Though 2024 is only about halfway over, I think most of us can agree that this year has been anything but predictable. Hiring is all over the place, with some sectors facing layoffs while others continue to staff. Even the monthly BLS jobs report offers little clarity amid the relative chaos. And that’s without getting into the other myriad factors impacting the recruiting landscape. 

Still, even without a pithy catchphrase to describe what’s happening (Great Resignation, anyone?), it’s evident that there are gaps between where employers stand and what job seekers experience. That’s what the 2024 Employ Job Seeker Nation Report sought to uncover by surveying more than 1,500 U.S. workers in April. Here’s a look at some of what these folks had to say: 

  • They’re keeping the door open. While 79 percent of workers are satisfied with their current jobs, some 86 percent would entertain other opportunities, with 46 percent eager to see what’s next. 
  • They’re starting with what they know. Though 4 in 10 workers indicated they are seeking new employment, the majority (58 percent) have looked for a new position within their current company. 
  • They’re after more than just money. Higher compensation is a factor in looking for a new job, but it’s not the only one. Career advancement, greater flexibility or remote work, better company leadership, better company culture and a change in location are also top of mind.
  • They’re confident in their candidacy. Half of active candidates believe that finding a job in this current market is easy, with 56 percent saying that today’s job market favors candidates. Collectively, about two-thirds of respondents think it will take them less than three months to find a new job. 
  • They do have some concerns. Year over year, workers’ concerns about layoffs increased by six percentage points to 40 percent in 2024. At the same time, concerns about their employer’s financial future also rose four points to 38 percent. 

But what does it all mean? Our team’s analysis shows that while workers understand the complexities of the labor market, their stress levels are a strong motivator for wanting to find a new job. That means no matter what’s happening externally, if a worker is unhappy, they will seek other opportunities. 

Recognizing this, employers need to keep hiring practices attuned to job seekers, whether they have one position open or one hundred. And when it comes to the candidate experience, U.S. workers have plenty of opinions, including: 

    • Speed rules. More than three-quarters (78 percent) of workers expect the job application to take less than 30 minutes. Nearly 45 percent believe the job application process should take less than 15 minutes. 
    • Keep it simple. Given that speed is a factor, it’s no surprise that job seekers aren’t interested in complexity. Requirements such as reentering the information from their resume, joining a talent network, registering to apply or having to create a talent profile are all deal breakers for candidates who said they would abandon their application.  
    • Room for improvement. Asked if there was something that employers should focus on less during hiring, roughly half pointed to social media reviews, 41 percent said gaps in resumes and 35 percent pointed right back to the length of the process. 
    • Expires by. When it comes to communication, more is more with job seekers. Some 52 percent expect to hear back from a recruiter within 1 to 3 days, while another 31 percent expect to hear back in less than a week. Likewise, if not selected for a job, 40 percent of candidates expect to hear back in 1 to 3 days, while again, 31 percent expect to hear back in less than a week. 
    • All the right reasons. Regarding positive experiences, over half of those surveyed cited great communication, an easy application process and easy-to-schedule interviews as their top reasons. 

So, where do we go from here? Without psychic powers, it’s tough to say what the hiring landscape will look like six months or even six weeks from now. That said, U.S. workers have clearly demonstrated what’s important to them as employees and job seekers. By considering their preferences, it becomes possible to build hiring processes that account for the needs of the company as well as the candidate. In practice, that means relying on technology to develop processes that favor expediency without compromising care and communication along the way. And that’s true for all companies of all sizes and all candidates at all stages of their careers, regardless of where the market stands.  

Stephanie Manzelli

Senior Vice President of Human Resources and DEI at Employ. A seasoned and dynamic HR executive who partners with leadership teams to develop ongoing strategic priorities that influence and guide employees to improve business outcomes, Stephanie has held leadership roles across retail, insurance, technology, and software. She most recently served as Vice President of people and culture at SmartBear. Stephanie has expertise in employee engagement, HR Strategy, learning and development, talent acquisition, employee relations, and total rewards, as well as a track record of coaching in areas of transformation leadership, team building, and managing change with proven success in marrying the needs of business and employees on a global scale.


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