The red-hot job market continues to favor workers. The U.S. economy has already added more than a million jobs in the first two months of 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the unemployment rate is hovering just above its historic pre-pandemic lows.
It looks like American workers are seizing the opportunity, according to new survey data from Bankrate: A majority, 51%, will likely look for new jobs in 2022.
That figure shoots up for younger workers, as 3 in 5 millennials and 4 in 5 Gen Zers say they’re at least somewhat likely to look for new employment this year, according to the survey.
It’s another indicator that the Great Resignation will likely continue well into 2022, says Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate.
“The world was turned upside down,” Hamrick says. “So, as the world gets turned closer to right side up, people have these experiences emblazoned into their memories, and they’re trying to create their own social and professional safety net by securing jobs that provide the things that they’re looking for.”
Covid’s upheaval of the job market also refocused what workers want from their employers. More than 2 in 5 people, 43%, of workers say that flexible hours are a priority for them, and 1 in 3, 34%, say they want remote work.
In that way, the pandemic scrambled how workers perceive what their employers can give them, Hamrick says. “That experience does a lot to dislodge a sense of lasting job security,” he says.
They’re willing to trade the perception of long-term job security for more tangible benefits in the here and now, says Vicki Salemi, career expert at Monster.
“They want to be paid fairly,” Salemi says. “They want salary, health care benefits, flexible work schedules, and PTO. We know those are the top five things candidates are looking for, and we’re seeing companies really are starting to respond.”
Employees have the upper hand, Hamrick says, and employers will need to continue working hard to meet those expectations.
If you’re looking to jump into the job market, here are three things to keep in mind right now.
Before the pandemic, going a significant amount of time between jobs might have been a red flag for recruiters, Salemi says. However, the pandemic made those kinds of gaps or career pivots less alarming. “As long as it’s a cohesive story, it’s fine,” she says.
For jobs that are hiring remotely, jobseekers and recruiters alike can now look outside their commuting radius, and those bigger parameters mean more workers can find their ideal employers, even if they’re in a different state, or even a different time zone. “Being able to connect and use technology for video calls and video interviews” has made that possible, Salemi says.
Companies need workers badly enough that they’ll consider candidates who don’t perfectly fit a job description but are willing to be trained, Salemi says. Some employers may be willing to pay for certifications or licensing for example, but they might also sponsor programs that build softer skills, like managerial or communications development.
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