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Written by Charlotte GraingerCharlotte Grainger

How many applications does it take to get a job? Here’s the real answer

17 min read
How many applications does it take to get a job? Here’s the real answer
Artwork by:Pablo Cammello
When you’re job seeking, it can feel like things are taking a lifetime. So, how many applications does it take to get a new job? Let’s take a look at the facts now.

Landing your dream job all starts with a simple application. However, once you’ve ticked all of the boxes and clicked that “send” button, the hard part starts. Waiting to hear back from a potential employer can be somewhat excruciating. There’s no way you can hurry a response out of them. Instead, you need to sit tight and wait for the phone to ring.

If you’re caught in the never-ending labyrinth of applying for new jobs, it’s okay to feel frustrated. The best of us do! While you’re sprucing up your resume, filling out masses of online forms, and writing cover letters, you may have one question on your mind: How many applications does it take to get a job? Luckily for you, you’ve come to the right place.

Here at Resume.io, we have everything you need to guide you through the job-seeking process. Whether you’re looking for your first entry-level role or the next step on the career ladder, we can take you by the hand and lead the way. In the following guide, we cover: 

  • How many applications it really takes to land an interview and a job
  • Why companies take so long to get back to you when you’ve applied
  • The best ways to handle application rejection if and when it happens
  • Why you’re not hearing back from the businesses to which you’ve applied
  • Expert-backed advice on how you can boost your chances of landing a role

If you’re in the middle of applying for new jobs, let us show you the way. Check out our complete resume writing guide now and get the inside scoop on how to perfect it.

Book full of colourful papers
Book full of colourful papers

How many applications does it take to get a job?

When you’re applying for new roles, it can feel like a never-ending battle. While there is no exact science to how many applications this will take, we can guesstimate. Taking a look at the average will give you an idea of how many applications you need to complete. 

So, let’s take a look at the facts here. Well, it takes between 100 and 200 applications to land a job, according to information from Lehigh University. The report also revealed that each job application had around an 8.3% chance of turning into an interview. 

Of course, when you are knee-deep in job applications, you may wonder how many you should be completing. As a golden rule, you should aim to complete between five and 10 applications each week. That way, you will increase your chances of getting a new role. 

Statistical insight

Revealed: The recruitment talent gap!

If you’re applying for jobs and having no luck, it can be frustrating. However, recent research from staffing group Manpower revealed that 77% of recruiters were having difficulty filling vacancies. That statistic is a 17-year high! 

The reason for this challenge may be down to a “talent gap”. That is to say that the candidates applying for roles don’t have the required skills-set for the job. As a result, many recruiters are looking further afield when advertising new job openings. 

The same report found that nearly three in five organizations (57%) plan to offer more flexibility to workers in a bid to overcome the talent gap. By introducing remote working, companies can hire candidates from all over the country or world, widening their pool.

Looking to land your next role? You might want to consider upskilling. There are plenty of ways to do that. You can take an evening class, complete courses online, or look for other opportunities. Investing in your education is a massive green flag to recruiters. 

Don’t be disheartened! The truth is that it takes a long time to hear back from recruiters and potential employers. While you’re applying to various openings, it’s important to keep that in mind. You can’t expect overnight results (and nor should you!). Hold on in there! 

Statistical insight

Key job seeks statistics

When you’re applying for new jobs, it pays to keep your eyes on the prize. So, how clued up are you and what do you need to know? Let’s take a look at some key stats: 

How long does it take to find a job on average?

You’ve set your sights on getting a new job… So, how long should you expect this process to take? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of April 2023, it takes an average of 20.9 weeks to find a new job. Of course, this number fluctuates on a regular basis. 

With that in mind, when you start looking for a new position, you need to make sure that you set aside an adequate amount of time. Sure, you might be lucky. You might land a new role within a few weeks of applying. That’s great news, should it happen. However, you need to be as realistic as possible when you are starting your initial job search. 

Feeling anxious about finding a new role? Don’t panic. As we will cover later in this guide, there are plenty of ways that you can speed up your job search. While you cannot wave a magic wand and get your dream job in seconds, it’s worth looking at ways to boost it. 

Why do companies take so long to get back to you?

While you’re playing the waiting game and counting the days, you may be wondering what the hold-up is. That’s perfectly natural. However, as we have covered, it could take a matter of weeks before you hear back from a specific employer. It’s important not to panic and presume the worst. With that in mind, here are some of the reasons it’s taking so long.

The key decision-maker is on leave

It takes more than one person to decide who to hire. But you knew that already. It’s not merely the interviewer who sits in front of you or the recruiter who reviews your resume. No, there are many different people in the company who need to help decide. So, should a key decision-maker be on leave or vacation, that will doubtless slow the process down. 

There has been a change in the company

The only constant in life is change, or so the old saying goes. If you haven’t heard back after applying for a role, the reason may be that something has shifted within the business. Perhaps there were a series of layoffs. Maybe a huge project just came in. You don’t have a crystal ball, so you can’t predict what has happened here. However, these changes can directly impact how long a specific recruiter takes to reply to your application. 

The recruiter is trying to schedule things 

Scheduling can be an issue — especially in large-scale businesses. When you apply for a role, you don’t get to see the inner workings of the company. The recruiter may be working with the decision-makers to find the right time to schedule interviews. That could mean that it takes longer than you expected to hear back regarding your application or resume.

