Today’s unemployed job seekers haven’t had the easiest time finding work. That pesky recession – over or not – has put a damper on career prospects for millions of Americans. The job situation is more complicated than applying and waiting for an offer, finds a new survey by Personified, CareerBuilder’s talent-consulting arm. Job seekers aren’t only looking for a job, they want to find one that suits their lifestyle and goals.
Seventeen percent of unemployed workers have received at least one job offer since they became unemployed, yet 92 percent of them declined the offers. Why? As you might expect, pay was the most commonly cited reason candidates turned down a job. In fact, 54 percent of surveyed workers say the salary offered was at least 25 percent less than their most recent salaries.
Why you might say no
While money is the premier reason to say no to an offer, it’s not the only one. Job seekers turned down jobs because the commute was too long, the job title was too low, the position was not in their preferred field, or the opportunity to advance was too limited.
At first glance you might think, “If you’re offered a job in this economy, why wouldn’t you take it?” Sure, in theory any job is better than no job. In reality, job offers require careful examination. For example, if you’re offered a job at an office 20 miles away, you have to consider paying for gas and the wear and tear on your car. And you need to make sure your work attire is appropriate, which can mean buying new clothes or adding a weekly dry-cleaning bill. If you’re a parent, will you need to find a sitter or pay for day care? Add up these expenses and you could be losing money by taking the first job that comes your way.
For job seekers who can afford to be selective about offers, long-term benefits or setbacks influence decision making. A lower position or reduced salary can cause a worker to regress in his career and have to work several years to once again reach the previous level. In another scenario, if a worker thinks her ideal job is within reach, she wouldn’t want to accept an offer and leave three months later when the better one comes along.
A complicated decision
Further proof that job searches are more nuanced processes than simply saying “yes” or “no” can be found in the breakdown of who is searching and how frequently:
- Workers with post-graduate degrees look more frequently and apply to more jobs than those with any other levels of education.
- Workers with no college degree apply more frequently and to more jobs than workers with a college diploma.
- Workers with a college degree but no post-graduate diploma have the least aggressive approach to finding work.
You can speculate on why this is, but no one theory works for every job seeker. For example, post-graduate workers might earn more and be older, but the implications of that can differ. It might mean they have bigger savings accounts to live off of and no young children to occupy their time, so they can spend their days aggressively searching and applying without distraction. Or it might mean that they have educational debt and a lifestyle with bigger bills and that, if retirement is looming, they need to search aggressively to maintain their lifestyle.
No two job seekers are identical, and that holds true for each demographic. Similarly, workers whose previous annual income was $100,000 or higher spend more time searching for jobs than workers at any other income level. Do they need to find a job quickly because of their expensive lifestyles or are high-paying jobs harder to come by and therefore require more intense searches? The answer depends on the individual.
Health benefits are important for many workers, and losing those benefits is a significant issue. Of surveyed unemployed workers, 49 percent do not have health insurance, and for those unemployed for more than a year, the amount increases to 55 percent. And for all the talk we’ve seen in the news of extending unemployment benefits, most job seekers don’t plan to change their approach to finding work because of benefits. Fifty-two percent of workers surveyed don’t expect an extension to affect their search, 31 percent think it will allow them to find a job that is in line with their career goals, and 15 percent think it will put a new sense of urgency on their searches.
No one knows the thought that goes into mulling a job offer better than today’s job seekers. Since you began searching for a job, has your experience been similar to these job seekers? Have you had to turn down a job because the pay was too low? Are you holding out for a job that satisfies your financial needs and career goals? Are these job seekers being too picky? Let us know in the comments.