After two years of wild fluctuations in the economy and job market, American workers and employers still appear to be out of sync with each other.

In early June, surveyed 1,000 current job-seekers to find out why they’re job-hunting and what they’re prioritizing. We also surveyed 1,000 employers regarding what they’re doing to attract and retain workers. The surveys revealed gaps between what employees want and what employers are offering.

Key Findings

  • 45% of employees and 44% of employers say navigating the job market is more difficult now than it was before the pandemic
  • Job-seekers list ‘flexible schedules’ as their #1 priority. Only 1/3 of employers give workers the option to create their own schedules
  • 59% of job-hunters want new jobs with higher pay. 40% of employers have raised salaries
  • Workers are also seeking jobs with good health insurance and retirement benefits, but only about 1 in 5 employers have started offering or improved benefits in these areas

45% of job-seekers say finding a job is more difficult now than pre-pandemic

Employers have been vocal about their hiring struggles, especially since the Great Resignation kicked into high gear last year. Therefore, it’s not surprising that 44% of employers report that hiring new employees is more difficult now than it was pre-pandemic

What may come as a surprise is that a very similar number of those supposedly sought-after job-seekers, 45%, also say finding a new job is currently more difficult than it was pre-COVID.

These numbers demonstrate the tension between employers, who are used to holding the power in hiring, and employees who are enjoying new leverage in the job market, according to job search coach and executive recruiter Stacie Haller.

“Job seekers are more in the driver’s seat than ever before, and are being firmer in what they will and won’t accept with a new position,” she says. “Progressive companies willing to meet those needs are enjoying a great ability to hire, while those who refuse to move in a new direction are seeing repercussions. Employers need to incorporate these priorities in order to attract and retain talent. There are too many other choices for job-seekers to settle.”

Overall, employers and job-seekers are roughly in line with their perceptions of job-hunting and hiring in a post-pandemic world.

Twenty-six percent of job-seekers say finding a job is easier in 2022 than it was before the pandemic, while 23% of employers say hiring new employees is easier now.

Twenty-one percent of both workers and employers don’t see any changes in the degree of difficulty of finding a job or hiring employees. Eight percent of workers, and 11% of employers aren’t sure if there is any difference.

But for those on both sides who feel that navigating job-hunting and hiring is more difficult, the trouble may stem from the disconnect that exists between what job-seekers are looking for, and what employers are offering

Only 32% of employers offer flexible schedules, the #1 priority for job-seekers

When asked to rank what they’re prioritizing in their job searches, ‘flexible schedules’ topped the list of what workers want. ‘

This desire among workers for flexibility is connected to how things have changed since 2020.

“Life priorities and schedules had to be adapted when pandemic-related shutdowns started.” Haller says. “Employees saw they could accomplish their work responsibilities during non-traditional work hours or days. This opened the doors for an employee-centric life where work/life balance became more equitable for everyone. That’s what workers are demanding now.”

However, according to our employer survey, only 32% of companies are allowing their employees to create their own schedules. Certain industries are slightly more likely to offer employees the option to create their own schedules, including advertising and marketing (43%), business and finance (41%), and arts and entertainment (41%), but it may not be enough to keep up with the demand for flexible jobs.

The pandemic also upended ideas about flexibility in terms of where work can be done.

Job-seekers ranked ‘the ability to choose my work location’ as # 6 on their priority list. However, only 17% of employers allow all employees to choose whether they work in-person, remotely, or in a hybrid of the two. Another 10% of employers say that some workers at their company can choose where they work, while others can’t.

This group of employers may or may not make up for the fact that there are gaps between the number of job-seekers who want fully remote or hybrid jobs, and the number of employers who have those types of jobs available.

Thirty-one percent of job-seekers are looking for a fully remote job, but only 23% of employers say all positions at their companies are remote. An additional 23% of job-seekers want a hybrid job in which they work both remotely and in-person. Eighteen percent of employers are operating with fully hybrid schedules.

Thirty-one percent of employers are requiring all of their employees to work in person. This is aligned with how many job-seekers want to work in person (32%).

