’ve come to know, are your best source of support and referrals. They know your work, they know your character, and they know they’ll look good in both your eyes and the party they recommend you to if they succeed in making a good connection.

So, if you haven’t reached out to the people who know you best, the time to start is now. And then-keep it up. Create a system for following up at least once a year. Use email, LinkedIn, Facebook, or the hundreds of apps that have been created to make this easier for you. You need it for today and you’ll need it for tomorrow. (And a little tip: if you’re resistant to using new technology, you’ll find it even more challenging to find a job. So, embrace what’s out there and stay current).

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Julia is a Career Strategist and Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach based in the Bay Area. She helps career-focused professionals showcase their unique abilities and talents in order to amplify their presence in their chosen fields and when re-entering the job market. Julia uses her extensive leadership experience in executive management, business development, team building and recruiting to help her clients have the career they always wanted. Learn more about Julia at,, (@JuliaHolian) and


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