What job seekers wantNews added by Benefits Pro on July 28, 2014
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By Rob McCarthy

Why and how people decide to change careers have always stumped economists. It’s apparently not for the money because the highest-paid profession in the country is restless, and health care workers are the most satisfied regardless of their salaries, according to a study by Indeed.com.

“Economists have long wondered what prompts an individual to change occupations. If someone decides to search for a new job how do they decide whether or not to move into a new occupation, which occupations do they consider, and what implications does that have for their current occupation,” Tara Sinclair wrote in “What Job Seekers Want: Occupation Satisfaction & Desirability Report.”

Past labor market research has concentrated on where job seekers landed after leaving an employer. Sinclair’s study for Indeed is more predictive of which occupations could be losing workforce.

“Answers to these questions can … equip employers with information to effectively attract job candidates to particular positions. Employers can also begin to better understand and evaluate how they compete for new employees” she wrote.

Licensed health practitioners and technical staff are the most loyal to their professions. They searched only health care job listings nearly 75 percent of the time, Sinclair reported after crunching one month’s data from 430,000 of the web site’s users back in May 2013.

Employed Indeed users looked at other occupations a whopping 81 percent of the time, and searched in their own occupations less than half the time. Other key findings:
  • Health care ranks fifth in average wages, yet tops the satisfaction survey.
  • Health care support has a surprisingly high satisfaction rating despite low salaries.
  • Those with highly specialized jobs (medicine, law, architecture, office administrative) stay put.
  • Despite the highest average salary, management looked at other occupations more than 50 percent of the time.
Yvonne Bar-Yotam is a Los Angeles-based executive recruiter with 20 years’ experience, and her advice for hiring managers and recruiters is: Hire the best candidate, and not necessarily the one with on-the-job experience.

“The recruiter needs to look at what kind of talent the person has; what kind of personality they have, and can they communicate? In addition, look at what they’ve done in their careers and how they can apply it to the position you’re trying to fill,” Bar-Yotam said.

The ability to write is important because of email and applications like SnapChat and Hall, she said. Intelligent people who know how to prioritize, follow up and communicate are always assets to a business.

“If you have computer skills you’re going to bring that with you. If you can meet deadlines, you bring that to the new job,” she said.
Salary isn’t the most accurate predictor of job satisfaction, based on the Indeed data.

The highest-paid profession is management, which has a satisfaction index just above average.

The outlier in the Satisfaction Index rankings is office and administrative support. The pay is just average, yet office work apparently is more appealing than working with math, engineering, business, finance or even arts and entertainment. The lowest-paid category is farming, fishing and forestry, which ranks last in desirability to someone from outside the field.

All about the Benjamins

The general assumption is that highly paid professionals stick around because of the money, and that is borne out to some degree by Indeed.com’s data. However, the reasons why currently employed people with specialized skills (medicine, law) don’t cruise online job listings for a career change job could be non-financial.

“Job seekers may be satisfied with their career choice, or they may simply feel locked in after specialization,” Sinclair offered in her report.

Executive recruiter Bar-Yotam said that some job seekers looking outside their occupations are looking for their dream job or they’re in the throes of a midlife crisis. Working parents make career changes to spend more time with their children when they're young, too.

"There is so much information on the Internet that it encourages a person to wander into different directions when they're thinking about a job change," Bar-Yotam added.

Economist Sinclair credits the labor force for knowing which occupations are adding jobs and hiring new employees. It’s job supply that drives the migration of U.S. workers within the labor force, according to Sinclair.

Right now, jobs in sales, business and financial sectors, and management are hot with job seekers.

“While salary has little impact, the relative volume of job postings in an occupation is a key factor in attracting job seekers,” she wrote.
Indeed.com’s study also looked at a metric called “desirability.” Desirability counts the number of job seekers on Indeed.com who looked at occupations that weren’t their own, and ranked them from one through 23. The high ranking for office and administrative jobs (25.4 percent), for example, means a high level of interest from outside the current office and admin workforce.

Management had the second-highest interest from outside the profession (16.2), followed by business and financial operations (12.5). With the interest in office and administrative and management and sales, hiring managers can expect more job applicants and a deeper talent pool from which to select new hires, based on the desirability metric.

Tech talent shortage

That America is facing a shortage of qualified computer scientists and engineers is hardly surprising.

A December 2013 article in U.S. News and World Report lamented there are no computer science classes at nine of 10 high schools in the United States. Also computer sciences don’t count toward high school math or science graduation requirements in 33 states, according to writer Allie Bidwell in “Tech Companies Work to Combat Computer Science Education Gap.”

Opportunity abounds in the computer and mathematical professions, based on Indeed.com’s data. So does life, physical and social science, and healthcare and tech jobs in medicine.

The industry that has the hardest time attracting interest on Indeed’s job boards is food service. Despite the popularity of The Food Network and shows such as “Iron Chef,” job seekers decided they couldn’t stand the heat and stayed out of the kitchen. Positions for line cooks, servers, bartenders and hostesses were unpopular with Indeed.com’s audience.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond (Virginia) in April released its own labor-market behavior report. The Fed researchers, however, looked at the job-search habits of the unemployed. Fed researchers wanted to know if workers take a random or a systematic approach to applying for jobs. Their findings can be found here.

There is no such thing as a perfect candidate, and even the most experienced recruiter will get fooled.

“You never really are 100 percent sure. Maybe 80 percent, and I’ve been doing this for over 20 years.” Bar-Yotam admitted.

Rob McCarthy is a freelance writer based in Southern California.

Originally published on BenefitsPro.com
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