How Many Jobs Should You Apply For in 2022? A Breakdown.

Here's a breakdown of how many jobs you should apply for when you're just starting out on your search, with specific strategies to increase response rates.

a month ago   •   7 min read

By Resume Worded Editorial Team
Table of contents

Applying for jobs can be a stressful task — marked by uncertainty, anticipation, and sometimes even dread. But with the right process, it doesn’t have to be.

There’s never been a better time to look for work. In the first eleven months of 2021, more than 6.1 million jobs were added to the U.S. economy, and developed countries around the world all saw some of the tightest labor market conditions and lowest unemployment rates in history — this is due to companies picking hiring back up post-2020. 2022 is expected to be no different.

Though it may seem easy to find work in this economy, applying for jobs is far from a walk in the park, and many people continue to be out of work. If you happen to be unemployed — or if you’re about to graduate — and need a job soon, then this guide is for you. Here, we’ll offer specific, actionable advice for job seekers, 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 many jobs do I have to apply for to qualify for unemployment?
  • How many jobs do I need to apply for before I finally get hired?

Let’s get to it.

Best practices

Before we get down to the specifics, let’s go over some basic but important information first. This way, you can confidently apply for jobs, knowing that you’re doing it right.

Quality over quantity when applying for jobs

For starters, quality is far more important than quantity. 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.

There are easy, 5-minute ways to tailor your application that you should check out — it doesn't have to be hard to increase the quality of each individual application.

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.

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.

How many jobs do I need to apply for before I find one?

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 with. Nonetheless, some statistics suggest that you’ll need to send out about 100-200 applications — then secure 2 to 3 interviews — before you get a job.

How to speed up your job search process

This may sound grim, but there are a few things you can do to speed up the process, which include:

  • Tailoring your resume to fit the listed job criteria using a keyword scanner like Targeted Resume (free).
  • Optimizing your resume for the 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)
  • 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 instead

If you decide to use a larger job board anyway, we recommend LinkedIn for its expansive network and transparency. Here’s guidance on:

When should I apply?

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 to make sure that you’re towards the front of the line.

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.

How can I get my dream job?

While there’s no surefire way to secure your dream job — or any job — there are things you can do if there’s a job you really want to land.

Tailor your application

First off, make sure you tailor the application well. 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 (and implied) in the job description.

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.

If there’s a job you’re really hoping to get, see if you can connect with the recruiter or hiring manager for that role. The best and easiest way to do that is via LinkedIn – so make sure you make that profile awesome!
If there’s a job you’re really hoping to get, see if you can connect with the recruiter or hiring manager for that role. The best and easiest way to do that is via LinkedIn – so make sure you make that profile awesome!

Applying for your dream job: A step-by-step guide

No matter what job you apply for, you should always do the following:

  1. Tailor your resume according to the job description
  2. If a cover letter is required, personalize at least the first paragraph
  3. Follow up with the hiring manager, especially if you don’t hear back

For your dream job, you can enhance this process by:

  1. Re-write the entire cover letter, not just the first paragraph
  2. Get the people who make hiring decisions for that role to accept your connection request on LinkedIn before you apply — not after
  3. Ask for advice first, and then ask for a job

How should I go about applying for jobs?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, try to organize a well-cadenced strategy — and then stick to it.

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.

Don't bombard the same employer

In a similar vein, don’t bombard an employer with applications to each position they post. Apply to 2 or 3 jobs per employer, but no more than that. Any more, and you’ll signal to your prospective employer that you’re unfocused and don’t know what you want.

If your application gets rejected by an employer, wait at least 6 months before re-applying, and make sure you have something new to offer, like more experience or a new skill; otherwise, you’re likely to just get rejected again.

Apply to relevant jobs only

Avoid jobs you don’t have the experience for. We’ll say it bluntly: you’re highly unlikely to get an offer for a job that’s not a good fit for your background — so skip it. It’s a waste of time, and you’re better off applying for the jobs that you both want and stand a chance to get.

Shoot for quality

Spend more time on each application and customize it for each role you’re applying to. This is far more effective than blasting out applications you hardly put any effort into. In the former case, you may only get a few replies, but they’re more likely to be an invitation to an interview than in the latter case, where you’d receive far more replies — and far more rejections.

How much time should I spend when applying to jobs?

This depends on your situation.

If you’re employed, you can lower the bar a bit. It’s difficult to apply for jobs on top of your full-time job, so aim for a realistic goal — say just 10-15 hours a week — and feel free to hold out for the right fit. Also, try to only apply during your spare time — don’t apply on company time (or at least avoid using your company's laptop or computers).

On the other hand, if you’re a new grad — if you’re unemployed — treat applying for jobs like a full-time job, and dedicate at least 20-30 hours a week to your job hunt. It’s a good way to make sure you stay eligible for unemployment, since most states have an active job search requirement in place. Check with your state’s workforce, labor, or employment department for more details — they will offer you more guidance on staying eligible and will also have resources to help you find work.

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