Making things more difficult for job-seekers is the fact that some employers are misrepresenting job requirements in their job postings. Thirty-six percent of job-seekers report applying for jobs that were advertised as fully remote, only to learn that they actually had in-person requirements.

Haller says that employers who are sticking to the old ways of doing business, with mandates about where and when work can be done, may be missing out on qualified employees.

“Pre-COVID, flexible schedules were mostly shunned in the corporate world, but employees are proving they can manage and exceed job expectations while having a work/life balance, resulting in low turnover within companies,” she says. “Since progressive organizations are getting on board with this, job-seekers are flocking to those companies, In turn, those organizations are able to hire top talent.”

60% of employers haven’t increased pay, another key priority for job-seekers

Given that inflation has reached its highest level in decades in 2022, it’s also understandable that for job-seekers, their #2 priority is jobs with ‘pay increases that track inflation.’ Fifty-nine percent of job-seekers say the reason they’re looking for a new job is that they want higher pay.

However, the majority of employers haven’t raised wages this year; just 40% of all employers say they’ve increased pay since May 2021 in an effort to attract and retain employees.

Again, there is some variation by industry, especially if they were hit hard by changes wrought by the pandemic. Fifty-one percent of employers in food and hospitality and 47% of retail employers report increasing pay since last year.

But in 2022, job-seekers aren’t afraid to hold out for what they think they’re worth. Thirty-eight percent of respondents turned down a job offer because ‘the salary was inadequate for the level of education, experience, and/or responsibility the job required.’

Job-seekers are also taking salary information into account when deciding whether it’s worth their time and effort to even apply for a job. Twenty-four percent of job-hunters say they’re ‘not at all likely’ to apply for a job if the posting doesn’t include salary information, while 40% are ‘somewhat likely.’

For their part, 53% of employers ‘always’ include salary information in their job postings. Thirty-one percent include a salary range in ‘some but not all job postings,’ while the remaining 16% ‘never’ list salary information in job advertisements. Fifty-three percent of job-seekers say they’ve encountered job postings that don’t include salary information.

Majority of employers haven’t improved benefits

Rounding out the top 5 of job-seekers’ list of priorities are unlimited paid time off, retirement benefits, and health insurance.

Again, job-hunters may struggle to find jobs that provide these benefits.

Thirty-three percent of employers have increased the amount of paid leave employees get within the last year. Twenty-three percent have started offering or improved their retirement benefits. Eighteen percent have started offering or improved their health insurance benefits.

This is roughly the same percentage of employers who have added or increased benefits that job-seekers aren’t prioritizing as highly, including education benefits, such as tuition assistance and student loan repayments (19%) and onsite amenities like fitness centers, staff lunches, and outdoor spaces (18%).

Interview no-shows a common problem for both employers and job-seekers

Even when job-seekers manage to find an open position they want, or employers select a candidate they think might be a good fit for a role, challenges may still arise.

Thirty-nine percent of employers say they’ve had job applicants not show up for interviews, while 37% have hired workers, only to have them no-show for their first day on the job, or quit shortly after starting.

Among job-seekers, 29% report being stood up by an employer for an interview. Nearly half, 47%, also say that they’ve submitted applications, but never received responses from the employer to which they replied.

It’s unclear when the U.S. will emerge from this rough labor market, but Haller says one thing is certain: “The pandemic has permanently changed the way job-seekers and employers engage in the hiring process, as well as what job-seekers are looking for.”


All data found within this report derives from two surveys commissioned by, and conducted online by survey platform Pollfish. One survey, conducted on June 3, 2022, surveyed 1,000 American adults 18 and older who are currently seeking a new job. The second survey, conducted from June 3-4, 2022, surveyed 1,000 employers, including hiring managers, directors, business owners, and senior management personnel. Appropriate respondents for both surveys were found using Pollfish’s screening tools. All respondents were asked to answer all questions truthfully and to the best of their abilities. For more information, please contact Content Marketing Manager Kristen Scatton at [email protected].