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Career Corner: How Long Should a Job Search Take?

Waiting for the right job. – Courtesy Photo / jeshoots (CC0)

By Angela Copeland

When you’re looking for a new job, the time it takes can feel brutal. Every day, you hope the right job will fall into your lap. Not only are you anxious about this, so are your friends and family. They’ve never seen a job search take so long. Something must be wrong, right? Not necessarily.

There are a few things to consider when it comes to getting a new job. First, think about this. When you finished college, you would take any job, working anywhere, doing anything, for any amount of money. You had never worked before. You just needed something to put on your resume.

But, after you got a little bit of experience under your belt, you started to know yourself better. You realized that you’re good at a certain type of work. Maybe you need to live in a certain city now. You may be married or own a home. And, you may need to make a certain amount of money.

When you have more requirements, the number of jobs you’re looking for are more limited. This isn’t a bad thing. Knowing what you’re looking for is great. It will help you to find a job that’s a good fit. But, it will take longer. Because instead of any kind of job, you are now looking for one particular kind of job.

In addition, your search can take longer if anything about your search is unusual. For example, if you’re job searching from a distance (if you want to relocate), it usually takes longer. If you are switching industries, it may take longer. If you’re switching job functions, it may take longer.

The more you make, the longer it takes. This is also an issue as you climb the corporate ladder. The more experienced you are, the longer your search will take.

Experts estimate that for every $10,000 you make, it should take approximately one month to find a job. In other words, if you make $40,000 per year, it should take about four months to find a job. If you make $60,000 per year, that number jumps to six months.

If you’ve reached an executive level role at your company, the amount of time it takes to find something goes up, right along with your pay. This can make job searching more time consuming and more exhausting than ever before. It can be shocking for friends and family who are aware of your search. Not only does it take time to find something, by this point in your career, you don’t want any offer. You want a job that’s a good fit all the way around.

This time horizon is something to keep in mind if you’re struggling. It’s also a reason why having an emergency fund can be helpful, if you can build one up. If you find yourself without a job, it may take time to find a new one.

Angela Copeland, a career influencer and founder of Copeland Coaching, can be reached at copelandcoaching.com.

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