Job Searches Taking Twice As Long in 2003

August 29, 2003 ( - The average job search is now taking twice as long as it did just two years ago, a trend that is projected to extend into 2004.

It is the higher-level employees who are taking the longest to land new employment. Senior executives – department heads, Senior Vice Presidents and the like – are reporting eight-month odysseys to find new work in 2003, compared with seven months last year and only three and a half months in 2001, according to data released by Right Management Consultants.

Additionally, at the very top levels, the job searches tend to take even longer. Key executives – such as Executive Vice President through Chief Executive Officer – are now requiring 22 months to find a new job, up from a mere nine months in 2001.

The group at the stratosphere of the corporate world are seeing extended job hunts for a number of reason though, said Geof Boole, Executive Vice President with Right. First, there are simply fewer opportunities at these levels. Couple that with the highest level employees wanting to make sure the water is just right before jumping in, taking into account criteria such as perks they have had before and the right career move.

Other Workers

Work down the corporate ladder, the job search rungs become shorter. Lower- to mid-level managers have landed jobs this year in an average of 5.5 months, compared to 3.3 months in 2001. More junior employees – with titles such as assistant, coordinator or project manager – are requiring 4.5 months, on average, to find new work, compared to 2.5 months two years ago.

“We have seen a dramatic jump in the amount of time an out-of-work candidate needs to find new employment,” said Boole. “Based on these new statistics, job searches have lengthened slightly this year compared to last and are significantly longer than they were two years ago.”

Job searches lengthened considerably between 2001 and 2002, which coincides with the deepening of the economic recession and even though job searches did not lengthen as dramatically this year compared to last, Boole still cautions workers that long job searches could remain the norm well into 2004. “The job market is lagging the overall economy, and companies still haven’t seen enough economic reassurance to feel confident adding to the head count just yet.”

In fact, Boole finds it entirely possible more job eliminations could occur. This is based on his observations of September historically being a re-evaluation month for staffing at many large corporations.

In addition to the length of search barometer, the study also examined the effectiveness of various job-searching tools. Not surprisingly, the most effective method for finding a new job remained networking. “We examined the effectiveness of replying to job-wanted ads, conducting Internet searches and using executive search firms. Hands down, networking led to more jobs than all of the other tactics combined,” Boole said.