Hi! I’m Suzanne.

I am an executive recruiter and career coach.

My life’s mission is to teach the best and brightest professionals how to manage their careers so they can accelerate, advance and grow in their dream career.

Do You Know How Long Your Job Search Should Take? 

by Suzanne

Use this formula to estimate a realistic timeline for your search so you can plan accordingly.

If you took the time last week, you’ve already defined what your ideal job looks like. If you haven’t yet read my post on the importance of defining your ideal job at the START of your search, you can find it here.

Why Defining Your Time Frame Matters

Finding a new job can be time consuming, and adding a career change on top of it can be overwhelming. It’s hard to know where to start, or how to actually achieve the change you think you want.

Timing often muddies the waters, as the decision to make a job change usually comes with a little impatience. What’s more, if you don’t know what to expect in terms of timing, any setback or decline in your process could feel like failure and set you on the path to compromise.  One “no” doesn’t mean the job you’ve chosen is impossible to get.  It simply means the fit wasn’t there for the job you were considering.

When you set a timeline up front, you’ll have the confidence to know that every “no” you receive is one step closer to the “yes” you need, and you’ll also be prepared to reconsider the type of work you’re looking for if things stretch too long.

First and foremost, getting a clear understanding of what kind of career change you’re looking for will help you develop a realistic time frame for you to achieve the change, and can help ease the way to creating a plan that will work for you.

The 5 Types of Career Change

1. Promotion

This is the most overlooked career change, and perhaps the most important as it’s the most common. Promotions are harder to come by as you climb the ladder, and frequently taking your skills and expertise to market is the only way to get the promotion, title and responsibilities that you deserve.  While a promotion is the next logical step in your career and the most straight forward change, it’s important to acknowledge that what got you here, won’t get you there, and you need to put some time, thought and planning into approaching your next step.

2. Changing Location

Whatever the reason, you may be looking to move, but the network that’s helped you get you where you are, might not be able to help you in your new city of choice.

3. Changing Industry

Most people decide to change industry because they want to find more meaning in their work. Industry changers often find themselves getting excited about their work again, but sometimes take a step back to get their foot in the door.  Remember that once you move to a lower level, the experience clock resets, and it’s highly unlikely your previous experience will be acknowledged with a big promotion come review time. Building a strong network in your new industry of choice can help you navigate a change without taking a step back.


“Building a strong network in your new industry of choice can help you navigate a change without taking a step back.”

4. Changing Job type/function

If you just hate the type of work you’re doing day in and day out, then this one is for you.  This is usually a mid-career change, and rarely happen at the executive level unless you’re looking to expand your scope (vs. completely shift).  If you are mid-career and looking to make this kind of change, NOW IS THE TIME. Consider the activities you do less of (but love) and try to identify an area of the business where you could do more of those things. For example, if you’re an excellent relationship builder, you might want to move into sales.  If you’re in marketing and truly enjoy the analytics side of things, you may have a future in data analytics. Your network of advisors can help you better understand where you might want to take your career, but once you make a choice, you’ll need to work hard on your branding and messaging to make sure you’re sending the right message to potential hiring managers.

5. Changing Everything (particularly if you’re unhappy in your current job)

If you’re incredibly unhappy in your current job, you may be thinking of changing it all, which can lead to analysis paralysis.  You know you want a change, but can’t figure out what exactly you want to do, and quite frankly, you probably don’t have the space, time or energy to figure it out, if you’re already suffering in your current job.  You don’t have to do it all at once.  Consider making just 1 of the above changes (changing industry is often the easiest in this case).  Doing so will give you exposure to all of the different types of roles within a new industry, which might help you make a better, more permanent decision in the long run.

Here’s How Each Type of Change will Impact Your Job Search

Determine your timeline

The type of change your making, and the number of changes you make will impact the timeline for your search. At the executive level, a company takes 90 days (on average) to fill a position.  And that’s once the company has posted the job…but you probably won’t want, or be qualified for, every job that’s posted, so you’re going to need to allow extra time for the right jobs to become available.  Generally speaking, if you’re planning on making 1 change, I’d allow 3-6 months to find a great job…2 changes or more, and you should plan for 6-12 months.

“Generally speaking, if you’re planning on making 1 change, I’d allow 3-6 months to find a great job…2 changes or more, and you should plan for 6-12 months.”

Clarify your approach and focus

You may need to put some extra effort into a particular area of your job search that you wouldn’t otherwise need to worry about. I’ve noted a few of those areas (network, messaging, branding) above, and it’s important to think through how your change will require a new approach in each of those areas, so you can address it.

Your Actionable Next Step – Do This Now!

Clarify the changes you’re planning to make and write them down, along with your realistic timeline. Bonus points for identifying the areas you’ll need to work on in order to make that change happen (network, messaging, branding, skills, etc.)