How many Applications did it take?


I was browsing through my past emails of all the applications I have submitted over the past few years before finally landing a job, and thought it would be interesting/fun to see how many letters of rejection/no response it took before I finally got a “Yes” or official offer.

Over all I had 26 rejection letters and 23 applications with no response before landing my first offers.

So I was wondering how many letters it took you guys before landing your first job?

I’m interested in this too.

I was able to land a job before I finished school in May '08. I sent out 6 resumes and landed my first job within 2 weeks of looking. I was laid off in May '09 and have been looking for full time work since.

I’ve applied for around 40 jobs and had 3 interviews in a 10-month span. No rejection letters or even a thank you for applying. Even when I followed up after the interviews I’ve had no luck in hearing back. Luckily I’ve been able to keep busy with freelance work. So in one way I’ve been landing freelance work on a regular basis but nothing full-time. Now this month I’ve applied for 3 jobs and have two interviews set up.

I’m looking for work in architecture/furniture/interiors if it makes a difference.

23? I think for my internship search for the past 3 years I’ve definitely applied to at least 90 places, with only 2.5 offers (one retracted for budget reasons… grr startups)

Yeah, 23 of them were ones I applied to and go no response…

I ended up with 1.5 offers too (one was put on hold for budgeting) but it seemed to go from rags to riches when all of a sudden I had 2 companies at the same time contact me for full time positions, I just thought it was interesting adding them up to see how persistent I really was

Yeah, why is this? I had the same thing happen with me at 3 consultancies. 2 of them I had multiple interviews and then poof, they disappear. Why would they burn a bridge with essentially a stranger? Is it so hard to say “No thank you”?

The irony is now I am corporate and part of my duties is hiring consultants when our resources are inadequate.

But to answer the OP, for my first job out of school, probably over 100 resumes sent out with a dozen interviews to get 1 offer.

I wish I knew the answer. It just seems like it’s just a waste of a companies time to give any sort of acknowledgment to the candidates who do not get an offer. It’s made me lose respect for the 3 companies I interviewed with and never heard from again. And it’s really too bad since I’ve admired the work of two of them for years.

I sent stuff out to 6 places a month or so before graduation and heard back from one saying “thanks, we got your stuff.” I met a guy at the end of school year show and did freelance for him and 3-4 other clients before I ended up getting an email in the Fall asking me to interview for an internship where I ended staying for 6 years. 3 of my original freelance clients came from Coroflot portfolio searches, as did the internship that led to my first job. That was in 2002. That was a very hot and humid summer in the city.

Sorry I have never counted the letters, but as far as time it normally takes me 8 months to find a new job. In cases when i was unemployed in the past, it seemed I got my job offer one week before unemployment benefits ran out.

It’s been a bit, but I’d say I sent out 75, and got 3 interviews and 2 offers. This was 7.5 years ago when the dust was finally settling after 9/11. Similar to now, but not nearly as bad.

I think of those 75 I probably got 8 'Thanks, but no thanks" responses even after following up on almost all of them.

Approximately 80 in the 18 months after I graduated (not including freelance projects) and just 2 interviews. I think part of that though was spent in the massive learning curve that you go though when learning how to market yourself and the best ways to approach companies. Interestingly when I got a job it wasn’t as the result of an application but as a result of a former employer who had moved onto a new company. Shows how important it is to keep in contact with people in your network.

Almost the exact same situation for me as well. I had less “Thanks, but no thanks” responses and maybe 4 or 5 interviews in the 2001-2003 timeframe. This was right out of school.

My second gig in 2004 was 40-50 applications, 2 interviews, 1 offer in a 4-6 month timeframe. This was with about 2 years of experience.

Bingo. I haven’t had to dip into the employment pool yet, but knowing what I know now I will definitely be changing my approach and basing much of my search on contacts I have made.

Some thoughts from a different perspective. I’ve been in the industry now about 10 years.

Initially, fresh out of school, I have no idea how many places I applied to. Probably 30+. I don’t recall how many I finally got interviews or heard back from, but IIRC it was a small percentage. As it turned out, my final application (while I was waiting to hear back from others) was the one that got me into the industry where I am now.

Since having more experience (say the last 6 years), I’ve still continually applied for positions I’ve wanted and would say that over that time period I’ve made at least 20 focused applications. The difficulty is that as I increase in experience and focus, there are actually much less positions available. For example, at the level at which I would be interested (Design Director or comparable), at a major footwear company (there is really only about 4) there are probably only 20 or so positions worldwide (given 4 brands x 5 categories approx. And often they each only turn up every 5 years or so when there is turnover from someone moving up or to another parallel brand, and often sourced internally.

That being said, I take the perspective that it is not so much the interviews that you get, or response, but often the satisfaction that you are even qualified to apply, or better yet be considered for an interview. At my stage in my career I feel it is a game of timing, as the positions come up so rarely, are often given to in-corporate people first, and an opportunity is an opportunity. Over the last 6 years, out of the 20 or so applications, I’d say I’ve probably had 6-10 in person interviews and/or follow-up interviews. To date, nothing has worked out (either from their end or my declining an position), but I truly believe the more experience in applications and interviewing the better.


Would you go back to being an employee, R? It would give me nightmares. I really value my freedom and in hindsight did not enjoy being an employee.

Sure I have interviews all the time as a freelancer, I must interview well as I usually get the gig, but I’ve not interviewed for a full time role in almost ten years.

I think the jobs market must be very different in the UK. I applied for two jobs way before I graduated and got offers from both companies (Pentland Group and a supplier of footwear to Marks and Spencer - I went for Pentland Group). All the jobs I’ve applied for require a footwear degree and as there are only two degree courses in the UK it does tend to narrow things down somewhat.

I think employers here are getting really fussy over graduates though, it’s like they are expecting fully formed shoe designers to drop into their laps right from university. That’s not possible and they complain theres no new talent coming through. Graduates need to be trained and nurtured and it costs money. Only a few firms seem to be interested in supporting them.

I do think that employer /employee culture sucks, the lack of a reply when your interview didn’t work out. I think it’s downright rude - they have a software program that can read resumes, but no software program to send out rejection emails.

Is the job market in Europe maybe a better place for recent graduates from design schools to look into compared to staying in the US?

I don’t know - I think it depends on the area you are going into. It’s not exactly easy to get a work visa for the EU, nigh on impossible in the UK at the moment I reckon.
Since the EU expanded, there has been mass migration from the poorer countries to the richer ones (if you are an EU resident you can live and work anywhere in the EU without needing a permit).

I would say probably not. There are a lot of design schools in Europe churning out more graduates than there are jobs, so every position is highly sought after. That said, you may have skills that the typical EU graduate might not, as I know that your degree programs are quite different to over here.

If you are struggling in the US though, it makes sense to widen the net, as long as you are happy to move if it comes down to it. You’ve got to take any opportunity you get!

I applied for a job a few months before I graduated school and after a few weeks and a few interviews with them I got the job and took it so I never applied for anything else for fear it would take me a year to land something else. 1 for 1. I’m happy, it’s turned out to be a great first job out of school. I’m not expecting to go 1 for 1 when it comes time to progress my career.

I know that for my friends in the finance and banking industry they always say 100:10:1

100 resumes and targeted cover letters (not generic recycled crap) sent out

10 interviews

1 offer

Very interesting points R.

Do you feel it would be difficult for you to work for an employer again?

That question really goes for anyone who runs their own business or does freelance 100%