Majority of Job Seekers Consider Changing Careers, CompTIA Study Finds

Career Climbers / 2nd August 2021

A majority of active job seekers have explored new employment options in a different career field, according to a new report from CompTIA, the nonprofit association for the information technology (IT) industry and workforce.

Among current job seekers (approximately 28% of the workforce), 60% said they have looked at new opportunities in a different career field in the past three months. That compares with the 63% of job seekers who have searched for jobs within their current or most recent career field. The findings are nearly consistent across gender, age, education and race/ethnicity.

“The data confirms the historic shifts occurring in the labor market,” said Todd Thibodeaux, president and CEO of CompTIA. “We must view this as an opportunity to reset outdated thinking in areas such as skills-based training and hiring. It is imperative we further expand talent pipelines and career pathway opportunities to meet employer needs, especially in the critical area of digital skills.”

CompTIA’s “Job Seeker Trends” study finds career exploration generally aligns with employer hiring activity, with large occupation categories such as hospitality, customer service, retail and healthcare topping the list. The middle tier includes job seekers exploring positions in fields such as IT, professional services, skilled trades and general business positions.

Year to date U.S. employers posted more than 25 million job advertisements seeking to fill openings across every industry sector and job type.

“An active job market is something employers should embrace, not bemoan,” Thibodeaux said. “Smart employers will look for people with potential, even someone who may not be a perfect fit on day one. With an investment in training, that person can quickly progress from an 80-percenter to a 100-percent contributor.”

One-half of survey respondents said they have previously made a significant career change and moved into a new career field. Just over half (52%) said the change had an overall positive impact on their career, while just 4% reported a negative outcome.

Among current job seekers looking at options in new fields 42% expect to be hired in a mid-level job, 30% in an entry-level role and 19% in an advanced position. Asked what actions they’ve taken in the last three months to enhance their careers, six in 10 said they applied for jobs online; about one-half updated their resume; approximately 40% searched for information about training and developing new skills; and about one-quarter used career planning tools, skills assessments or related resources.

Job seekers intend to use a variety of training resources to build their skills, with preferred methods often influenced by the type of job they are seeking. For example, online training courses were identified as the preferred option for individuals considering jobs in information technology (73%) and communications, multimedia, journalism or social media (73%). Self-study was the preference for respondents interested in arts, design, entertainment or sports jobs (67%), while 59% of people considering positions in construction skilled trades, operators or architects favored in-person training (59%).

The survey also identifies potential hurdles to a career change. About 40% of job seekers worry that new job options may not be sufficiently better than their existing job. Location is also a factor – whether it’s a perceived lack of attractive jobs options in a current locale or a reluctance to relocate to change jobs. The time and expense of training for a new job is another potential hurdle.

The “Job Seeker Trends” report is based on a quantitative research study of nearly 1,500 adults in the U.S. labor force. The survey was conducted by Morning Consult during the second half of June. Data were weighted to approximate the makeup of the U.S. workforce based on gender, educational attainment, age race and region.

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