apples to oranges

See How Your Job Search Stacks Up: Results of Our Job Seeker Survey


Job search is more complicated than it used to be. A competitive job market and newer technologies have required job seekers to be savvier and more knowledgeable than ever. You must hunt for jobs and market yourself to employers in a variety of ways if you expect to get an interview, let alone a job.

We decided to conduct a survey of job seekers in the DuPage area, to see what they’re doing in their job search, and what’s working for them. The results of the job seeker survey are presented below; with this info you’ll be able to:

  • See how your job search stacks up against what others are doing, and
  • Get key insights and takeaways about an effective job search (be sure to read the last section, Patterns, Trends and Takeaways).


Table of Contents:

The Survey Data

  1. Demographics and Professions of the Respondents – Go To »
  2. Job Search Activities and Practices – Go To »
  3. Barriers, Frustrations and Perceptions of Job Market – Go To »

Analysis and Takeaways

  1. Patterns, Trends and Takeaways – Go To »


1. Demographics and Professions


91.3% of respondents were DuPage County residents, and the rest were from outside the county.

55.0% were male, 41.3% were female, and 3.8% preferred not to answer.

The age distribution of the respondents was:

age chart


The education level of the respondents was:

education chart

Profession and Employment

Survey respondents reported their industries or occupations as follows:

occupations chart

Employment Status

73.8% of respondents were unemployed, and 26.3% reported that they were working.

Among those who were unemployed, the majority (68.1%) had been unemployed for under a year:

unemployment chart

Among those who were working, their employment status was:

status chart

» Back to Table of Contents »


2. Job Search Practices and Activities

Paths to Employment

We asked those who were working to share how they landed their current job: “personal reference” was the most common answer, with other responses being:

how got job chart

Job Applications Per Week

On average, respondents apply to approximately 8 jobs per week, with the overall distribution being:

weekly applications chart

Employer Responses per Month

On average, respondents are getting approximately 3 responses from employers every month, with the overall distribution as:

monthly responses chart

Face-to-Face Job Interviews

On average, respondents have gotten 4 face-to-face interviews with employers since beginning their job search. The overall distribution is:

interviews chart

To make the data more meaningful, we looked at the average number of face-to-face interviews broken down by length of unemployment:

interviews chart

Applying for Jobs Through Company Websites

90.0% reported applying to jobs through company websites, and 57.5% said they think that is a better way to apply.

Those who apply through company websites were slightly more likely to get responses from employers:

apply through website chart

Using Job Boards

Approximately 53% of respondents used as their most-used job board.

When asked to name additional job boards used, there were a variety of responses:

job boards chart

Using Social Media

Unsurprisingly, LinkedIn was number one for social networking, with approximately 79% of respondents citing it as their most-used social media platform. The second most-used site was Google+, at 20%.

When asked to give additional social networking sites used, respondents cited:

social media chart

Networking and Support Groups

On average, respondents attend 1 to 2 networking events per month. The overall distribution was:

networking groups chart

There was a strong correlation between the kinds of groups respondents attended, and the groups they found most effective for their job search:

networking groups chart

Working with Staffing Companies

Approximately 56% said they use staffing companies as part of their job search. On average, they reported working with 2 to 3 staffing companies. The overall distribution was:

staffing companies chart

Most Effective Job Search Activity

We asked job seekers to identify the activity that is “most helpful or effective in getting responses from employers” – the #1 response was “employee referrals.” Overall, their answers were:

effective activities chart

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3. Barriers, Frustrations and Perception of the Job Market

Barriers to Employment

Respondents were asked to identify their biggest barrier to obtaining employment: “age” was the top answer given, with “skills out of date” coming in second. Other responses were:

barriers chart

Frustrations with the Job Search Process

Respondents were asked to identify the most frustrating aspect of their job search, and then asked to identify the 2nd, then the 3rd most frustrating aspects. Their responses were:

  1. Never getting a response from employers
  2. Using online applications
  3. Difficulty making human connections with employers

It seems clear that job seekers think the process of applying for and getting a job has become too impersonal, and that the automation of the process has made it difficult for them to obtain employment.

The responses to all three questions were aggregated, and here are the top sources of job seeker frustration

frustrations chart

Perception of the Job Market

We asked job seekers if they thought “there are more good jobs available now than one year ago?” The responses were:

good jobs chart

Not surprisingly, those with jobs were slightly more likely to say, yes, there are more good jobs:

good jobs chart

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4. Patterns, Trends and Takeaways

These points were already cited above, but are worth repeating:

  • Most of those who were employed got their job through a personal reference, which points to the importance of networking.
  • Respondents who apply through company websites got a slightly higher number of employer responses.
  • Respondents said that getting an employee referral was the most effective job search activity, again highlighting the importance of networking.

More Applications Doesn’t Necessarily Mean More Responses

Comparing the number of applications to the number of responses received, or to the number of face-to-face interviews revealed something very interesting: there is a general correlation between increased applications and increased responses until about 15 applications per week. After that threshold, completing more applications appears to yield diminishing returns:

applicaiton responses chart

This supports the oft-repeat warnings against simply “shotgunning” resumes and applications. It is more effective to create a targeted resume for a smaller number of jobs for which you are qualified.

Networking Really Works

On average, those who attend networking events were 63% more likely to get responses from applications or resumes.

On average, those who attend networking events were 154% more likely to get face-to-face interviews.

The Benefit of Working with Staffing Companies

Those who reported working with a greater number of staffing companies also tended to get more responses from employers:

staffing companies chart

Some Notable Gender Differences

Analysis of job search activity by gender revealed areas that people may need to improve upon:

  • Men were less likely to rehearse for a job interview. Rehearsing your answer to difficult questions is essential for succeeding in an interview.
  • Women were less likely to network, the importance of which has already been stated.
  • Women were also less likely to customize their resume, which is an important part of a targeted job search.

These charts illustrate the gender differences:

gender difference chart

gender difference chart

Some Notable Age Differences

Analysis of job search activity by age revealed areas that people may need to improve upon:

  • Customizing Resumes: Those in the age range of 35-64 appear less likely to customize their resumes than those younger or older.
  • Rehearsing for Interviews: Those 65 or older appear more likely to rehearse for job interviews.
  • Applying through Company Websites: No significant differences by age.
  • Networking: those ages 25-34 reported no networking activity, and those 56 or older reported diminished networking.

These charts illustrate the age differences:

age difference chart

age difference chart

» Back to Table of Contents »

This survey was conducted online by workNet DuPage throughout December, 2015 and January, 2016, and was open to all visitors to the workNet DuPage website.

Learn More about workNet DuPage

Job Seeker Services: A variety of services to help job seekers along the path to employment. Learn More »

Business / Employer Services: Services to help employers hire and maintain a skilled workforce. Learn More »