Job Hunters Can Expect To Spend 51 Hours Just Filling Out Applications

By Kathy Morris - Jan. 7, 2021

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Job hunting is hard.

That’s no secret, and obviously a big motivator at Zippia is to help make finding a good job easier.

What if, an idealistic, hopeful version of myself thought, we found the easiest, large companies to apply to?

Surely, some companies will have far, better processes than other companies. Identifying these companies could help job hunters save valuable time and even flat out avoid some companies!

We set out to find companies with quick applications and good UX.

What did we actually find? The application process is broken.

The average application took 31 minutes. Since the average applicant will apply for 100 jobs before landing their next gig- that means the average job seeker will spend 51 hours just filling out applications.

This doesn’t include researching companies, finding jobs to apply to, writing cover letters, updating resumes, conferring with references, looking up employment dates, or actual job interviews.

You can see our top findings, and how we determined this below.

Top (And Disappointing) Findings

  • On average each job application took 31 minutes
  • The quickest application took 21 minutes and the longest over 40
  • On average each application contained over 50 questions
  • Resume uploads do not reliably auto-fill out work history in companies’ proprietary systems.
  • All required the applicant set up an account on their website. Which takes time, and unlike other standard job hunting docs like a resume or CV is only good for 1 company.
  • Most companies aren’t optimizing their applications for mobile- further complicating the hunt for those with no desktop device.
  • Want a job? Get ready to provide your social-security number and other private information.
  • Many companies are not open and authentic about the length of their job application process. This makes it difficult for applicants to realize upfront the level of effort required is not equal to the level of interest they have in the job.

How We Determined This

We set out to evaluate 200 of the US’ largest companies current application process on:

Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
  • Total minutes it took to complete the application
  • Number of questions asked
  • Whether you had to create an account on there website in order to apply
  • Resume upload

I applied for lower-level and fairly entry-level positions when possible.

However, at company 46, I realized something: Every single one of these companies’ has a bad job application process and this endeavor would take over 2 weeks. Sure, some were bad in different ways. But each 1 took a huge hunk of time and was chock full of inefficiencies.

Since, I was not trying to work at Amazon or Walmart or Exxon-Mobile (I like my current job), I no doubt wasn’t as precise or diligent as a true job seeker. Genuine job seekers probably spent more time pondering whether they agreed or strongly agreed with statements such as, “There is a lot to be happy about in the world if you just look.”

Sometimes I was guilty of shrugging and just choosing an option.

Subsequently, the data in this report is based off of 46 of the largest companies in the US- all of which have a long way to go in improving the job hunt process.

Some Companies Make Getting A Job Harder Than It Has To Be

I kept waiting for a quick, easy application process and while some certainly sucked more than others, none were what I would define as quick.

From uploading a resume only for the company to ask me fill out the information I just uploaded to answering hypothetical job questions for a company that will probably never call me back, it was honestly not a fun week.

I’m not sure if I’ll get any callbacks, but I certainly put in a lot of work. One thing is clear: Companies are taking a lot of job seekers time and energy when they don’t have to.

Since companies often complain about a lack of applicants, they might should look inward and ask, “Would I fill out this application?”

However, in the meantime, applicants can try and shield themselves from companies that are practicing #wasteyourtime.

How Can I Speed Up The Application Process?

  • Take advantage of one-click applications on job hunting websites
  • Prioritize companies you actually want to work (applying at a company you are half-hearted for could be nearly an hour of work, for a job you will most likely turn down)
  • Consider smaller or midsized companies that might have less

Take the hassle out of your job search & get an offer faster
Kathy Morris

Author

Kathy Morris

Kathy is the head of content at Zippia with a knack for engaging audiences. Prior to joining Zippia, Kathy worked at Gateway Blend growing audiences across diverse brands. She graduated from Troy University with a degree in Social Science Education.

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