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How Long Does It Take To Find a New Job? Mark Swartz, M.B.A. M.Ed.

About the Author

Mark Swartz, MBA, M.Ed., is Canada's Career Activist. His insights reach millions yearly as the Workopolis.com Career Advisor, as author of the best seller "Get Wired, You're Hired," also as a professional speaker and coach on career/work issues. A former Toronto Star careers columnist, Mark's advice is forthright and practical. For Canada's biggest directory of free career articles, and for personalized coaching, please visit www.CareerActivist.com.

Question: I have been trying to get hired for over three months now. I look at Workopolis and other job banks every day and my resume is posted on these same databases, I have been networking into the hidden job market too, and recruiters know that I'm looking. Should I be nervous at this point? Or is it normal for hiring to take this much time? I make about $65,000 a year.
Jamal N., Hamilton, Ontario
Dear Jamal,

There are accepted ''rules of thumb'' for estimating the amount of time it might take to find new employment. However these are based on a number of factors, such as the following:

* How much you earn: Generally, the more you make the longer it takes. I have often heard it said that one month for every $10,000 of your salary (e.g. if you earn $60,000 a year it could take you as many as six months to find appropriate employment) is a reasonable estimate.

* The type of industry you are in: Do you happen to work in forestry? Manufacturing? The automotive sector? If so, chances are you will need extra time, because these areas are in decline here in Canada. But if you are a doctor who is willing to work in less populated areas of our country, a professional engineer, certified accountant, (or under-the-table immigrant willing to acccept less than minimum wage for skilled trades such as construction), you can pretty well be assured - at this point in time - of getting hired pretty darned quickly.

* Where you are located geographically: Go west, young man and woman. The unemployment rate in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba are well below the rest of Canada. With the exception of Newfoundland out east, since Danny Williams recently stood up to the major oil producers and revived the Hebron offshore oil development project.

* Your skills, experience and credentials: Everyone competes for a job, no matter where you are or what sector you're in. The more relevant experience that you possess, the better you are (in a proven, quantifiable way) at doing your job, and the greater your academic or designation credentials, the better your chances are of getting called in for an interview.

* How well you present yourself at interviews: It goes without saying that the most qualifed candidates are unlikely to get hired unless they can impress interviewers. What this means is that you need to polish how you respond to questions; how your body language and wardrobe reflect your professionalism and eagerness; and the way you follow up after blowing them away in person.

* The preferences of specific hiring managers: It's an unfortunate fact that no matter how prepared, qualified, or presentable you are, there are some hiring managers who will reject you simply because of their built-in prejudice. For example, I was once passed over for a job because (as I was later told) the woman who I'd have worked for was looking for a female candidate so that she could be buddies with them. Interesting note - 10 days later the woman who actually got the job quit suddenly, and I was offered the position instead!

* The number and quality of competitors who apply: The most favourable way to compete is to combine your various advantages. Anyone can be a call centre associate. But how many are bilingual as well? Most people here have ''Canadian experience.'' But how many also have an international background and multiple languages or more than one academic degree or credential or numerous industries in which they've worked?

I suggest that you prepare a financial plan (with the help of an unbiased expert, such as a Certified Financial Planner), that gives you at least three extra months beyond the typical time it would take to get hired. This enables you to reject the first offer that comes your way, if you are confident that you can do better. Please keep in mind that once you accept an offer and start working again, you are essentially starting from scratch with your new employer. Hence it makes sense to give yourself as much time as possible to not only secure a good position, but in which to prove yourself and determine if this new job is an acceptable fit for you.

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