Workers Looking to Ring In New Year With New Careers

December 21, 2016 – As the New Year approaches, organizations can expect their employees to be weighing options for a career change.

According to the latest WorkSphere survey from Spherion, New Year’s resolutions for 62 percent of American workers includes making a professional change, and while this can include things like overall performance improvement, learning a new professional skill, negotiating a higher salary, embarking on a new career or starting a new business, it seems that finding a new job is at the top of most lists.

The Spherion survey, recently conducted with market research data collection firm Research Now, also found that workers who plan to start a new job or career in 2017 cite higher pay (56 percent), a desire to try something new (45 percent) and better work/life balance (44 percent) as the primary reasons they’re looking wide and deep for new opportunities. Conversely, 72 percent of the workers who do not plan to find a new job or start a new career in 2017 say they are satisfied with their current work arrangement.

Improved Job Prospects?

Employees are virtually split on whether the New Year will bring improved job prospects. More than one fourth (27 percent) of workers think that 2017 will be a better year for jobs than 2016, while only slightly fewer (24 percent) disagree. And, despite recent optimism surrounding the current economic outlook, one third of all workers (33 percent) and nearly 40 percent of Millennials (workers ages 18-34) are more worried about the economy and its impact on their career than they were at this time last year. In addition, 20 percent of workers say that the 2016 presidential election results have impacted their 2017 professional plans.

“With the New Year approaching, it’s the perfect time for employees to take a step back and determine if they are truly happy with the trajectory of their careers, and whether they would like to make any changes to improve their current professional situations,” said Sandy Mazur, Spherion division president. “It’s equally important, however, for employers to take notice of employees’ priorities for the New Year to better meet their expectations and maximize the potential for retention and job happiness.”


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Not surprisingly, “making more money” tops the list of career-related resolutions for all workers in 2017 (28 percent). However, a salary increase isn’t the only adjustment workers will consider making in the New Year. According to the survey, 40 percent of workers are interested in relocating for professional reasons, and the same is true for 62 percent of Millennials. Furthermore, 90 percent of workers who have job or career-related resolutions are interested in changing industries.

Employers should act fast if they plan to retain employees whose New Year’s resolutions could result in significant turnover, as workers give themselves high marks for their ability to follow through on their resolutions. Forty two percent of workers give themselves an “A” or “B” grade for their ability to keep New Year’s resolutions, led by 62 percent of Millennials who would give themselves the same grades. In fact, the survey found that 46 percent of Millennials have made job/career-related resolutions more than once over the past five years, and 81 percent report following through.

Spherion uncovered several other noteworthy trends around workers’ plans for the New Year:

What Women (and Men) Want In 2017

  • More women than men who say they plan to start a new job or career in 2017 indicate higher pay (59 percent and 53 percent, respectively) as a primary inspiration, while 14 percent more men than women say the desired change is simply because they want to try something new.
  • Female workers who are considering changing industries in the New Year tend to express interest in jobs in the administrative and marketing communications industries (34 percent), while men are most open to jobs in the technology space (25 percent).

Workers Planning Professional Futures

  • Sixty percent of workers are not concerned that their job will become obsolete within the next five years.
  • Overall, 55 percent of workers prefer to stick with one professional endeavor and are disinterested in pursuing a second job in addition to their primary job. However, a notable number of Millennials (29 percent) would be interested in taking on a side gig.

West Coast is the Best Coast, According to Workers

  • The top four cities most desired by workers interested in relocating for their job are on the West Coast: Seattle (17 percent), San Francisco (16 percent), Los Angeles (16 percent) and Portland (15 percent).
  • New York City (25 percent), San Francisco (27 percent) and Los Angeles (25 percent) are in a virtual three-way tie for most popular destination among Millennial workers who want to relocate for professional reasons.
  • While New York City is desirable among Millennials, overall, workers say they would rather relocate internationally (15 percent) than to New York (14 percent).

Similar Findings

According to another recent report, ‘Competition for Talent in the U.S.,’ released by iCIMS, 63 percent of full time employees are looking or will be for a new job. Employees spanning all generations are looking at industries outside of the current one they are working within for new opportunities. The top industries candidates are considering migrating to include technology & software, entertainment, communications, banking & finance and consulting. According to the report, 71 percent of Millennials, 66 percent of Gen Xers and 44 percent of Baby Boomers are presently looking to move to another company.

“According to our survey, not only are employees willing to leave a company, but 77 percent are willing to switch industries and a shocking 56 percent would give up their full-time job to join the gig economy,” said Susan Vitale, chief marketing officer at iCIMS. “Being aware of the underlying factors for these changes is essential, as recruiters and HR professionals try to navigate the new landscape of workers.”

Companies Ready to Hire

With so many workers looking to find new opportunities in the New Year, it comes at a time when many companies also happen to be looking for new talent.

Eighty four percent of HR leaders say they are hiring for full time positions, according to a recent report by recruiting services company LaSalle Network. The survey also found that 70 percent of respondents feel optimistic about the economy. Leaders within the healthcare, technology, and education industries were more optimistic about their hiring plans.

Fifty percent of employers plan to hire full time, permanent workers, on par with 49 percent last year, according to CareerBuilder’s job forecast. Another 29 percent of employers plan to hire part-time employees, on par with 28 percent last year; and 32 percent of employers plan to hire temporary or contract workers, down slightly from 34 percent last year.

CareerBuilder’s study also found that information technology (68 percent), healthcare (65 percent), financial services (56 percent) and manufacturing (51 percent) are among industries expected to outperform the national average for full-time, permanent hiring.

Some Organizations Remain Cautious 

Nineteen percent of U.S. employers anticipate increasing staff levels in the first quarter of 2017, according to the latest ‘Manpower Employment Outlook Survey,’ released by ManpowerGroup. Nationally, workforce gains are anticipated in all 13 industry sectors during the first quarter, on the basis of seasonally adjusted figures: Leisure & hospitality (+27 percent); wholesale & retail trade (+20 percent); transportation & utilities (+19 percent); professional & business services (+17 percent); financial activities (+16 percent); government (+15 percent); construction (+14 percent); durable goods manufacturing (+14 percent); nondurable goods manufacturing (+14 percent); information (+13 percent); education & health services (+12 percent); other services (+nine percent); and mining (+six percent).

“In the wake of recent political events the majority of U.S. employers are now cautiously optimistic and intend to increase or keep their headcount stable for the next three months,” said Kip Wright, senior vice president, Manpower North America. “This a positive sign for job seekers and the economy at the start of 2017.” But not all skills are created equal. “We continue to see significant differences between industries and employers demanding increasingly specific skills to fill positions. Ensuring people can prosper and businesses can compete depends on developing a U.S. workforce that is prepared for the jobs of today, tomorrow and the future.”

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief, Hunt Scanlon Media

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