As we enter 2022 in the midst of an ongoing labor shortage, the narrative around this issue paints a picture of jobs across the country ripe for the taking. Millions of Americans continue to quit their jobs as part of the Great Resignation and employers are struggling to fill positions, so it would appear that now is a great time to be a job seeker. However, is this “hot” job market all it’s made out to be?
In January we asked 1,000 skilled job seekers (defined as those having a technical, university, or postgraduate degree who are currently looking for a job or started a new position in the past 6 months) in the U.S. about their job search, and it turns out that the labor shortage has not actually made things as easy for them as one might think.
- 29% of skilled workers say they receive an interview less than 10% of the time
- Half of skilled workers rate their search as going badly or very badly
- 60% have been ghosted by an employer during their job search
- 61% believe they would have a better chance in a less skilled field
29% of Skilled Workers Get an Interview Less Than 10% of the Time
Although employers are struggling to find new hires, the largest percentage of our respondents (29%) said that they receive an interview after applying for a job less than 10% of the time. Twenty-eight percent say they receive an interview 10% – 25% of the time, 23% of respondents say they get an interview 25% – 50% of the time, and only 20% of respondents say they have an interview success rate of over 50% after applying for a job.
20% of Respondents Have Applied for 50+ Positions
In conjunction with a low interview success rate, many respondents reported that they have applied for more than 50 positions over the course of their job search. Bonny Albo, a writer, managing editor, and marketing strategist who has worked for publications such as The New York Times, talked about how after taking a data analysis course. She was able to calculate her own interview success rate of just one in 274.
“…That’s my 6-month ‘success’ rate. For every 274 jobs I applied for, I earned one interview,” Bonny explained. “Of those jobs, none were ideal financially, but I was willing to accept a lower rate than normal just to get back to work and pay my bills. There was one offer in those six months, and the hiring manager told me I was more qualified to do their job than they were,” she elaborated.
50% Say Search is Going Badly or Very Badly
We asked survey respondents to rate how well their search is going, and half responded that their job search is going badly or very badly. This contrasts strongly with their original outlook, as over 60% of respondents said that they believed it would be easy or very easy to find a job when they first started their search. Sixty-one percent of respondents even say that they do in fact believe the current labor market is hot for skilled job seekers. Their results, however, are not living up to expectations, as 28% have been looking for a job for more than three months.
Brandi Harvey, a job seeker who works in digital marketing and SEO, explained her frustrations with a seemingly great job market and navigating job application AI. “The field is wide open with new jobs posted daily, and the prospects are fantastic, with most being remote, which is what I’m hoping for. However, application software is killing my hope of finding a new position with a livable wage and benefits,” she said.
“I have had success in my position, helping clients rank and gain conversions, and would love to continue learning and working…As of yet, however, I haven’t even had a nibble, despite having my resume worked over by an expert,” she finished.
“So many applicants are not getting any traction due to Applicant Tracking Systems which systematically reject applicants for reasons that do not have to do with their ability to do the job,” explained career consultant Stacie Haller.
“Many organizations are recognizing this and acknowledge that changes are needed in order to hire the workforce they need. There is a reassessment going on here as well. Still, applicants must make sure all the info is filled out in these systems, without errors or typos, and include a cover letter where they can express their qualifications and interest,” she continued.
60% Have Been Ghosted by an Employer During the Labor Shortage
Once again, despite the ongoing narrative describing hiring managers desperate for new employees, well over half of our respondents say they have been ghosted by an employer during their job search.
Bonny Albo talked about her experience with this saying, “Every job I applied for, I met the requirements exactly or exceeded them, but received a grand total of one interview…That employer ghosted me. I only found out they’d hired someone else when I read the announcement on Twitter.”
61% Believe They Would Have a Better Chance in a Less Skilled Field
Well over half of skilled job seekers think that they would have a better chance of getting a job if they applied to a less skilled position. In fact, 53% say they have started to apply for jobs outside of their desired criteria to give themselves a better chance.
“Skilled applicants should discuss with hiring managers how their skills can pivot to a new position or exemplify how they have learned new skills quickly in the past and immediately contributed to their new position and organization,” Stacie Haller added.
“Do not look to downgrade yourself, look at how your skills can translate as so many more managers are open to this now. They want to know you can quickly learn as they are more willing to train. And, this is a time where you don’t necessarily need to stick to your field, look at others that interest you where your skills are transferable or you can pick up new ones to add to your repertoire,” she finished.
Newly Hired Employees Settled for Positions in Different Fields
Of the skilled job seekers we surveyed who have recently accepted a new position, 42% say they took a job in a different field than they originally wanted, and 20% say it took them more than three months to land that job.
Bonny Albo elaborated on the ways she’s been able to make ends meet. “I’ve found a few things that have helped me stay sane and pay my bills. I’ve accepted short-term contract work for marketing projects that normally I would hire out myself. For the elusive dream gig, I’ve stopped applying to every job posting that I’m qualified for…I review salary and company reviews on places like GlassDoor, and if that all pans out only then do I apply.”
Salary is the Main Motivator for Job Search, Yet 41% Have Been Offered a Job at Lower Pay
When asked about their motivations for seeking a new job, the largest group (22%) cited salary as the main reason. However, despite many employers offering higher salaries and sign-on bonuses to attract new applicants, 41% of our respondents say that they’ve been offered a salary lower than desired during their job search.
According to our data, the job opportunities for skilled workers are not as plentiful as the news around the labor shortage would have them appear. Although many respondents started off initially positive about their job prospects, the majority have struggled with a long period of job-seeking and a low interview success rate, even going so far as to apply to and accept less skilled positions outside of their fields.
This survey was commissioned by ResumeBuilder.com and conducted online by the survey platform Pollfish between January 17 and January 18, 2022. In total, 1,000 participants in the U.S. were surveyed. All participants had to pass through screening questions to ensure they were currently looking for a new job or had started a new position within the past six months. Skilled job seekers are defined here as survey respondents with a technical college, university, or postgraduate degree.