Q. I am looking for a job and am worried that my severance won't last anywhere near as long as it will take to find a job. Is there a formula to predict how long my job search will take?
A. Preparing for a lengthy job search is important and your financial preparation is only one piece of the process. Everything you can do to ease the stress of the job search to focus on the work of the search will speed things along.
Many people want to take time off before starting to look for a job. Time off sounds great, but you must be prepared. Have your resume ready in case you are asked for it or someone mentions an opportunity of interest. There is a certain amount of work needed for every successful job search and you have control over how much time it will take you to do that work.
The rule of thumb is that it will take one month of job searching for every $10,000 of salary that you were earning; if you were making $30,000 it will take three months, $60,000 six months. It's hard for most people to imagine a job search taking that long and it may become a challenge to focus on the day to day search. A job search for a salary of over $50,000 will involve meeting about 100 people. You can choose to do that level of work over four or five months, or over eight to10 months.
The Division of Labor Force Statistics reported that the length of time it took job seekers to be successful in their job search increased during and after the recession. The length of time almost doubled; a far greater share of job seekers spent longer than a year in the job search before they were successful. The number of job seekers who stopped looking for work entirely increased drastically.
Every aspect of the type of job you are looking for is helpful in determining the length of your job search. Assess what is happening in your targeted industry. How is the economy affecting that area? If that area is downsizing, add weeks to your search. If you have a highly sought after skill or are willing to relocate, cut weeks off your search.
Who you are as a job seeker will help determine how long your search will take. Older job seekers (over 55) can anticipate a longer job search. Are you willing to network and good at it? Cut weeks off your search. If you are only applying to jobs online and not meeting with people to develop a network, add weeks to your job search. Every job search method has levels of success and the most successful job seeker will use them all to find the right job in the least amount of time.
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Meet the Jobs Docs
Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
Cindy Atoji Keene is a freelance journalist with more than 25 years experience. E-mail her directly here.
Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.
Stu Coleman, a partner and general manager at WinterWyman, manages the firm's Financial Contracting division, and provides strategic staffing services to Boston-area organizations needing Accounting and Finance workforce solutions and contract talent.
Tracy Cashman is Senior Vice President and Partner of the Information Technology search division at WinterWyman. She has 20 years of experience partnering with clients in the Boston area to conduct technology searches in a wide variety of industries and technology.
Paul Hellman is the founder of Express Potential, which specializes in executive communication skills. He consults and speaks internationally on how to capture attention & influence others. Email him directly here.