Man sitting on building steps

It takes 16 weeks to get a new job

Elizabeth Bromstein|

Is it taking a while for you to find a job? Don’t get frustrated.

Getting work takes time. Job searches can last anywhere from two days to over a year, but for most people the quest lasts roughly four months. According to our latest Thinkopolis report, Thinkopolis IV: Time to Work, The largest group, 50 per cent of people surveyed, said that it took approximately 16 weeks to secure their most recent job. (This is slightly shorter than the Canadian average duration of unemployment-period reported by Statistics Canada as being 20.6 weeks as of January 2014.)

Getting work also takes work. The majority of Canadians (65 per cent) say that they applied to more than 10 opportunities before being hired for their most recent job. Most people (80 per cent) say that they apply for at least five jobs just in order to secure one job interview.

Once you land the interview, however, things start looking up. Just over half (56 per cent) of candidates said that they only had to conduct one or two job interviews in order to be hired. A further 30 per cent of people said that they needed to perform five or more job interviews before being hired for their most recent job.

How many jobs did you interview for before being hired for your most recent job?

    Just the one – 43%
    Two – 13%
    Three or four – 14%
    Five or more job interviews – 30%

Meanwhile, the most irritating part of this entire report is the number of employers who don’t bother to follow up with a candidate after an interview to let them know whether they got the job or not. While nearly a quarter of employers (24 per cent) get back to candidates within a week of the job interview, a surprising 44 per cent never respond at all.

How long did it take the employer to respond after your last interview?

    24 hours to a week – 24%
    One to two weeks – 18%
    Over two weeks – 14%
    I never heard back at all – 44%

Advice for Candidates:

While candidates should send a thank you note after every job interview, if you haven’t heard from the employer in the time specified (or in a reasonable amount of time), it is okay to write in a second time. Use this follow-up to restate your enthusiasm for the job and to highlight how you are the right fit for it. Refer to the interview specifically, demonstrating that you pay attention to detail and recall key information.

Advice for employers:

It is important to respond to each candidate who is interviewed. Every interested candidate who applies for a job should have a positive experience with your company. Any time you can interact with a candidate is an opportunity to enhance your company’s employment brand. The candidate may be disappointed if they are not hired, but if they feel they’ve been poorly treated they can become vocal detractors of your company.
If the candidate is not going to be hired, let them know as soon as possible out of courtesy.
(Read more about this here.)

These findings are from our recent labour report, Thinkopolis IV: Time to Work. You can read the full report and view the infographic at

See also:

Employers view resumes for fewer than 11 seconds.
Job hopping is the new normal.

Category: Advice, Job Search Strategies, Latest News & Advice
  • disqus_KpaYWjhZDb

    If you are in Information Technology, you will never get another interview. This is because all the IT jobs in the US these days are going to east-Indians from India here in the US on H1B visas.

    • David Gay

      You are absolutely correct. Gone are the days where companies run their own IT centre. It’s now mobile computing and the age of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). The technology is now available where your tablet containing all those cute pictures of the kids can double as a professional workplace device, without risk of violating Sarbanes-Oxley regs because those two aspects can now easily be compartmentalized.

  • T.H

    You’re not far off the mark disqus. Where I work, the HR guy is east-Indian and all the promotions and good positions go to east-Indians. The rest of us are not even considered, qualified or not.

  • steve

    I would like to see those numbers broken down by age. I have been unemployed for 32 months now after a 28 yr run with a company that was bought out and shut down. I apply for jobs weekly and have had about 10 interviews in that time and the only feedback I get is the standard Dear John letter.

    • JFA

      Steve … I’m going through the same experiences as you are. I’ve been applying for jobs almost on a daily basis for 20 months now. I had a 30-year run with my last employer until a restructuring occurred. I’ve had 6 interviews so far and sometimes I get a phone call even if it’s just to advise me that I wasn’t the chosen candidate. Sometimes, I just don’t hear back until I decide to make a follow-up call or email.
      The hiring process has certainly changed a whole lot since the last time I applied for a job. It is becoming more apparent to me that more than 10 years of experience doesn’t count much anymore.

