- As the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the U.S. and a rise in unemployment ensued, many job seekers uprooted their lives and changed industries to find employment, according to an Oct. 20 report by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. In the second quarter of 2020, 19.57% of job seekers changed industries in their new position, an increase from 15% in the first quarter, the global outplacement and business and executive coaching firm found.
- In the second quarter, 7.5% of job seekers also opted to relocate for opportunities, compared to 3.8% in the first quarter, the lowest rate on record since Challenger began surveying job seekers in 1986, according to the report. And almost half (42%) of job seekers accepted positions at smaller companies in the second quarter, up from just over a third (37%) in the first quarter and 33% in the fourth quarter of 2019. The data comes from a quarterly phone and online survey of more than 3,000 job seekers nationwide. The majority of respondents skewed middle to upper management, Challenger said.
- "These trends show that the uncertainty due to the pandemic impacted how job candidates sought and accepted new positions in the second quarter," Andrew Challenger, senior vice president of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. said in a statement. The uncertainty is "ongoing," and is "most definitely still impacting the economy, and hampering any hiring planning the nation's employers are attempting for the new year," Challenger said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the "power" of the current job market to employers. In the labor market, "whoever has more choice has more power," according to a June report by Ladders, a job-search website. Layoffs, furloughs, hiring freezes and a rise in unemployment resulting from the pandemic gives employers more options than job seekers and employees, the company said.
Many job seekers are changing fields to obtain work, according to Challenger. This may stem from certain industries being economically impacted more than others, such as tourism. But adequate skill sets remain a hurdle. A May 28 survey by LiveCareer found that more than half (57%) of those recently unemployed could not identify transferable skills and 58% were unsure how to communicate transferable skills on a resume. About 58% of those surveyed said they lacked confidence in finding new jobs with their current skill sets.
Microsoft is one company seeking to upskill workers. In July, the tech giant and its LinkedIn unit launched a global skills initiative to help job seekers obtain skills for in-demand roles. The initiative also provides free access to content from LinkedIn Learning and low-cost Microsoft Certifications, according to the company.