Has Job Hunting Become Your Hobby?
If you are job hunting during the workday, you are not alone. According to a new survey by Right Management, a whopping 86 percent of workers said that they plan to actively seek a new position in 2013, up slightly from 84 percent in 2011.
Yet statistics show turnover is actually slowing down, and people are more loyal than they have been for decades. American workers don't live in an age of constant job-hopping, it seems, but constant, casual job-hunting.
According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, just 1.5 percent of workers quit their jobs each month of 2011 -- less than 18 percent in a year. Which means that all those job seekers in the Right Management poll either spent a year lucklessly hunting for new work, or a year not trying that hard.
Many Job Hunters Are Just 'Window Shopping'
"With so many job boards and constant social networking, workers appear to have convinced themselves that they're truly job hunting when all they're doing is cruising the Internet," CEO of ManpowerGroup Specialty Brands, Owen J. Sullivan, said in a press release. "The Internet job boards are sort of like window shopping, something to do in a down moment."
Today workers can sign up for customized alerts on CareerBuilder. Instead of handing out your card with a hopeful smile, you can shoot out a dozen queries on LinkedIn. Resumes are no longer stamped and mailed by hand, but attached to an email with a click.
Americans can be "actively" looking for work without being very active at all. Just as the internet has turned many of us into photographers -- blasting artfully-unfocused photos out to the world in seconds -- it may also have transformed us into chronic job-hunters.
Workers Are More 'Loyal' Than They Have Been In Years
Whether this "loyalty" is inspired by a love of the job, fear of change or just a lousy job market isn't clear, but employee tenure is on the rise. According to January 2012 statistics, U.S. workers 25 or older have been in their current job for an average of 5.4 years, a few months longer than workers' tenure in 1983 -- when the Bureau of Labor Statistics began keeping track. Average tenure has been rising continuously for women since the early 80s, as more women entered and stayed in the workforce. For men, it dropped during the 80s and 90s, but has been climbing since 2004.
Even younger workers -- often stereotyped as being perpetual job-hoppers -- are slightly more likely to stay with their current employers than past generations. And the percentage of American workers over 25 who have been with their current employer for more than a decade was 34 percent in January, compared to 32 percent in January, 1983.
Job Hunting As A Hobby
When the career site Glassdoor asked over 2,000 people to choose up to three "work-related resolutions" for 2013, only 23 percent selected "look for a new job," beaten out by "salary raise" (32 percent) and "develop leadership skills (24 percent). Landing a new position just wasn't most people's top priority.
For many Americans, it seems, job-hunting has become more of a casual hobby than a dedicated mission. It's something to fill a fitful hour, like checking the price of flights to Rio for the trip you fantasize about taking, or cleaning up your email inbox.
Or perhaps it has a soothing effect, reassuring workers that they're not missing out on a glittering opportunity, because they'll know when one pops up. For many of us, the job hunt may be more for sport than food. If the catch is good enough, we'll feast. But otherwise, it's just good exercise.
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Claire Gordon has contributed to Slate's DoubleX, the Huffington Post, and the book Prisons: Current Controversies. While an undergraduate at Yale University and a research fellow at Yale graduate school, she spoke on panels at Yale and Cornell, and reported from Cairo, Tokyo, and Berlin.
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