When I was living on Maui and trying to move back to the mainland, I felt frustrated by just how slow the job search was going. I scoured the job boards almost every day, just waiting until my ‘perfect’ opportunity came along. I put in one application after another, just to hear nothing back, even though I got licensed in Florida before starting my job search.
In the end, it was about a year.
I read a lot of articles at that time on how long it takes to find a job. They generally either argued ‘it depends’ (it doesn’t help much to read that) or they cited national statistics. The problem is, national statistics that compile all professions don’t help much because not only is your situation unique but the market for an individual profession can vary widely from the national job market.
From my experience, here are some important factors that truly affect the length of your job search:
Time of Year
Numerous studies have cited the seasonal variation in hiring, with the New Year being a busy time (new budgets are approved, everyone is back from the holidays), summer being slow (everyone is on vacation), and Thanksgiving and December very slow (everyone is on vacation or has the holidays on their mind). While you should look all year round if you’re searching for another job, the season will definitely affect your chances. Check out this article for a month-by-month breakdown of seasonal trends.
Your Qualifications, Resume, Interviewing Skills, and Online Presence
None of these will create a job, but they’ll put you at the top of the list for getting a job. I highly recommend hiring a resume writer, cleaning up any potential garbage you have on social media, and understanding the basic interview process as well as interview styles and response techniques.
Too many people use the word network loosely. This doesn’t mean you ‘added a connection’ on LinkedIn for someone you’ve never met, unless you have a true reason for reaching out to them and actually follow up with a private message. I’ve gotten to know some great people that way, but it is certainly not passive to do so. Outside of that, networking means getting to know people in your profession, in the healthcare environment in your community, and on local boards and committees. Actually, according to some estimates, the number of jobs filled through networking is at least 70 percent.
Anyone in pharmacy knows the demand for pharmacists (in the traditional sense) is declining fast, so it’s going to take me longer to get a job as a retail pharmacist than it would take a physician to get a job. Here are some demand statistics for common healthcare professions as well as how long it has been estimated it will take to find a job:
According to the BLS, the demand for pharmacists will remain relatively unchanged between 2018-2028. This unchanged demand, coupled with rapid growth in the number of pharmacy schools as well as expansion of mail-order pharmacies, has most pharmacists worried about their long-term job prospects. Still, one study that surveyed pharmacy graduates over 2013-2017 found that 86 percent had job, fellowship, or residency placement after graduation.
The BLS predicts a 12 percent increase in demand for RNs over the period 2018-2028, which translates to 371,500 new jobs. They predict that nurses with a BSN remain more competitive for jobs, especially in big cities with more nurses vying for the same position. Another study found 73 percent of all BSN graduates had a job at graduation and 94 percent had a job within six months of graduation.
The demand for physical therapists is going to grow rapidly over the period 2018-2028, according to the BLS. A 22 percent job growth will result in 54,200 new jobs, so it’s a good time to be in physical therapy.
A different paper by the American Physical Therapy Association projected demand for physical therapists assuming varying attrition rates. Even with the lowest assumption, demand outpaced supply until at least 2024. At the highest attrition rate, they project a shortage of 9,592 physical therapists in 2025.
Bonus: Consider Working with a Staffing Company
Even if you keep searching the job boards, why not get in touch with a staffing company to see what they’ve got? Many of those positions might not be advertised elsewhere, so you can have more exclusive access to the opportunity.
Also, with the myriad ways you can go wrong applying cold on a company website (ex. creating a resume not computer-readable), staffing companies take much of the guesswork out by directly connecting with you and with the potential employer. Doing so can lead to a job much quicker and even if you are looking for a long-term position at a company, short-term assignments can build experience, give you an inside look at companies you might want to work for longer, and give you a chance to get to know the individuals inside those companies. In fact, it’s not uncommon for companies to hire locum tenens into permanent positions after their assignment.