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Job search statistics for 2024

Updated: Jul 2

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As a career consultant, I've met a lot of job seekers who felt stuck in a seemingly endless loop of applications and rejections.

A story that's still fresh in mind involves a recent client, Amy (to protect her privacy, I won't use her real name) . She'd just graduated from University of Texas at Dallas with a degree in marketing, and was struggling to get her foot in the door for marketing positions.

She'd probably sent her resume to over 400 companies but wasn't getting any hits. She decided to take a break from the stress of looking for work and visit her family in a small town just outside of Chicago, Illinois.

During a casual conversation with her aunt, she learned that her aunt had a friend who worked in HR at a small marketing agency and suggested that she reach out.

What struck me about Amy's story was how her persistence and networking eventually paid off.

But, it also highlighted a common challenge many job seekers face: the job market is tough, and sometimes it feels like all the odds are against you.

That got me thinking – how many jobs does the average person apply to during a typical job search? How many applicants does a typical job posting receive? I started doing some digging to try and find up to date stats, and here's what I found:

The ATS

First things first, let's talk about the Applicant Tracking System (ATS).

If you’re applying for jobs online, your resume is likely to be screened by an ATS before it even reaches a human recruiter. Believe it or not, around 75% of resumes are eliminated by ATS due to various issues (getting knocked out due to immediate ineligibility, either due to geographic location, not meeting key criteria and so on).

Roughly 25% make it past the ATS (and I'm sacrificing accuracy for simplicity here; in reality, all data is stored in the ATS and none of it is actually "eliminated"). That's why it's crucial to optimize your resume with the right keywords and format.

Amy eventually learned this the hard way later on after speaking with me and telling me her story.

She discovered that her beautifully designed resume wasn’t ATS-friendly, and many of her applications never even saw the light of day.

The Application Process

Did you know that a single corporate job opening receives an average of 250 applications? Out of these, less than 3% result in a job interview (Forbes). The odds might seem daunting, but don't let that discourage you.

Tailoring your resume to each specific job can significantly increase your chances. Recruiters spend 6-8 seconds (Forbes) skimming a resume on the first go, so make sure yours stands out by highlighting relevant skills and experiences.

After we worked together on how to tailor a resume, Amy started customizing her resume for each job application, and soon enough, she began receiving interview invites. It was a small but significant shift that made a big difference.

A few more stats on job applications:

  • 49% of candidates would consider applying for a role instantly if the process appeared simple (Hays).

  • Candidates are 38% more likely to accept a job offer if they are satisfied with the application process (Glassdoor).


Resume Review Insights

Recruiters often look for skills first, and hard skills are particularly important – 41% of recruiters look for them first (especially for technical roles).

However, job descriptions tend to list over 20 required skills, while most resumes only include an average of 13.

Make sure your resume lists all of the hard skills you have (i.e., programming languages, software, industry-specific tools or technologies)

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Using too many buzzwords, not tailoring the resume to the specific job, and grammatical errors are some of the biggest mistakes job seekers make.

Around 60% of recruiters say that overuse of buzzwords is a major turn-off. Focus on clear, concise, results-oriented language and avoid clichés.

Formatting and Presentation

A well-formatted resume can significantly improve your chances of getting noticed. In fact, 83% of recruiters are more likely to hire a candidate (Jobvite) with a well-formatted resume. Keep it clean, professional, and easy to read.

When I worked with Amy on her resume makeover, we included a simpler single-column layout with minimal "design", which made it easier for recruiters to skim while keeping it ATS friendly.

Parting Thoughts

I'll leave you with a few extra tidbits:

  • Moreover, 79% of hiring managers today are willing to hire candidates with career gaps. If you have any gaps, be honest and focus on what you’ve learned during that time.

  • Lastly, remember that 88% of employers believe they are losing out on qualified candidates screened out by ATS. This means there’s a real opportunity for you to make it through by following best practices.


 

Want to take the hassle out of writing a phenomenal resume?

That's where I can help. Learn more about me.

If you're more of a DIY person, I got you! Try Resumatic - an AI powered resume builder with ATS friendly templates.

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