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Job Seekers Must Have Patience During the Hiring Process

Typical time from application to hire is just under 28 days

A woman sitting at a table with a laptop in front of a window.

Various labor market reports forecast that hiring will continue to be strong in 2017. But the competition will be fierce, making it hard for job seekers to land their choice role, according to a new survey report.

San Francisco-based recruiting software company Jobvite analyzed over 14 million job applications and their outcomes in 2016 to measure the chances of getting a job by industry, the typical length of the hiring process and the best method to get recruiters' attention.

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Interview and Employment Application Questions]

According to Jobvite's data, the most competitive industries for open positions are technology, media, education and e-commerce, with companies like Grubhub or Zappos considering 66 applicants per hire.

Industries like insurance and energy, on the other hand, are substantially less competitive, with less than 20 applicants considered per hire on average. "For those seeking stability and the prospect of long-term growth at a company, these industries may pose an attractive alternative," said Amanda Van Nuys, Jobvite's senior director of marketing communications.

The data showed that it was especially hard to garner an interview for positions in media (only 7 percent of applicants were asked to interview), manufacturing (10 percent) and technology (10 percent). In education, on the other hand, almost 20 percent of applicants could expect a chance to interview, but only 9 percent received an offer. However, in the less competitive real estate and insurance industries, landing an interview meant your odds of getting the job were more than 1 in 3, according to Jobvite.

"How much [the interview] opportunity is worth varies by industry," Van Nuys said. "Sometimes, an interview means you're close to an offer, while in others, it's a formality extended to many."

The energy and real estate industries were the fastest growing over the last three years in the number of jobs created, according to Jobvite data. The number of jobs in the energy field grew by 193 percent between 2014 and 2016, and employment in real estate grew by 105 percent. Engineering and finance enjoyed more modest but still substantial growth, at 45 percent and 43 percent respectively.

Since 2014, jobs with "data science" in the title have risen 64 percent, according to the survey report. In that same period, jobs with phrases like "artificial intelligence," "machine learning" or "deep learning" grew 140 percent.

"Two of the most in-demand jobs at the world's biggest companies are experts in data science and artificial intelligence [AI]—fields that skyrocketed in importance over the past two years," Van Nuys said. "Data analysis is now essential for companies of all sizes, and AI is incorporated in everything from factory work to finance."

Other key findings include:

  • On average, it takes just under 28 days from the time someone applies for a job to being hired.
  • The average number of candidates interviewed ranges from seven at the C-suite level to five at the associate level. 
  • C-suite candidates go through an average of five interview sessions, while associate-level candidates sit through three.
  • Referred applicants are five times more likely than average to be hired, and 15 times more likely to be hired than applicants from a job board.
  • 78 percent of recruiters cite enthusiasm as the quality most likely to influence a hiring decision after an initial in-person interview, followed by a good command of the job requirements (76 percent) and conversation skills (73 percent).
  • Just 26 percent of recruiters surveyed consider cover letters to be important.

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