by Meridith Levinson

How Long Have You Been Looking for a Job?

Jun 26, 20092 mins

Executives can expect to be on the hunt at least a year, says one executive recruiter.

Earlier this week, I spoke with Joe Goodwin, president of Atlanta-based executive search firm The Goodwin Group. He says it’s taking out-of-work executives an average of 12 months to find a new job during this recession.

This new benchmark for the amount of time it will take an unemployed executive to find a job is at least three times longer than it took executive recruiters to place candidates when the economy was good. (I remember speaking with headhunters a few years ago who told me at the time that it takes them three to four months to place a candidate with a client.)

“A few years ago, you could count on getting three interviews during the first three months you were out of work,” says Goodwin. “Out of that, generally speaking and assuming your qualifications are there, you were probably going to get an offer. Based on what I’m seeing in the market today, it’s now probably taking 10 to 12 interviews to yield the same results.”  

If you’re averaging one interview a month in this job market, adds Goodwin, you’re doing very well.  

Executive job seekers must realize that their job search will likely last a year. Job searches are taking longer because so few companies are hiring, and for each position that is open, hundreds of highly qualified candidates are applying. So it’s taking employers longer to evaluate all of those candidates.

Nevertheless, Goodwin says many executives are underestimating the time required to find a new job in the current market. Consequently, he says, they’re getting discouraged too early in the process, and they’re accepting lesser jobs or giving up altogether.  

If you’re unemployed and getting discouraged, do yourself a favor: Cut yourself some slack and remember, “It’s not you. It’s the economy.”