Landing Your Ideal Receptionist Job May be Harder Than Getting into Harvard

If you’re applying for a job as an administrative assistant, you might be growing tired of the non-responses and the “thanks for applying, but . . .” emails. Don’t feel dejected. It may have less to do with the strength of your application, and more to do with the numbers game. That’s because there were 113 applications for each administrative assistant job on ZipRecruiter over the past year, and 97 for each office assistant/receptionist job.  

Administrative assistant jobs have always been popular with entry-level job seekers because they are a great way to get your foot in the door. They also typically pay well and come with benefits. But if your search for one has been fruitless amid the high level of competition, it may be time to change tack–especially given the labor shortages and abundant opportunities in other occupations.

There are still some entry-level roles out there with little to no competition. If you’re able and willing to invest in some additional education and training, however, the odds could certainly shift in your favor.  

Employers are desperate to hire pilots, registered nurses, and truck drivers, for example. Airlines are hanging around flight schools signing up new hires before they graduate and offering them perks ranging from bonuses to student loan assistance. Trucking companies are raising pay. Hospitals are offering hiring bonuses, housing, and tuition assistance to attract nurses.

Physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech pathologists are also in very high demand. The training and certification requirements for these jobs can be onerous. But if applying for administrative assistant jobs is becoming your full-time job, perhaps it’s time to make an investment and start winning the numbers game.

20 Jobs that Are Harder to Land than Getting into Harvard

Harvard’s acceptance rate this year was 4.6%, which is the lowest on record in the college’s long history. Although this is an incredibly low figure denoting heavy competition, it pales in comparison to the competition faced by job seekers for many entry-level openings right now.

So far this year the average ratio of applicants to Administrative Assistant Receptionist jobs posted to ZipRecruiter is 166:1. That’s an exceptionally low acceptance rate of six-tenths of one percent.

Job titleApplications per job
Administrative Assistant Receptionist166
Pharmaceutical Sales Representative123
Medical Receptionist118
Administrative Assistant113
General Warehouse103
Customer Service Call Center Representative103
IT Support Specialist99
Front Desk Receptionist98
Office Assistant Receptionist97
Executive Assistant95
Warehouse Associate95
Office Assistant93
Graphic Designer89
Warehouse Forklift Operator87
Personal Assistant86
Office Administrator85
IT Support Technician83
Warehouse Manager82
Warehouse General Laborer81
Shipping Receiving Clerk81

20 Jobs Where Workers are in High Demand

With two-to-three applications per job opening, the roles listed below had an average acceptance rate of 50% to 33% through August 2018. Not surprisingly, many of them are in the healthcare industry, which currently has the tightest job market of any industry, according to the latest ZipRecruiter data.

Aside from indicating that education and training provide for greater job opportunities, these data also show there is no one, monolithic “job market.” Yes, the unemployment rate is at historic lows, but for some workers competition is still fierce depending on the role they’re after.

Job titleApplications per job
Skilled Nursing Facility Physical Therapist2
OTR Company Driver2
Media Sales Executive2
Travel Nurse2
Intensive Care Nurse2
State Farm Agent Team Member2
Critical Care Nurse2
Advertising Sales Executive2
Telemetry Nurse2
Emergency Room Nurse3
Senior Sales Executive3
Labor and Delivery Registered Nurse3
CDL Flatbed Truck Driver3
B2B Sales Professional3
Sales Account Executive3
Regional Owner Operator Truck Driver3
Surgical Nurse3
Outpatient Physical Therapist3
Speech Language Pathologist3

Methodology: We grouped job postings by job title and computed the average number of applications per posting in each group, after restricting our data set to those job titles for which there were at least 1000 job postings on ZipRecruiter in the year ending September 30, 2018. The first table lists the job titles with the highest number of applications per job on average, and the second lists the job titles with the lowest number of applications per job. Harvard recently offered admission to 1,962 of its 42,749 applicants this year, bringing its acceptance rate to 4.59, the lowest in its history. That means there were 21.8 applications per slot. By contrast, there were 166 applications per Administrative Assistant Receptionist jobs on ZipRecruiter the same year.

Written by

ZipRecruiter's Labor Economist, Julia conducts job market research and provides unique insights to job seekers, employers, and the ZipRecruiter leadership team.

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