‘The Great Resignation’ Gives Employees the Upper Hand in Job Search

By paul owers | 10/25/2021

Employees may have all the leverage in today’s job market, but looking for work is still a grind that must be managed correctly, according to a human resources expert at Florida Atlantic University.

U.S. workers quit their jobs at a rate of 2.9 percent in August, the highest level on records that go back to 2000. The COVID-19 pandemic has spawned what some economists call “The Great Resignation,” a mass exodus of employees in search of new positions that offer more money, flexibility and satisfaction. 

“There’s a lot of optimism, but the reality is the job search is a process that involves a lot of setbacks and difficulties,” said Michael B. Harari, Ph.D., an associate professor of management programs in FAU’s College of Business. “Faced with these hurdles, it’s easy for people to get frustrated and give up.”

A successful job search includes consistent effort and a focused approach, according to Harari, who teaches human resource management courses and researches talent acquisition and employability.

“Treat it like a job, in a sense,” he said. “Put it on your calendar so that every Monday and Thursday from 9 to 10 a.m., for example, you’re working on your job search.”

“But don’t apply for anything and everything,” he added. “Look for jobs that are a good fit so that you can make a good impression on prospective employers.”

Surveys from hiring managers consistently show that employers are looking for candidates who have the knowledge and skills to perform the job, as well as good interpersonal skills and a willingness to work hard.

If the job search is successful, candidates will find themselves in front of employers, but many job interviews now are conducted virtually, which can be a new experience for some people, according to Harari.

For example, eye contact in a virtual interview means looking at the camera on the computer rather than at the person on the screen.

“That takes some practice and getting used to,” he said.

Meanwhile, employers need to adapt to the decided shift in the job market. During a labor surplus, organizations hold the upper hand, but in the current applicant-driven climate, managing the candidate experience is more important than ever, Harari said.

Employers must be mindful of candidates’ time, be polite and courteous, get back to candidates in a timely manner and treat the candidates fairly, according to Harari.

“The research is very clear,” Harari said. “When the candidate experience is managed well, candidates are more likely to accept jobs when offered, they’re less likely to drop out of your applicant pool and they’re likely to benefit your applicant pool in other ways, like recommending their friends to apply for jobs with your organization.”

Finally, both candidates and employers would be wise to recognize that the current climate is likely only temporary, according to Harari.

“Although things are very favorable toward the job seeker now, it’s not as though the rules have changed for good,” he said. “This is something that ebbs and flows over time.”