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Why Is It So
Hard to Hire?

Job seeker survey results are in: What workers are looking for

After a year of pandemic angst and economic upheaval, the post-Covid recovery seems to have truly arrived. Companies everywhere are hiring! Except... where are the job seekers? McDonald’s is paying people $50 to interview. Sign-on bonuses are becoming a trend, even for lightly-skilled positions. Some businesses are even cutting the hours they are open because they just don’t have the employees. So what gives? We dive into the reasons for this lack of interest, plus we ask those that are actively looking for work what’s most important to them, in our latest job seeker survey.

Why are job seekers not accepting jobs?

Job candidate search icon.

It’s not just one simple answer. Several major forces are working together to create a tough labor market for companies looking to hire. Let’s dive into the top reasons why people are hesitant to re-enter the workforce.

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Childcare and homecare

One of the top reasons that people aren’t working is because they can’t leave the home. In households with kids going to school virtually, a parent often needs to be present. While these families would prefer two incomes, if they can get by on one, they may choose to for the good of their family.

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Not worth the money

While the debate around a $15 minimum wage continues, businesses are finding that they have to pay that much just to hire the people they need. For jobs that are high-stress, with inflexible hours and few benefits, it’s just not enough money to entice applicants.

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Unemployment and stimulus payments

Even economists can’t agree about the effects of unemployment benefits on the economy: Are they helping people who desperately need it, or encouraging people to stay at home? Some argue that the extended benefits have gone too far and have even discouraged people from working.

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While 66% of surveyed job seekers reported that they received some sort of stimulus payment, only 16% are currently receiving unemployment benefits.

57 percent icon.

57% of job seekers reported that their job search was just as urgent with these government-backed benefits and that the boosts did not deter them from their job search.

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Of the two, stimulus payments had more of an effect on job urgency than unemployment benefits.

Are candidates ghosting recruiters?

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Job candidates ghosting recruiters icon.

It’s not that workers aren’t trying to get jobs. 46% of job seekers report that they’ve been looking for a job for less than a month. And when asked if they’ve ever blown off a recruiter who showed interest in them, only 15% reported that to be true.

*** Sources: The New York Times, YaleNews, The Journal

What can employers do to attract workers?

While job seekers have been the focus of much of the economic discussion over the past year, employers and recruiters are currently struggling to find the workers they need. Here's what job seekers are looking for, and what recruiters can do to attract a higher volume of workers.

What is the most important factor in your current job search

Important job search factors chart.
Higher wage offers icon.

Offer higher wages

The number one thing job seekers are looking for in their search? Pay. 39% of our 1,000 survey respondents said that compensation was the most important factor in their search. While raising wages will attract more workers, it’s often a cost that smaller businesses just can’t afford.

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Allow for flexible schedules

37% of respondents said that flexible hours were the biggest thing they’re looking for in their current job search. This especially makes sense for people who need to work around their kids’ school schedules. Flexibility is an area where smaller businesses can shine if they cannot afford to pay more.

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Adjust your budget expectations

When job competition is fierce, it’s always a good idea to lower your expectations and increase your bids. To be competitive in your space, you’ll have to bid higher to make sure that your job postings are the ones candidates are seeing, not your competitors’.

What is less important to workers?

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One-time bonuses

Rather surprisingly, 53% of our respondents said that a one-time sign-on bonus would not be a factor in what job they choose to work. This attests to how the long-term benefits of a high wage and better schedule will do more to attract workers than a one-time interview payment or sign-on bonus.

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Ensured safety

As vaccine availability expands, only 11% of job seekers are concerned about safety. Interesting to note: the people most concerned about safety have been on the job hunt the longest. Of respondents looking for a job for 4 months or more, 38% of them listed safe conditions as the most important factor.

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Better benefits

Only 13% of respondents cited better benefits as the most important part of their current job search, making it one of the least important factors in the current hiring mismatch.

*** Sources: The New York Times, Insider, Talroo Job Seeker Survey

Labor market insights

Here’s what hiring looks like so far in 2021:

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Daily jobs posted

Daily job postings have increased steadily throughout 2021, matching the narrative we know – that hiring is picking up across many industries.

Daily job searches chart.

Daily searches

Searches, on the other hand, are trending slightly down. They peaked in January, as they do every year, and have slowly decreased from there.

Daily job clicks chart.

Daily clicks

Most telling of all, job clicks, where job seekers show most intention of applying for a job, had a decrease in the past few months, and have only recently started to slowly improve. Time will tell if employers can get on the same page as job seekers and start to offer the things that they will need to re-enter the labor force.

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*** Source: Talroo’s Insights business intelligence tool sifted through 6 billion points of data including job postings and job seeker activity from March 2020 - May 2021. Insights also provides major and minor job classification data as well as geographic data from the national level to cities and zip codes.