Open to Work: New Data Shows the Pandemic Has People Rethinking Their Careers
As the leading global employer of record, we make it our business to stay informed of trends in labor force distribution and industry-level sourcing and the management of talent. As the pandemic has upended private and public life in so many ways, we’ve been eager to track how this has influenced workers, specifically related to their evolving job and career sentiments.
Our analysis takes into account both Google search trends data indicating what restless workers are searching for online, and a survey of 500 millennials and Gen Zers sharing their attitude towards their careers.
We began by looking at search trends across eight categories: remote work; work-life balance; high pay; helping people; jobs involving travel; jobs for introverts; jobs for retirees; and jobs for teenagers. Below our analysis shows the US states where these categories of search were most popular.
Search volume across several of these categories has soared when compared to figures just before the pandemic, in February 2020. Notably, search by or on behalf of young teenagers (ages 16 and under) is up 194% over that period.
Also on the rise are searches for careers and jobs promising high pay (up 120%), the opportunity to work remotely (up 114%), and jobs that are low stress (up 104%). Another trending category of search – certainly one that would be considered niche pre-pandemic – is careers and jobs for introverts (up 41%). The pandemic has surely left some people sensitive to interaction with others, and at least a small percentage of these people are looking for work opportunities that better support that sensitivity.
Younger Generations Are Getting Restless
While it’s common for young people to feel restless about their career paths, and to do some job-hopping for a few years, clearly the pandemic has amplified that phenomenon. According to our survey, 78% of workers under 40 say the pandemic made them question what they want to do for a job or career. Seventy-five percent of these younger workers did research on alternative jobs and careers during the pandemic and two out of three (65%) spent at least some time training or developing skills that could be used for a new job or career.
New Priorities May Lead to New Careers
The demonstrated restlessness in workers is driven by shifts in their priorities, which appear to have been heavily influenced by the pandemic. Whether workers used the dramatic upheavals of the pandemic as impetus for reflection, or they’re simply being more pragmatic now that they know more, it’s clear that priorities have changed for millions of Americans.
Notably, 58% of those we surveyed are looking for work that’s more meaningful, while 54% are looking for work that’s less stressful. Aligning with the increase in queries about careers for introverts, 47% of the workers surveyed are curious about work that involves less interaction with people.
Dreamy Jobs for Dreary Pay
Finally, we asked younger generations about dream jobs. Seventy-six percent say they have a dream job clearly in mind, and 83% of those who do, say they expect to one day realize that dream. As much as uncertainty and restlessness may be characteristics associated with millennials and Gen Zers, they are flush with optimism when it comes to dream jobs.
One of the great tests for measuring how passionate a person is about a particular job, or mission, is asking them to consider whether they’d do the work for little or no pay. To explore this, we asked millennials and Gen Zers if there is any job that that would happily do, long-term, for minimum wage. Less than half of young workers (47%) said they could be happy in a job that pays the federal minimum wage ($7.25 per hour) and 74% said they could be happy in a job that pays a more progressive minimum wage of $15 per hour.
On July 22, 2021, we surveyed 500 Americans about their attitudes towards their jobs and careers. Our respondents were 65% male and 35% female, between the ages of 18 to 68, with an average age of 36 years old.
Additionally, in July 2021, we conducted an analysis of Google search trends across a collection of several hundred job- and career-related queries entered in the US between February 2020 and June 2021. Search volumes in Google are calculated as trailing 12-month averages.
In order to establish category-level trends, like “Jobs that can be done remotely,” we account for a series of related queries, which in this example include: “Jobs that can be done online,” “Best careers to work from home,” “What jobs work remote,” etc.
A component of our Google search analysis included data specific to individual US states. In order to be as accurate as possible we only considered the 30 most populous US states, which in turn have the most search volume.
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About Elements Global Services:
Elements Global Services is a global tech firm, focused on software that is built to go beyond country borders and simplify a company’s ability to Expand their Business, Onboard Employees, Manage Compliance and Pay Globally. Headquartered in Chicago, Elements offers customers 100% direct Employer of Record services in over 135 countries, powered by proprietary HR technology that simplifies everything from payroll, benefits and human capital management to HR outsourcing, local compliance and visa & mobility.