It’s always nerve-wracking to contemplate making a leap to a new job. In today’s market, however, where 770,000 American workers have been unemployed for 27 weeks or longer, it’s especially scary to consider what could be an extended period of time out of work. Even if you’re lucky enough to have a job, it’s exhausting to think of pulling double-duty, as you surreptitiously interview around your regularly scheduled meetings. So how long can you expect to look, before you land something?
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“Over time, experts have estimated it would take very, very roughly one month to find a job for every $10,000 of the paycheck you would like to earn,” writes Alison Doyle, About.com’s job searching expert. “…However, there is little concrete research to support that assertion, and there are so many variables that impact the length of time it takes to find work that even a rough estimate is virtually useless when applied to any one individual.”
To a certain extent, the length of time you’re out of work is dependent on factors beyond your control, for instance, the state of the economy when you lost your job, and plain luck. But, that doesn’t meant that you have no influence on the process, or that there’s nothing you can do to speed things up.
1. Do your research.
Before you price yourself out of the job of your dreams — or undersell yourself, and ask for too little — find out what similar jobs in your area offer in terms of salary and benefits. PayScale’s Salary Wizard can help you evaluate job offers and establish your salary request.
It’s highly likely that you’ll get a job through someone you know, rather than through a blind application process.
“Everyone has heard the statistic that 80% of jobs are gotten via referral. To get referred, you need to network,” writes J.T. O’Donnell at AOL Jobs. “Sadly, most people enjoy networking about as much as they enjoy a root canal without Novocain. That’s because they don’t understand how to do it well. Networking can actually be quite rewarding when we approach it with the proper mindset and expectations. The easiest way to look at the power of networking is to think of the concept of ‘six degrees of separation.’ Your next employer is just six connections away. The sooner you start networking, the sooner you meet that hiring manager!”
3. Use social media.
LinkedIn, in particular, makes networking easier than ever before. If you’re new to LinkedIn, you can learn about the basics here. More experienced users should concentrate on keyword-optimizing their profiles, and using other tricks to attract more recruiters.
4. Identify your skills gaps.
Not getting calls back for the jobs you want? The problem might be that you’re not quite qualified for your dream job — yet. To boost your chances at getting an interview and ultimately the job, look at the LinkedIn profiles of folks who currently work in similar positions. What do they have that you don’t have? Sometimes, it’s a matter of tweaking your resume or profile, but other times, you might need to look into brushing up on a skill or getting a certificate that has value in your field. You can’t fix a problem if you don’t know it exists.
5. Be polite.
Your mother was right: you catch more flies with honey. Throughout the interview process, try to behave in a way that would inspire you to give you the job, if you were hiring. Say please and thank you (and send thank-you notes). Don’t force a connection on strangers on LinkedIn, and don’t pressure existing connections to hook you up with interviews or the hiring manager’s email address. Be persistent, but be polite. Remember, you’re more likely to get hired if people actually want to work with you.
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