Companies receive mass amounts of applications

One of the most common reasons for companies taking so long to get back to you is that they have a lot of applications to sift through. Think about it — if hundreds of savvy applicants all go for the same position, that’s a whole load of work for the recruiter. The more popular the vacancy happens to be, the more likely a recruiter is to take their time.

How to handle application rejection and learn from it

Shall we deal with the elephant in the room? Sometimes, the reason you haven’t heard back from a company is because you have been unsuccessful. Rejection stings, especially if you had pinned all of your career aspirations on this position.

If you haven’t made it to the interview stage of the process, your feelings might be hurt. Allow yourself to wallow in that emotion for a day or two. When you’ve done that, it’s time to get moving. You can use this experience as a learning curve. There was a reason that your resume didn’t quite “wow” the recruiter as you expected it might. What was it?

Ask the employer that simple question. Getting some feedback from the recruiter will help you to understand what went wrong and how you can improve things in the future. It may be that you lack certain skills, that there were errors in your resume, or that you don’t have enough experience. Whatever the reason happens to be, there’s room for improvement. 

Expert tip

Keep getting rejected? Make sure you beat the bots! 

If you’ve been applying for positions for a long time and had no responses, there may be a reason for that. Many companies now use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to rank incoming applications by how well they fit the job specification. The software searches for keywords and phrases in each resume and ranks the application according to that. 

Should a resume lack the specific keywords the program is looking for, it will end up on the “junk” pile before a human even lays eyes on it. So, if you find yourself falling short of the mark each time, it may be that your application isn’t getting through this gate.

There’s a simple way to get over this hurdle. Check out the original job advertisement and pick out some of the job-specific words listed there. Weaving these throughout your resume will help you optimize it for the ATS software. Give it a go! 

Knowledge is power. Taking the time to find out what the reason was is a smart move. It gives you the opportunity to learn and develop yourself professionally. That may mean gaining more qualifications, going for a lower-level position, or taking on more training. 

5 Reasons you’re not landing your dream job

Picture the scene: You’ve been sending out job applications left, right, and center. But, as yet, nothing has happened. No matter how many resumes you send to recruiters or how many forms you fill in, you’re not getting the results you want. So, what’s the problem? If you’re scratching your head on this one, here are five reasons you’re being unsuccessful.  

1. You’re going for jobs that are out of your league

“Shooting for the stars” is a great mentality to have. However, if you’re applying for jobs that are way above your current pay grade, you might want to change tack. Should you find that your applications are constantly rejected, you need to reevaluate the type of roles you’re going for. It may be worth speaking to a career mentor to get an accurate idea of where to start.

2. You lack the skills needed for this position 

Did we mention the talent gap? Recruiters are begging for candidates that have the right skills for the role. When you’re applying for jobs, make sure that you have the skills listed in the core job criteria. Should you find yourself lacking in them, that may be a sign that you need to do some additional training. Invest in yourself and your future. 

3. You’re not tailoring your job applications 

When you apply to a certain company, do you tweak your resume? If the answer is no, you’re missing a trick. Failing to tailor your applications will get you nowhere fast. Hiring managers want to see that you have both an interest in and a knowledge of the business. Make sure you read the job criteria and research the company before you start applying. 

4. There are common mistakes in your resume 

Be honest for a moment: Have you proofread your resume? Spelling mistakes and grammatical errors simply won’t fly. Hiring managers are looking for any reason to say a big “no way!” to potential employees. If your resume is littered with problems, that is all they need. It shows them that you lack attention to detail or don’t care about the role. 

5. You haven’t updated your online profile 

It’s not merely about your resume or application. If an employer is interested in you professionally, they will take a look at you online. A quick Google will tell them everything that they need to know. If it’s been five years since you updated your LinkedIn profile, now is the time to do it. You should also make sure your Twitter is professional or locked down. 

How to boost your chances of getting a job fast 

We’ve talked about the potential problems — so let’s talk about some solutions. If you’re sick and tired of missing out on opportunities, you need to do something about it. Boosting your chances of career success is easier than you might imagine. Here are some tips: 

Revamp and optimize your resume 

Making sure your resume says all the right things is a baseline requirement. If you keep getting rejected or ignored, you need to revamp this important document. Should you be unsure where to start, take a look at our field-tested resume templates. Additionally, be sure to use job-specific keywords throughout your resume to optimize it for the ATS. 

Tailor your cover letter and resume 

A well-thought-out cover letter and tailored resume will go a long way here. Recruiters look at hoards of applications when they are trying to fill a vacancy. You need to stand out from the crowd. Take the time to tailor these documents to suit the business to which you are applying and the role you want to fill. The more specific you are, the better your chances. 

Look into expanding your job search

Do you always look in the same places when seeking new positions? If you want different results, you’re going to have to find a different approach. Look into ways to expand your job search. That may mean finding out about vacancies through networking, speaking to other professionals, looking on different job sites, or even searching via social media. The wider you can cast your net when finding a role, the more opportunities you will catch.

Key takeaways

  • You can’t expect to land your dream job overnight. It may take hundreds of applications before you manage to get your next role.
  • Don’t be disheartened! When you have applied for a new job, you need to be patient and wait for the recruiter to get back to you.
  • Optimize your resume for the ATS. Pick out specific keywords and phrases from the job advertisement and use them in your resume.
  • Not sure where to start? Make sure your resume is up to speed by checking out our library of 350+ resume examples.
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Use professional field-tested resume templates that follow the exact ‘resume rules’ employers look for.
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