  • Shiz

    Well written. I did 10 interviews. And applied to over 100 places! Almost a fresh graduate. It all comes down to if they feel you are a good fit and less on what you studied and what you did. The way you interact with them and talk just makes the biggest deal breaker.

  • The Day Game

    interesting article.

  • mark

    very interesting. I have been looking for employment now for about 11 months . I truly believe the 16 weeks in getting employment are based on other parameter. Examples: They are 2 candidates seeking employment: ones who are unemployed and seeking employment, and the other group who are employed and seeking employment. I feel the later are the ones reaching this 16 weeks mark. Another example are candidates seeking employment and accept a position just to be employed for necessity sake and then further continues to look for employment in positions that they truly desire…just my observation from out here on the seeking employment line….

  • Pierrette Brousseau

    It must depend on the field…I have been looking for full-time, permanent employment for almost 2.5 years now. I have been very fortunate to have exciting contract positions that helped improve my marketability to potential employers. I have a part-time job which I love and also do some freelance work, neither of which are quite enough to meet my financial obligations.

  • Andrew Hilton-Wigg

    I’ve been looking for work for 7 months now, I’ve had over 10 interviews and over half of the employers did not respond after the interview.

  • Don Alfonso

    I have lost the number of positions I have applied for in Canada. No luck! I found the job overseas and leaving the country with no intention to return at least until the retirement.

    • Bella

      If you apply job in other country, isn’t there a working permit problem?

  • Rose

    i have been looking for work for almost 6 weeks have had 3 job interviews from employers and about 10 interviews from agency’s still no job if your over 45 and out of work it seems no matter how qualified you are and how much experience you have employers are not interested.

  • jnet

    It really depends on the job and what type of city or town you’re in IMO. I live in a small city in the Okanagan and I could never get a job in administration – there is a HUGE pool of people here fighting for a few jobs, but when I switched to health care and went back to school for a bit (I’m 37) I have my pick of jobs. I have a job now that I love, that I just sent an e-mail to and told them I wanted to work there, here are my credentials and I was hired right then, over e-mail. My mom also lives and works here, she went back to school twice – once for a care aide and once for a teacher’s aide and she has steady work in both cases, even though she is turning 60 in a few months.

  • T.H

    It’s been my experience that you have to send 10 -12 resumes to get one response for an interview, and the last five interviews I’ve been to I never heard back at all. I suppose the only good thing here is that I have a job (albeit one I hate), and it took over a year to find it. I took it because there was nothing else, and the search continues!!

  • kukkeeme

    I have been unemployed now for over 6 months. I have a professional resume and have sought the help of numerous employment counsellors, well over 50 resumes have been sent and still…have been to only 2 interviews.
    I took my home address off my resume as I was concerned my location was an issue as I live in a small town not really close to anything…I am used to commuting. This has not made a difference.
    I am baffled. I have been in senior management positions for a very long time. I have oodles of experience in both the not for profit and for profit sectors and have been a business owner. I have not however finished my university degree but have a portfolio full of certificates. Sadly, I believe a general BA or some kind of degree is the first level of filtering a potential candidate, unfortunately.

    • Bella

      well I am a fresh graduated from University of Toronto. I have a master degree in Engineer. All my family believe it will be no problem for me to get a very nice job, but they are wrong.

      • asdf

        You have a masters in engineering from the best university in the country and u still dont have a job yet? So are canadian people starving right now?

        • Bella

          well, that’s what my other friends said who were also graduated from same school as same major. I guess Canada is a very very slow country… and so ppl are more conservative. Once you got a job, the only thing in your mind is to keep it. You won’t try to invent new or try new things, and rather follow what everyone’s doing (even its grandfather’s old stupid slow way). Don’t try to be the best, cause you might end up being the worst. People don’t like things that are unsure. (why change when it’s still working.) And this is Canada. ( I took globalization course too, so sad.)

