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How long should it take to find a job?

Relaunchers often ask me this question, hoping for a simple response. But there is no universal answer. It depends. There are various external factors influencing the process...

By Arjan Eenkema van Dijk

Arjan Eenkema van Dijk, MBA, is a certified Executive Coach, speaker and facilitator and an expert in leadership development, personal branding, communication, career transition, and positive intelligence. As Founder and President of InspireShift, LLC., Arjan works both nationally and internationally with executives, leaders, business owners and individuals to define and attain their leadership and career objectives.

Relaunchers often ask me this question, hoping for a simple response. But there is no universal answer. It depends. There are various external factors influencing the process, such as the supply and demand of the job market, the seasonality of hiring, and the duration of the hiring process itself, but ultimately the length of your pursuit depends mostly on you. The control you have over your marketability and job search is much greater than you may realize; there is a clear correlation between a targeted and disciplined effort and the speed with which you land a job.

An effective search is grounded in both thinking and acting. Thought without action will stall your search, and action without thought will lead you in the wrong direction. Productive thinking enables you to design a targeted search. This, combined with purposeful action, results in success.

Generally speaking, landing the same or a similar position in the field in which you have previously worked tends to be less time consuming than marketing yourself for a very different role in a divergent industry. The latter may require further education and/or a boost in your experience. Though this process may be longer, it will be well worth the effort if this new position or field connects more deeply with your values and interests.

Similarly, if you have been out of the workforce for a longer time, you may need to brush up certain skills to increase your marketability. If supply and demand for jobs of your interest do not work in your favor or you are in a shrinking industry, you may want to re-assess and broaden your exploration.

For most people the hardest part is getting started. Sometimes relaunchers don’t move forward due to a lack of confidence and a desire to show up perfectly. Girls Who Code Founder Reshama Saujani’s advice, “to be brave, not perfect,” is not only true for younger people but rings true for relaunchers as well. A lack of clarity can be equally paralyzing. I encourage you to favor action over inaction. Informational interviews and research will provide more insights. The job search is an iterative process which requires adjustment along the way. Be a “possibilitarian”; think outside the box and be creative to reveal and create more opportunities.

I also recommend you schedule time in your calendar dedicated to your search. Otherwise, life gets in the way as seemingly more urgent needs arise, permitting you to delay your search for “one more day.” The more you make your search a priority, the quicker you will see results.

The likelihood of successfully completing a goal increases exponentially with a plan and even further if you create an accountability appointment. Start your plan with a clear career objective to ensure a targeted pursuit. Objectives should include the position you are aiming for, the industry and type of companies you would like to work for, as well as your desired compensation. In addition, define the hours you want to work and how this position fits in with your overall life to ensure long-term success.

The right marketing tools will reduce your time to land a position. A solid resume and LinkedIn profile are a basic place to start. You also want to craft an effective elevator pitch and sharpen your networking and interviewing skills. Networking is crucial, as most positions are landed through connections, rather than blind resume submission.

The saying, “it takes a job to find a job is accurate.” Hard work. Effort. Discipline. These are the great accelerators. In combination with a well thought-out plan and a positive mindset, you will be able to transform your job search into an employment reality.

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