Applying for jobs can be a stressful task — marked by uncertainty, anticipation, and sometimes even dread. If you're just starting out in the process — or if you've been applying for jobs for a while without success — you probably have questions like:
- How many jobs should I apply for at once?
- How many jobs should I apply for in a day? What about a week?
- How much time should I spend applying for jobs?
- How many jobs do I need to apply for before I finally get hired?
The good news is, there’s never been a better time to look for work. Last year, more than 6.1 million jobs were added to the U.S. economy, and 2022 is expected to be no different. If you're unemployed, about to graduate, or just looking to make a change, this guide is for you.
Let's dive in with specific, actionable advice for job seekers — and the answers to your burning questions.
How many jobs to apply for
In general, you should aim to apply for 2-3 jobs per day, or around 10-15 jobs per week.
If you're unemployed
You know the saying, "applying for work is a full-time job?" Well, that's an exaggeration, but not a huge one. If you have the time, you can aim slightly higher — around 3-5 jobs. per day. Any more than that and not only do you risk burning yourself out, but it's also unlikely that you're submitting high-quality applications to positions that are genuinely a good fit.
If you're about to graduate
Recent or upcoming graduates should also aim for a slightly higher volume of job applications — around 15-20 per week. This accounts for the larger applicant pool you're up against, as well as the fact that you're likely applying to jobs without a lot of relevant work experience.
If you're currently employed
If you're working full-time, chances are you don't have a lot of spare time to dedicate to job hunting. The good news is, looking for jobs while you're still employed gives you a bit of leverage, so focus on sending fewer, well-tailored applications.
If you're applying for higher-level roles
If you're applying for senior management or executive positions, you should be spending the same amount of time job searching but sending out fewer applications. You may only send out one application per day, but it should reflect your higher level of expertise in your field.
How much time to spend on a job application
There's no single answer to how much time you should spend on each job application, but there are a couple of general rules to keep in mind:
- Focus on quality, not quantity. It's better to spend more time applying for fewer positions than vice versa.
- If you're currently employed, limit your job search to 10-15 hours per week at night and on the weekend. Don’t apply for jobs on company time — or at least avoid using your company's laptop or computers.
- If you’re unemployed, dedicate at least 20-30 hours a week to your job hunt. This is also a good way to make sure you stay eligible for unemployment, since most states have an active job search requirement in place.
- The higher level the job, the more time you should spend on your application. If you're applying for a bunch of similar entry-level jobs, each application may only need a few tweaks to personalize it, but if you're aiming for the C-suite, plan to spend several hours at least on one application.
How many jobs in total you should apply for
Disappointingly, there’s no "magic number" of jobs you have to apply for before you’re guaranteed a role. It all depends on what you’re looking for — and what you’re willing to settle for. Nonetheless, here are some statistics:
- The average job seeker sends out at least 100-200 applications over the course of their job search — sometimes as high as 400.
- Each company will interview between 6-10 people for a single position.
- Most positions require 2-3 interviews with the same company before you're successful.
- The average length of the hiring process for a single position is 3-4 weeks.
- Finding a new job can take up to 6 months — so don't leave it to the last minute!
How to speed up your job search
If it feels like you're sending out endless applications without any callbacks, there are a few things you can do to speed up the process:
- Have a consistent routine.
- Avoid resume bombing.
- Identify your niche and stick to applying for relevant jobs.
- Tailor your resume to fit the listed job criteria using a free keyword scanner.
- Optimizing your resume for Applicant Tracking Systems.
- Forgo larger job sites in favor of niche job boards.
- Follow up with the hiring manager to make sure your application didn't slip through the cracks.
- Use your network by reaching out to existing contacts and recruiters in your field.
- Aim for quality over quantity.
Have a routine and don’t cram it
Generally, the best way to approach applying for jobs is to be consistent. Start a routine and set aside a bit of time each day or week — a few hours every morning, for example — and commit to that schedule, every day, until you hit a certain goal (e.g., get 5 interviews, receive 2 offers, etc.)
Don’t try to apply in bulk, or do a marathon sprint of 30 applications back-to-back in a single day. That’s likely to lower the quality of your applications, and isn’t going to help you much.
Avoid resume bombing
Avoid “resume bombing” — sending out dozens or even hundreds of low-quality applications to jobs you might not be qualified for at all — and instead focus on applying for roles that are a good fit for your background, which can mean targeting jobs related to your major, industry, skillset, or level of seniority.