      • Ccgal

        Hi Bella, looking over your comments and responses I would have to say that your professional language skills could be a problem. You may be disqualified in professional circles because employers are worried about people misunderstanding what you are trying to say. I believe that your degree is very valuable, but if someone else makes a mistake based on misunderstanding something you told them, that could be fatal. I have worked with many people that were confused why they did not get a job or promotion. I spoke with their supervisors and other members of their work groups to discover that their professional language skills were the real hold back. In all cases the people said that it was because they had a very hard time understanding what this person was saying – even when it was in writing. There are many free groups that can help with practicing communication skills. Also, there is a group called “Toastmasters”. Toastmasters will help with language, confidence, communications and leadership skills. The key to joining Toastmasters is to try out a number of different chapters until you find one that you feel comfortable with and supported by. When you choose a chapter to join, immediately add it to your resume. This will show prospective employers that you are skilled in your field AND understanding that this is a weakness you know about AND are doing something very proactive to correct it.. Good luck with your job search!

        • Bella

          Hi Ccgal,
          Thanks for your reply and suggestion. Do you mean my English skill need to be improved?

  • Eleanor Dorst

    I am 63yr. old female, and have been pounding the pavement and keyboard for over year and I never have one get back to me. Also I see phoning a person is just prehistoric which I think is wrong. I always like potential employers to make “real” contact with the person. I find your stats based on young people not us boomers looking for work.

  • Bella

    I am a student from University of Toronto, and master in Engineer. People told me it will usually take at least 6 to 12 months to be hired, and more than 12 months if you are fresh graduated, which is a very depressing news for a student. There are even more and more job agents than ever and they all share the same job pool. I doesn’t matter did you go to any job assessment or which one you go to. There is no enough job. I definitely believe that Canada does not have a mature job market nor enough business to support the job number for job seekers.

    • David Gay

      I’m very sorry to hear you are having a hard time looking for work. Young people suffer the Catch-22 of job-searching: no one wants to hire you if you have no work experience, but how can you get work experience if no one gives you a chance?

      A better word to describe the economy is “anaemic”, being composed mostly of low wage part-time, contract, and self-run businesses.

      • Bella

        Thank you David for the reply.
        talking about self-run businesses, I’m actually thinking doing business on ebay, which is not from any of my professions. I think my family will feel sad once they knew this, but l have to do something instead of waiting for responds. I do see people making nice business from ebay, so I’m just gonna try it…. That is the only thing I can do by myself…

  • Guest

    am a student from University of Toronto, and a master of Engineer. People
    told me it will usually take at least 6 to 12 months to be hired in Canada, and
    more than 12 months if you are fresh graduated, which is a very
    depressing news for a student. There are even more and more job agents
    than ever and they all share the same job pool. It really doesn’t matter you went to a job assessment or which one did you go to. There is just not enough
    job. I definitely believe that Canada does not have a mature job market
    nor enough business to support the job number for job seekers.

  • Hesham

    Here is my experience from Oct 2013 – Apr 2014!

    – 368 applications, 13 phone interview, 7 first interview, and 2 second interview.

    I am active on LinkedIn , approached hiring managers, attend 3 months transition with a career advisor, registered with a career counselor, developed the popular 3 types of resume, aligned cover letters with job requirements and key competencies, developed 90 Day Action Plan for Success for each interview and , and , and still positive , active searching for my next start!

    My qualifications include bachelor’s degree in
    commerce and master degree in strategies of marketing with over ten years’
    experience in customer service and call centre management.

  • David Gay

    I’m sure I have one of the longest records at over four years without full time work. I’m now at the point where I will be travelling from city to city to find work. 16 months is actually too short in this Age of Austerity and the jobless recovery.

