How long should you spend on a job application?

Apr 6, 2016 3:29:11 PM

There are many reasons one might start a new job hunt; unhappy in their current setting, looking for the next step up or unforeseen circumstances thrust them into a job search when they least expect it.

Looking at the reasons above, it means every approach to a job application will be different. Someone looking for a step up, for example, might play the long game to ensure they are fully ready to progress in the right environment. On the other end of the scale, if someone has to find a new position after an unexpected turn of events the search will probably be more frantic.

With this in mind, we wanted to look at how long people actually spend on a single application and answer the question, how long should you spend on a job application? Our findings cover everything from time reading the job description to submitting your details. 

Applying for jobs today

There are so many job boards today that allow job seekers to set up accounts and keep up to date with the latest roles. Not forgetting LinkedIn, where getting in touch with recruiters or companies directly is easier than ever.

How does this affect applications? Let’s focus on the ‘Quick Apply’ feature that has become so predominant on online job boards. With an account set up, a potential candidate will have their CV and cover letter information saved. The quick apply button essentially sends this through immediately, making the application process last minutes.

Is reading a job ad enough? Sure if the candidate is fortunate enough to get to learn more about these ‘quick apply’ roles, they can easily decide it’s not for them. There are a few reasons why this is not good job search etiquette:

  • Would recruiters appreciate taking the time to contact you about a role only to find you haven’t really done any research, or taken time to think about the application? It wouldn’t invite the greatest of recruiter – candidate relationships.
  • The same goes for a direct application. Hiring bodies within companies are very eager to get a new recruit…the hiring process is hard for them too. Don’t apply directly unless you are 100% sure the company and the role is for you.
  • Ultimately, it wastes your time too. Focusing on roles you truly resonate with means you will spend that time better on a quality application.

How long should you spend on a job application?

How long should you spend on a job application

Our quick poll suggests that most people prefer to spend at least 30 minutes on an application…62% to be exact! 38% of our respondents spend up to 30 minutes while ‘more than an hour’ received no responses.

It’s clear from this that while an hour is deemed too long, a good time to really focus on a good application is between 30-60 minutes. Why is this?

  • The job description deserves a few reads, just to compute the key information.
  • It’s great to have a general CV, especially if you have it displayed on visible online accounts. However, it’s always important to have a quick look over before you submit your CV. One position might find one skill more desirable than another, so it would be great to highlight exactly what makes you perfect for what they are looking for.
  • Of course, some job seekers prefer more generalised roles in their industry (for example, a Digital Marketing candidate might avoid an email focussed role and search only for broad marketing roles. They might choose not to tailor the CV for this reason.) Knowing exactly what you want saves time in a job search.
  • Cover letters are also great to expand on certain details and grab the attention of the employer. Having a basic template is great, but tailor these to each application.
  • If a recruiter you are working with has approached you with a role and asks if you have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask them!
  • Company research; website and social media accounts will give you a good idea of knowing if the company is for you.

The ultimate time saving tip for a job search is…taking your time. No matter what stage of the job search you are in and no matter how urgent, it is important to approach each application with genuine interest and hunger for the role.

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What do you think?

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