Hurry up and wait: Jobseeker reality


You’ve made the decision to move on from your current position.  You figure, “I’ll send a resume tonight, interview next week, be offered the job and start two weeks from that day.”  But then reality sets in;  it takes two weeks from your resume submittal date before you hear back to set up an initial phone interview, then a 1st round interview two weeks later, a 2nd interview two weeks after that, and another week or two of reference and background checking before you hear back that they hired another candidate.  You are back to the drawing board two months later…

Now, neither scenario is the norm.  However, the latter, more drawn-out process is what we see more often than not.  Yes, I’ve worked with candidates that received offers just 2 days after they kicked off the search, but catching lighting in a bottle does not happen very often.

According to a study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the average number of days it takes to go from interview to offer for new graduates is 23 days / three weeks. This does not include the time between resume submission and first interview or the time it takes to make a decision to accept and clear any potential contingencies (credit / criminal / drug / reference checks, etc.).

In other words, patience and perseverance are important attributes to have when you’re on the job hunt.  Below are a few things that you need to keep in mind as you contemplate stepping into a job search, as well as some tips to help you through the process:


Give yourself enough lead time.

A number of factors will affect how much time it could take to identify the right opportunity:

  • The level of position that you are seeking
    • Generally speaking, the more money you make, the tougher it is to find a similar-paying job. There are simply more lower-paying jobs than higher paying jobs; an organization only needs one CFO, but needs 20 accounting clerks and five accountants.
    • There has been a rule of thumb passed along over the years that it will take one month of job searching for every $10,000 of salary that you want to earn; if you want to make $60,000, it will take 6 months; $120,000 will take 12 months. In my experience, I believe these timelines to be exaggerated, but not by much.
  • The amount of time devoted to the search and avenues utilized
    • If you are simply clicking the ‘Apply’ button, it will generally take longer.
    • Utilize your network to identify opportunities and open doors.
    • Partner with a reputable recruiter to assist in the search and give advice along the way.
  • Economic conditions
  • The quantity of jobs in your preferred location and your flexibility in location
  • Your personal flexibility as it pertains to job preferences
  • Your personal credentials as a job seeker; how relevant is your experience to the position you desire?
  • The length of time you’ve been unemployed; nobody likes to hear this, but the longer one is unemployed, the longer it will take to find work

If you decide to have a recruiter assist you in your search (99.9% of them are free to the candidate, so it is a free service), reach out to them in advance and discuss your timeline.  They will be able to give you a good idea of when to start applying or interviewing.


There will be additional steps in the interview process that you did not anticipate.

At some organizations, you might endure three or four face-to-face interviews (I have personally gone through a seven-interview process; they are out there!) to meet different team members, and be evaluated in different ways.  Whether it’s completing a formal application, taking an assessment, or meeting with an outside trusted advisor of the organization, expect setbacks in the process to maintain your sanity.


The larger the company, the longer it may take.

While I must throw out a disclaimer that there are exceptions to every rule, the point is that you should expect to jump through a few extra hoops (phone screens; personality, cognitive and other assessment tools; multiple hiring managers or input from numerous sources throughout the organization) if you’re dealing with a larger organization.


Follow up!

This is especially important if you are primarily applying online.  Although it varies with the company and the job, I want to paint a picture of the “hiring funnel”, and I will use fairly typical and approximated/rounded numbers to do so:

  • If properly advertised, roughly 1,000 individuals will see the posting
  • 200 applicants will begin the application process
  • Only 100 will complete this application process
  • 75 of these applicants/resumes will be screened out either by the recruiter or an applicant tracking system (i.e., lost in the resume black hole)
  • The other 25 resumes will be further screened by the recruiter and/or passed along to the hiring manager
  • Anywhere from 4 to 10 applicants will be invited for a face-to-face interview
  • 1 to 4 of these will be invited back for a 2nd, possibly a 3rd interview
  • 1 individual will be offered the position

Ask any HR leader how difficult it can be to not only vet out, but get back to everyone in a timely manner throughout the entire process!  Here are some tips to gain insight as a candidate, but also move the process along as quickly as possible:

  • Get back to the hiring manager or HR in a timely manner when asked for follow up
  • Whenever possible, ask when you might expect to hear back from them, or when a good time to follow up might be. And follow up!
  • Be cognizant that hiring managers typically are hiring because they are understaffed. They already have additional work to perform due to an empty seat, and the interviewing process just adds more time onto their work-week.  Do not be surprised if the deadlines they gave you are not met, but still follow up.
  • If using an external recruiter and you hear crickets, follow up with them to gather insight on where things stand.
  • If you applied online and have not heard anything, follow any guidance that the posting or application process gave you regarding follow-up. If it has been two weeks or more, and you truly feel that you are a viable candidate, it may be worth following up via email or phone call to, at the very least, verify that your resume or application was received.  Asking a question such as “Is there anything that would preclude me from being a viable candidate for this position?” will give some clarification on where you stand in their eyes.  It could also allow you to clarify or nullify a concern that they may have with your background or credentials.


Be patient!

This is difficult for many of us, but understand that delays are likely to happen in the hiring process and deadlines are bound to be pushed back.

“Patience and diligence, like faith, remove mountains.” – William Penn


Source: National Association of College and Employers, NACE 2014 Internship & Co-op Survey





Josh Boesch is a Lutz Talent Shareholder with over 14 years of audit and recruiting experience. He heads the Lutz Talent division, a service that helps clients identify “the ideal candidate” to meet their business goals, challenges, culture and vision. His experience as a CPA and his approach to gaining an in-depth understanding of the client’s talent needs, including the skills, experience, cultural understanding and personality fit, has been integral to his success.

  • Recruiting and Search Services
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  • BSBA, Accounting and Managerial Information Systems, Creighton University, Omaha, NE
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