At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, many workers found themselves without a job as businesses closed down to reduce the spread of the disease. Over a year later, the shortage continues, as job seekers realize that there are enough opportunities to go around — they're just not ones they want or qualify for.
Employment website FlexJobs found in its Summer 2021 Unemployment Survey that nearly half (48%) of unemployed job seekers are frustrated because they're not finding the right jobs to apply to. As a result, many are forced to broaden their search and apply for roles they wouldn't have considered before.
Job seeker mental health declines as they struggle to land work
FlexJobs discovered that the COVID-19 pandemic caused the loss of work for 69% of unemployed U.S. workers today, with 42% of them out of work for longer than a year.
And although just over 7 in 10 (72%) have received government assistance in the form of unemployment benefits or economic impact payments (also known as stimulus checks), only 13% of them have paused their job search because of this aid.
Meanwhile, another 69% of respondents maintain active and consistent efforts to land a new full-time job. In fact, the FlexJobs survey shows that, in addition to the 57% of job seekers using a free job search service to find opportunities they're qualified for, another one-third spend money on a paid job search service as well.
These efforts aren't getting would-be workers the results they're looking for, though, as many report that:
- Jobs are too low-paying (46%)
- Employers are unresponsive (42%)
- There aren't enough opportunities in their preferred professions (41%)
- They haven't secured any job interviews (34%)
- There aren't any opportunities worth pursuing in the last month (15%)
And with the majority of workers prioritizing work-from-home opportunities over in-house ones, especially in the midst of the current health crisis, the number of roles available to them shrink even further. With all this in mind, it's little wonder that 53% of unemployed respondents agree that their mental health is worse now than before the pandemic started.
Respondents broaden their job search efforts
In order to compensate for the slimmer pickings in the current job market, FlexJobs showed that many unemployed job seekers have begun expanding their job search to opportunities outside of their ideal role. Specifically, the survey found that respondents:
- Are willing to take a pay cut in order to secure a job (85%), including 12% who are willing to take a pay cut of more than 20% their current rate
- Have considered applying to jobs they think they're overqualified for (56%) or actually have applied (40%)
- Are open to working in any kind of workplace, whether in office, remote or hybrid (42%)
- Have considered looking outside of their career for new opportunities (35%)
Despite it all, the majority of job seekers are keeping a positive outlook on things — 60% of respondents remain optimistic about finding a new job in the next six months.
Methodology: FlexJobs created an online poll via Survey Monkey and distributed it to its subscribers, members and general audiences through social media and newsletters between June 8-28, 2021. The survey sample was composed of 1,800 unemployed workers.