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) -- These days, the length of a job search is as varied as the types of positions that get advertised on popular job boards.

"You could be hired on the spot or it can take six months for a company to fill a position," says Charles Purdy, a career expert with


Small businesses are lighter on their feet when it comes to hiring, expert say.

"Companies right now are being very diligent and picky about their hiring" agrees Rusty Rueff, career and workplace expert for

. "They're adopting longer, more stringent practices."

Still, most companies generally aim to fill an advertised position within 30 to 90 days of a job posting's initial appearance. Whether you can expect a particular job to fall on the low or high end of that depends on several factors.

For instance, Carolyn Hughes, vice president of people for

, a job aggregation site, says management positions typically take longer to fill than entry-level ones, since they often require an extra round of interviews with company higher-ups who may have busy schedules. Additionally, planned hires determined by a company's budget, for example, can take longer to fill than positions that a company wasn't expecting to be vacant, thanks to a heightened sense of urgency.

Summer and holiday job searches tend to last longer because those in charge of hiring and the candidates selected for interviews have less availability as they go on vacations. Conversely, searches that start right after the holidays are often expedited.

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"Hiring managers may say 'I want to hurry up and hire before my budget is cut,'" Rueff says, adding that hiring process may be shortest from January through April.

Company size, on the other hand, offers less insight into how long the hiring process can take.

While big companies can afford tools that make their job search easier -- such as software that vets resumes based on keywords, a full-scale human resource department or even the use of an external recruiting firm for early stages of the search -- they often have a lot more red tape to cut through before they can formally make a job offer.

This includes stringent rules regarding internal advertising for the position, more defined budgetary constraints and a deeper bureaucracy that needs to sign off on the final candidate. They're also more apt to conduct a background check or drug test, which may add a week or two to the process.

"Small businesses are lighter on their feet when it comes to hiring," says Jason Carney, director of human resources at

WorkSmart Systems

, a human resources outsourcing firm. "If they have the right tools, they can have a position filled quickly."

Of course, there's always the possibility that something goes awry.

"When a job search goes over 120 days, it's generally a sourcing issue," Hughes says. This means they've gone through most, if not all steps in the hiring process and, having not found the right candidate, need to start all over again.

But don't be discouraged if you find yourself in the middle of a never-ending interview process.

"Just because it's a long process doesn't mean it's not a good process," Rueff says. He explains that while there's often pressure on employers to snatch up the best applicants for fear they'll get a job elsewhere, it's in the candidate's and company's best interests to make sure they are, in fact, hiring the right person for the job.

"You don't want rush to hire someone and have them wash out in six months," he says. Instead, Rueff believes the real problem is that companies don't do a good job of cluing candidates in to how long they plan on taking with their search.

Additionally, while an increasing number of employers are careful to notify someone when they are out of the running -- Hughes cites that many companies are even emailing applicants who submit a resume, but aren't selected for an interview -- there is no guarantee you'll be formally told the search is over.

"Employers don't always treat candidates the way they would like to be treated," Rueff says.

However, Purdy says, "if you have interviewed for a position, you are well within your rights to ask what's going on."

To prevent yourself from being stuck in limbo, Rueff suggests asking at the end of the last interview when the company expects to make a final decision. If that period elapses and you haven't heard anything, it's well within your rights email your company contact to inquire about the position's status.

"You deserve to know," Rueff says.

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