Why Finding a Job Can Take So Long

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Finding a job often takes much longer than job seekers expect. The rule of thumb is to plan for at least one month of job searching for every $10,000 of salary desired. This means that a job seeker who expects to earn $60,000 needs to prepare for a six-month-long job search. Why does finding a job take so long?

The first reason why finding a job takes longer than expected has to do with the average company's job search time line. It is extremely rare for a company to post an open position and fill the position immediately. First, resumes must be collected and reviewed. Then, a few rounds of phone interviews and in-person interviews follow. Even when a top candidate is selected, the human resources department still often needs to check references, run background checks and perform other important administrative work before the job is offered.

Job seekers need to have patience with companies during the interview process, especially when it takes longer than expected. A good HR department works to stay in communication with job candidates during a long process, but even the best communication does not make a job search proceed more quickly.

The second reason why finding a job takes months is because there are more job seekers than available open positions. This is especially true for higher-level jobs, which is why the rule of thumb about planning one month of job searching for every $10,000 of salary exist. A highly qualified job seeker has to wait for an appropriate position in the right geographical area to open up and then compete with other equally qualified candidates for the open spot.

Even finding retail and service jobs often takes longer than a job seeker expects. As the Washington Post notes, when Walmart opened in Washington, D.C., it received 23,000 applications for 600 jobs. When these types of jobs get many more applicants than available positions, job seekers need to be prepared for a long job search.

Some job seekers view finding a job as a continuous process. These are the job seekers who keep an eye out for new positions in their industry and apply for them whenever they become available, even if they are happily employed with another company. Because finding a job is much easier when currently employed, these job seekers sometimes have shorter job searches than people who wait until they are unemployed to begin the job search process.

When job seekers ask why finding a job can take so long, they are actually asking what they can do to get hired faster. Ultimately, the best way to find a job is to apply for as many appropriate positions as possible. Job seekers also gain an edge if they apply for jobs while they are still employed. However, even with these tips, finding a job still often takes longer than expected.

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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  • Heather O.
    Heather O.

    Deb. N- I feel your pain. Practically in the same boat!


    I know you think there's an advantage of you working that long with no plans of leaving for something that will help you get where you will be happy and content. But with no growth in your part like pursuing skills that will help you for advancement and education that is needed for the changes ahead with the technology that is developing so rapidly that if you don't keep up to date, you will be left behind. Whatever you decide that will make you happy and peaceful in life, that is all the matters...believe in yourself and trust that you made the right one for good things come with it if you feel positive and good about yourself and the support from your family...it's going to be better and patience and time all you need to live day by day. Always don't forget to be thankful and keep hopes high.


    When do you know that it's time to change the strategy and you getting worried and bad things happen that goes with like stress, anxiety, not feeling good about yourself, regrets and losing that drive and feeling hopeless.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    That is awesome Deborah. Yes sometimes we have to take the job that we don't want in order to get to the job that we do! Wish you all the best in becoming your own boss!

  • Deborah N.
    Deborah N.

    I lost my job in June 2014 and began collecting unemployment. I looked for work while researching how to start my own business. I was on the verge of launching when I was smacked down again! My unemployment was exhausted and would end at the end of December. I couldn't file again until June 2015. Now what? I had to bring in money to pay expenses. I really intensified my search for work and fell back on my Hospitality experience. I was hired for a part-time position. I still have to find something else while I promote my business. It's not a job I wanted to return to but it was a blessing to be hired. Perseverance can be daunting but in my case, I had to take what I could get. It's not forever - it's money to keep my bills paid. I will keep pushing forward to get my business up and running. After years of working for others and losing jobs, I want to be my own boss. Best of luck to all of you!

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Martha. So sorry. It is tough and yes your years do count. You just need to update your resume so that it's fresh and young sounding. I would suggest that you only include the past 10 yrs UNLESS the job posting is asking for something specific that you bring to the table. See if that helps.

  • Martha B.
    Martha B.

    I am having a hard time in the job market, because I don't have the degrees they are demanding. I have been working to survive for forty years. I have been working since I was fourteen. Doesn't that count for something?

  • Barbara S.
    Barbara S.

    Very challenging finding and interesting work from home. Will not give up!

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Robert - you are right. There are jobs out there. You just have to keep looking. Finding a job is a job. Most people think that they can sit down at their computer for a few minutes a day and they will find their dream job. Not likely! You just have to remember that finding a job IS a fulltime job in itself. If you treat it that way, you will find a job. Even though the economy is crawling, it is moving and jobs are being created. Wish you all the best in your endeavors.

  • Robert F.
    Robert F.

    The economy due to government regulations is crawling. However, I believe regardless of your education or age there is a good job out there for you. I am in my 50s and I can tell you finding work is difficult but not impossible. Keep looking and you will find an employer that cares and when the door opens give it your all. HAPPY HUNTING!

  • HARI C.
    HARI C.

    employer's interest is more important than yours


    Yes it can take awhile.

  • Helen Candace H.
    Helen Candace H.

    Combining resources is the best way to successfully connect to an opportunity that suits your skills and abilities.