  • devil_in_details

    The stats might vary depending on the level of the job you’re looking for.
    Would be interesting to see the report with the separate number for… lets say – senior positions with 10+ yrs. of experience or junior positions for 1-5 yrs. of experience…
    Not to mention the field, ’cause obviously there might be a big difference in each professional field of employment…

  • Debra R

    I thought it was only me having NO luck finding a job as I have been unemployed and looking for a job for almost a year now. I am in property management and unfortunately in this industry it is not “What you know but Who you know”. I was just recently passed over for a job because I don’t speak Mandarin or Cantonese in a country where the official languages are ENGLISH AND FRENCH!
    I have applied for a minimum of over 200 jobs via email/fax along with sending out my resume via LinkedIn to 100 Property Managers twice in the past 6 months and still no job. I have had maybe 15 interviews in this whole time. I am enrolled at personnel / head hunting agencies and they are totally useless!
    Unfortunately craigslist has taken the lead in where to apply for a job these day and it
    just blows my mind how Rude and Ignorant the employers are out there with no regard for anyone who is unemployed looking for work even though they are looking for someone. The employers don’t even have the decency to inform you either way even after you have had an interview and don’t get the job.
    I live on my own, my EI ran out 2 1/2 months ago and my savings are almost gone.
    I don’t know what else to do or what new angle to take while looking. I finally had it one day with a reoccurring job posting on craigslist which I had applied for each time the ad resurfaced so I sent a very aggressive letter to them which then landed me an interview. I did not get the job but it was only my aggressive email that landed me the interview. It just does not make sense and unfortunately I believe it is only going to get worse before it gets better if it ever does get any better.
    It has taken me 15 years to get where I am experience wise and for what, only to be passed over by the wrong language qualifications and immigrants who have come to our country who work for lower wages (peanuts).
    I don’t feel good that others are in the same boat but at least I can see it is not just me.

    • T.H

      Debra, I couldn’t agree more!! I don’t know what is wrong with these employers, ie: are they hiring or not? I see the same postings day after day, and then after being posted for a few days, the posting comes down only to reappear 2 or 3 days later. So my question is this, are they really hiring or are they just fishing? As far as I am concerned the least these employers could do is to inform the people they interviewed one way or the other, it is only common courtesy! The way I see it is these employers don’t have much respect for the people applying, and unfortunately we are a minority in our own country!

  • aspromised

    I’ve had 7 interviews, at least 6 went very well – but only ever heard back from ONE advising that they went with someone else.
    There was a time it was unheard-of to not at least give the candidate a call back. At first I was puzzled but now I see it is the ‘new normal’. Extremely discourteous, to say the least.

  • Harmeet Bamrah

    I have been applying for jobs at different sites and send my resume to near about 10 positions, but i did not get any response from any where.

  • Maisie

    I have applied to a lot and I mean a lot of job openings. 99% to jobs I have a lot of experience in. I agree that if you do not have the experience how are people going to obtain the experience if a company is not willing to give them the chance? They may be missing out on choose someone who does not have the experience but is willing to learn or they are fast learners and really hard workers? But the opposite is also true. The company may see that you have too much experience and you will not stay at a job that is not paying that well, so they don’t call you for an interview. But then who is to say you will leave once you find a better paying job or not. What about those people who are willing to start at the bottom again if the company has room for advancement.

  • Rob

    I was unemployed for well over a year in Northern Ontario. The job prospects were not at all in my favour. Everything had to do with mining all kinds of work was available but I was not a miner, or a mechanical technician or a truck driver. None of that interested me so I applied to go back to school. I was eventually accepted at Algonquin College in Ottawa. I was to get a grant from the government of Ontario because I had been layed off. I was near the final point were I was to send all my paperwork for a grant and take it from there. A few days before my appointment, I looked online for jobs (like I always did every day) and spotted one that caught my eye. Just for the hell of it, I applied for a position with the same company that had layed me off (at that time there were no openings anywhere within the company). They were looking to hire in a different city in southern Ontario. Within 2 hours they called me and I had the job right away. They offered me a better wage and within 2 weeks I started working. It was very hard for me to make such a quick and drastic transition but I’m glad I persevered. They took the time to train me. That was 2 years ago. From reading all of your comments, I consider myself extremely lucky to have found work. I hope that all of you will finally get the break that you all very much deserve. As for me, this job may not last forever, but I am grateful for the work I have right now.