AJO Blog

Three Supply Factors - How Long Your Job Search Will Take


November 17th, 2015
Our Career Coaches are often asked how long it takes to find another position and there is no easy answer to this question. Each person is unique when it comes to his/her background, network, needs and motivations. Local and national labor market conditions and skill supply and demand factors also play a role. However, there are some planning steps that you can take to anticipate and plan for your job search and potentially reduce your overall time to land your next position.  
In this follow up post in the series exploring how long it takes to find a job, we’ll look at three “supply factors” that dictate the number of job opportunities available to you. These three factors are Where, How and How Much and they are among the six that largely determine how long a job search will take. In part one, we considered the first factor, “What’s Next” and in the final post, we look at the last two factors, these being the "Market" and your “Approach” to it.
Defining your needs and preferences is important, but doing your homework to verify the viability of your wish list criteria is an equally important, yet frequently overlooked step. By defining and assessing your needs and preferences, you can exert some control over the time it will take to find your next position. This includes determining whether you have the luxury of holding out for your ideal.  
where, how and how much supply factors in job search duration

Where – What is the Geographic Target of Your Search?

Some individuals with whom we work are willing and able to relocate anywhere for the right opportunity, but most want or need to target a specific location. The geographic parameters you set for your search can significantly expand or contract the number of opportunities available and therefore “time to land.” Some caveats to this are:
  • If you are fortunate to work in a specific industry that is clustered in your target location (E.g. Pharma in New Jersey or High Tech in Silicon Valley), a narrowly defined location may not adversely impact your overall job search duration.
  • If you can apply your skills within alternative or related industries, your field of opportunity may also be minimally impacted, depending on your marketability and how receptive employers are to considering candidates with no relevant industry experience.   
To get a sense of the number and type of opportunities (and therefore how long it may take to find the right one), start by defining your desirable location(s) and industry(ies). Consider what you would be able and willing to live with if your ideal location is not attainable and map out your “Plan B”.  If it means a longer commute, consider whether it’s possible to telecommute some of the time and whether this would likely be a term that you could negotiate as part of an overall compensation and benefits package. 


  • Assess opportunities: Use search engines such as Indeed and Simply Hired to compare the number of opportunities in your target location(s) and industry(ies). Enter a zip code radius and note how many opportunities are listed. Expand your radius in follow up searches and compare the results. Study the job requirements to gauge how many are a match. Keep in mind that very senior positions are less likely to be published. You will also need to factor in the number of candidates with whom you might be competing, which we’ll consider in the next post.
  • Locate the strongest job markets: Research industries using CareerOneStop. Select your target state and assess what industries are growing and declining and/or browse the industries that are fastest growing or declining; highest paying or largest growing.
Based on what you are learning, what conclusions have you reached? What assumptions can you make? What is the overall viability of finding a matching opportunity in your target location within your desirable timeframe?

How – What Lifestyle Factors Are Important?

How refers to important lifestyle factors such as commute type and distance, work from home opportunity, hours, travel, family friendly employment practices, employer amenities etc. Lifestyle is often the first to be sacrificed by job seekers when there is a need to make compromises, but it can also be the first factor to impact overall satisfaction and success.  


  • Check reviews of employers of interest: Look up prospective target employers using Glassdoor to check out the reviews of what it’s like to work at those organizations. When you begin to network and talk to hiring employers, you can use this information to ask questions about what it's like to work in an organization of interest. 
  • Research employment practices: Check the career sections of the corporate websites too to get a picture of whether the employment practices of target employers are a good fit for you. By getting an idea of the culture and work/lifestyle, which may vary by industry and company age, you can assess whether your lifestyle factors are realistic and achievable.
Based on what you are learning, what is the likelihood of attaining or maintaining a desired lifestyle? What is essential versus desirable?

How Much – What Are Your Compensation and Benefits Requirements?

The third factor that plays a role in “time to land” is compensation and benefits. You may already have some idea of whether your last salary and benefits package was competitive, but it’s important to do a market assessment to benchmark your compensation goals in your target location(s).  


  • Identify your salary range: Use CareerOneStop's Salary Finder to find salary information for hundreds of occupations. Also compare salaries for your field for different regions, states or view typical salaries nationwide. See:
    How Jobseekers and Employers Can Use Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Data during Wage and Salary Discussions; Clayton Lindsay, April 2010 (HTML) (PDF). Other sources include Payscale, Professional Associations, network contacts and informational interviews.
  • Create a budget: We also advise putting together a monthly budget and personal financial assessment to determine how long your search should take before there is adverse impact.
In the example below, a search for Marketing Manager salaries using CareerOneStop reveals that within a relatively small geography, the median salary increases as you move north and into NY and declines as you move south of the New Jersey zip code entered.
salary finder tool
Are your compensation and benefits goals attainable? Are they realistic?


Of course, geography, lifestyle and compensation are not mutually exclusive factors. If you opt to travel further to a local city, for instance, you can earn more but it will likely impact your lifestyle. Deciding on your ideal and what you are willing to trade is part of the process. What you might be able to negotiate is another.
By being proactive, you can implement multiple strategies as necessary and reduce the overall time to land. Most job seekers begin a job search with their resume and learn if their assumptions are valid after the fact (and after wheel-spinning). By taking the time to evaluate your needs and preferences and then benchmarking those with the realities of your target job market, you can potentially reduce the time to land your next opportunity.

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”  Abraham Lincoln