People Are Job-hunting Now More Than Ever

by Staff - Original publish date: February 6, 2013

Why Do Workers Jump Ship?

“I’m so sick of this job. I swear, this year I’m outta here!”

It’s a safe bet we’ve all been there at one point or another, as the decision to actively search for a better job at the start of a new year is a fairly common one – especially considering salaries only rose a total of 4% from 2008-2012. But have you ever wondered what kind of workers decide to leave, why they want to jump ship, and how often they’re out there beating the bushes for job leads?

We surveyed more than 1,300 people to find out more about the current mindset and attitude of American workers, and the results are eye-opening. Read on to find out more about America’s job-hunters and the rise of the 24/7 job search.

Employees Are Increasingly Unhappy

We’ve tackled this topic before in our Working Survey, but before we dig deep into our newest survey results, let’s start basic.

The first question we asked people was very simple: Are you happy at your current job? Overall, 69% said they are unhappy in their current position. That’s a marked increase from last year’s survey, in which only 43% of respondents said they were unhappy at work. So what’s going on?

Although the economy is (supposedly) recovering and hiring has ticked upwards, many businesses are running lean and have avoided hiring back staff. So one reason for all the discontent could be that existing employees are being asked to wear several extra hats at the same – or potentially less – pay.

More Employees are Job-hunting

Now that we know more than two-thirds of employees are unhappy, let’s see how that affects their decision regarding whether or not to find a new job.

Last year when we asked this question, 56% of all respondents said they planned to actively look for a new job in 2012. But with another year of workplace discontent under their belts, our survey shows that number has risen to 77% of employees who will be looking for greener pastures in 2013.

Contrary to popular belief, younger workers are the least likely to search for a new job. Only 69% of workers ages 18-25 plan to job hunt this year, compared to 81% of workers between 40-50 -- the age group most likely to look for a different position.

A Constant State of Job Search

The short answer is “more than you think.”

Of those we surveyed, 17% claim they actively look for a new job at least once a day. Most people – 25% of all respondents – said they engage in their job search several times a week. That was followed by 15% who job hunt once a week, and 14% who search for a new job once a month. Only 3% say they never look for a new job.

Employers should also take note that 28% of workers said they hunt for a new job during work hours in their current positions.

Their Resumes are Ready

It’s one thing to look for jobs online, but are employees going beyond that? In a lot of cases, the answer is yes.

As proof that people are job-hunting more often, 15% of the total number of people we surveyed have updated their resumes in the last week. Nearly one-quarter of respondents -- 24% -- updated their resumes within the last month, with 17% claiming they spruced up their resume at some point during the last three months. That means well over half our respondents have spent time refining their resumes within the last quarter.

Twenty-three percent update their resume every 6-12 months, while it’s been more than a year for 21% of those surveyed.

Referrals are on the Rise

While employees clearly see the need for an updated resume, that doesn’t mean they’re rushing out to post them online.

Only one-third of those surveyed have posted their resume online on job board sites in the last three months. And most people – 43% -- said it’s been more than a year since they’ve posted a resume online at one of these sites.

These results are in line with a recent New York Times article, which quoted hiring managers at several major companies who are relying heavily on employee referrals instead of random applicants from job boards. But regardless, 51% of total respondents said it’s been more than one year since they’ve actually been on a job interview, and only 27% have been to at least one interview at some point in the past three months.

So What's the Problem?

We know employees are unhappy and we know they are constantly looking for new jobs. The big question is, why?

When asked to choose the main reason why they’re unhappy and want out, it’s not hard to guess what topped the list. Low pay was the top vote-getter, with 24% of people claiming they aren’t paid a high enough salary. But it’s also clear that employees feel limited in other, non-monetary ways as well. Here’s the complete list:

  • Low pay: 24%
  • No possibility of advancement: 16%
  • Underappreciated: 10%
  • Not challenged enough: 8%
  • Too stressful: 6%
  • Poor work/life balance: 5%
  • Hate boss: 5%
  • Overworked: 3%
  • Bad benefits: 2%
  • Hate coworkers: 1%

What Will Make Employees Happy?

So what if – in an ideal world – your employer would grant you one wish in an effort to get you to say in your job? What would you ask for that you don’t currently have?

Again, it comes as no surprise that employers need to show workers the green in order to stop them from going to greener pastures. Thirty-six percent of people surveyed said a raise would be the one thing that gets them to stay in their job. That was by far the most popular answer, beating out things like a new boss (8%), clearer goals (8%), better work/life balance (8%), employee recognition programs (4%), being able to work from home (4%), and better benefits (4%).

Twenty-two percent chose “other.”

Is Money Really the Answer?

Although the people we surveyed placed an emphasis on money, those complaints might be a tad disingenuous.

Despite the grousing about low pay, 55% of overall respondents said they actually received a raise in 2012. Even among the people who said they’ll be looking for jobs in 2013, more than half – 51% of those surveyed – said they got a bump in pay.

And it turns out workers don’t even necessarily have to be dissatisfied with their jobs to start job hunting, as 17% of those who claimed to be searching for a new job said they are happy in their current positions.

Want a Raise? We Can Help

First of all, be sure to check out and share our "New Year, New Job?" infographic by clicking here.

Then, if you've come to the conclusion a raise is the one and only way you're going to stay in your current job, can help.

The first thing you should do is research, so you're able to come to the table armed with the knowledge of what your job is worth. Use our free Salary Wizard below to find out what's a fair salary for your position. You can enter your location, education level, years of experience and more to find out an appropriate salary range before you negotiate.

Good luck.