As a job seeker, you’re probably sending out dozens of applications every week but you might be compromising on quality of each application — a good way to make sure you’re sending high quality applications and highlighting the right skills and experience is to upload your resume to the tool below - it’ll give you a detailed review of your resume and personalised suggestions for improvement.
Identify the job niches you want to apply for
For example, if you’ve just graduated with a marketing degree in hand, skip the middle-level manager roles, or positions outside the communications, marketing, sales, business development, and public relations industries. Niche down and target entry-level jobs that fit your skillset well, and you’re going to land a role sooner than you think.
Target your resume to the job you want
For your dream job, write a cover letter from scratch (or at least personalize the first paragraph), draft a new resume, and ensure that both your resume and cover letter contain the skills and keywords listed in the job description.
There are easy, 5-minute ways to tailor your application that you should check out — it doesn't take a lot of time or effort to increase the quality of each individual application.
You can easily target your resume to the job you want by including specific hard skills and keywords that are relevant to the job. Use the tool below to find relevant ones.
Ensuring your resume gets past resume screeners
Optimizing your resume for Applicant Tracking System (ATS) — the software used by hiring managers and recruiters to screen candidates — by making use of a resume scanner (Score My Resume is an effective one).
Use niche job boards
Forgoing larger job sites that contain a smorgasbord of jobs, and looking for niche job sites that only post open positions in certain industries or sub-fields, is one of the best ways to efficiently maximize your time when job searching.
If you decide to use a larger job board anyway, we recommend LinkedIn for its expansive network and transparency. Here’s guidance on:
- How to use LinkedIn to find and apply for jobs
- How to get in touch with recruiters on LinkedIn to inquire about openings
- How to network effectively, join groups, and get introductions on LinkedIn
- How to optimize your LinkedIn profile
Follow up for the jobs you really want
With hundreds of applications to go through, employers may not have much time on their hands and will often forget to communicate with you — so the onus is on you to follow up if you haven’t heard from them in a while. In general, you can follow up one to two weeks after you send in your application, unless otherwise noted in the job posting.
Connect with recruiters
Next, feel free to contact recruiters for those roles or build a relationship with someone working at relevant companies. You don’t even have to take drastic measures to do this — making sure your LinkedIn is well-polished is sometimes all you need to land a new connection. It’s acceptable to spend a lot more time and energy on applications for your dream job(s) — so long as you are realistic in your expectations and apply for other positions as well.
Quality over quantity
Above all else, always prioritize quality over quantity when applying for jobs. Sending out five targeted and well-polished applications each tailored to the job posting is going to do you far more good than firing off 50 generic, copy-and-pasted job applications. Remember, you’re aiming for positive responses here — like an invitation to an interview (or even a job offer) — so it’s worth your time to make each one as good as you can.
Frequently Asked Questions
Still have questions? Check out this list of FAQs.
How many applicants are competing for each job?
This one definitely depends on the specific job, industry, and level of hierarchy. On average, 118 candidates apply for a single job, but this number is likely to be much higher for entry-level positions and lower for higher level or more specialized roles.
When should I apply for jobs?
Apply as soon as you can — the earlier, the better. Some jobs have rolling applications, which means that recruiters and hiring managers will interview potential job candidates and make hiring decisions as applications come in. This means that the job could be filled well before the stated deadline, so it’s better to get your foot in the door sooner rather than later.
Should I apply for multiple jobs at the same company?
In general, no. Applying for multiple roles at the same company — especially if they're for completely different positions — can make it seem like you're blindly applying for every job you can find. Try to identify 2-3 positions that best suit your career focus and expertise, and put your time and effort into those.
Can I reapply for a job after I've been unsuccessful?
Can you reapply immediately? No. Hiring managers reject candidates for a reason, even if you don't understand (or agree with) it. Reapplying immediately isn't likely to get you a different result, and at worst, it could get you blacklisted as someone who can't take no for an answer.
On the other hand, if the same job is still open 6-12 months after you initially applied and you think you're more qualified now (because you have more relevant experience or qualifications), feel free to resubmit. Just make sure you use a fresh resume and cover letter!
How many jobs do I have to apply for to qualify for unemployment?
Eligibility and details of unemployment benefits will depend on the exact state you're located in. For more guidance, check the U.S. government unemployment help website.