  • Deborah N.
    Deborah N.

    Karen L., Have you searched AARP's website? They have so much information catered toward the 50 +, including companies that hire over 50. I'm taking their Life Reimagined online workshops and they help in so many ways. There are many options and they take no more that 15 minutes to complete. There is on that may interest you and I encourage you to look into their site. I'm 57 and was laid off in June - my unemployment is done at the end of this month. I'm am searching for work - anything to bring money in. As for Christmas, I feel your pain. I can't buy for my grandsons and that is very hard to deal with. It's about family being together and the birth of Jesus, but a 6 year isn't interested in hearing that. The other one is too young, but I know I don't have anything for him. We will get through this, Karen! We may be in our 50's but we have a lot left to give! Let's keep on going and make the best of the holidays.

  • Karen L.
    Karen L.

    I am 56 yrs. old The majority of my life I was in the retail industry. (almost every position at one time or another) I just got burned out. I always had a calling for health care, so I got a job as a Personal Care Aide/Med tech in a Nursing home. I found this work very gratifying and I true enjoyed going to work each day. Problem was....the pay was worse than any other job I ever had, but the work was exhausting! My husband is disabled and cannot work, so I am the breadwinner in the family. I NEED a job that pays well, does not require travel, and is close to my hometown. I am healthy, smart, organized, can work with any personality type, detail oriented and very dependable and honest. I have been sending out applications and resumes for several months and still have no job. How can I improve and update my job searching skills? I truly am DESPERATE to earn a paycheck. Our bills are backing up and we have all but "forgotten" about celebrating Christmas this year.

  • Dino Greco
    Dino Greco

    After helping my father run his business for 17 years by doing the bookkeeping, my father decided to sell the business. He had a beauty salon. When the new owner took over, he decided to keep the rest of the staff, including my father, but not me. It has now been 15 months and I still can't find a job.

  • Gustavo Ponce
    Gustavo Ponce

    I was unemployed for 9 months, English is not my first language, so I can hardly understand or speak it. I have a horrible accent and I recently got a position as a supervisor. I don’t have any education here in USA, I have a bachelor’s degree in my country but that does not count here. I recently got a position as a supervisor, I had no idea how to do this job, but they trained me. I guess I was lucky or blessed.

  • Deborah N.
    Deborah N.

    I worked for years with only a High School Diploma and did fine. I was working at the same place for 5 years before they closed. It was suggested I get a degree, which would help me get a job. I went to school, earned my Associates and guess what??? It hasn't opened any doors and now I have a debt I didn't have before. Having a piece of paper that says you went to college, like a marriage license, doesn't mean the same as it did years ago. I'd rather rely on my work experience and life skills to get the job. But what I want and the employer wants aren't the same. It's a Catch 22 - you're (blank) if you do and (blank) if you don't.

  • DaShonda H.
    DaShonda H.

    I have been unemployed for 10 months and what I am finding is, having a degree is what is holding me back. I had been on my previous job for over 24 years (same job) and before that job, 7 years previous job. I am currently enrolled in school obtaining my Bachelors degree in business but that doesn't count when looking for a job. I really wish employers would take in consideration your WORK experience and not having that piece of paper when deciding on who they hire.

  • Paula W.
    Paula W.

    Cindy, I hear you! I'm under the same circumstances and the 1 month for every $10,000 rule hasn't applied to me. I'm in the 8th month. I also feel that years of experience equal to or more than the amount of time spent in college should be recognized as a qualification for a degree requirement. My research has indicated that you should only include the last 10 years of employment history on your resume, but I actually had an interviewer ask me why I left the rest of my employment off. I have 38 years in and am pretty sure it's being held against me.

  • Cindy T.
    Cindy T.

    I have been unemployed for approx. 3 months. I live in a small community and jobs are real slim. I have been applying for jobs I know that I am qualified for and not getting any response what so ever. Moving away from the area is not an option. I am willing to travel up to 50 miles if need be. But I have to take all costs in to the factor. I am almost certain my ex employer is bad mouthing me, saw it happen for 10 yrs to the previous office manager and I am trying to decide do i leave off the last 10 yrs of employment off of my resume or what do i do. I may only have a HS diploma but i have 21+ yrs in the clerical field. To me experience is everything. I am more than willing to be trained actually I am up for a new adventure. I love a challenge.

  • Gregory K.
    Gregory K.

    Hello, I have found that Beyond and other site's are a Great Help. The thing about finding the right one doe's not come right away. I put in ten apps. a day but only expect to hear back from one. I just returned back to SLC.4 days ago. Now I Have 3 interview's that fast. You have to keep at it ! It get's discouraging at times but apply,apply,apply even to jobs you don't think you have experience in. you'll be surprised. Happy Hunting !

  • Ann Marie Posuniak
    Ann Marie Posuniak

    thank you!

  • Leon T.
    Leon T.

    Hire a recruiter and get that job and placement! Remember you are the best out there!


    Does it typically take even longer when you are trying to change career paths? Deborah N, I began to work as a temp. Good source of continuation of income, but must caution it could be a trap that you can never return from and their are very few benefits.

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