2015 Brings More Opportunities for Job Seekers

By Toni Vranjes

January 13, 2015

As the economy improves, many employers are struggling to fill job openings.

The types of workers in demand are varied, ranging from healthcare providers to truck drivers. Companies need to find innovative ways to increase interest in these fields, especially among the youngest generation in the workforce, said Indeed Chief Economist Tara Sinclair.

As businesses face a growing need for more talent, applicants are gaining more opportunities. In general, the power has been shifting towards job seekers for a while, and that trend is expected to accelerate this year, Sinclair told Revive My Career.

High Demand

In the United States, 33 percent of vacancies remain open for at least three months, according to a November 2014 Indeed report.

“We’re seeing pressure build on companies to find the right talent to fill those positions,” Indeed spokesman Paul D’Arcy told Revive My Career.

One area with high demand for workers: STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields. These positions have very specialized, technical skill sets, D’Arcy said. These include jobs like aerospace engineers, microbiologists and statisticians.

In many major markets, employers are also seeking talented salespeople to help their companies grow, according to D’Arcy.

As the economy improves, truck drivers are also in demand, D’Arcy said. These positions require training and a specialized license. Meanwhile, many truck drivers are retiring – creating a major void for the trucking industry.

Indeed also has examined how various industries are faring. Those having an especially tough time filling jobs are hospitality, education and manufacturing, according to D’Arcy. One challenge is competition for talent with other industries. For instance, school districts compete with other industries for IT workers, and school districts might lack the resources to attract the top candidates, D’Arcy observed.

Faced with these issues, employers generally are becoming more open to training people for these jobs, he added.

Trends Among Generations

Researchers also have studied job-search trends among different generations – and what those trends may indicate about the supply of workers in future years.

Three generations each make up about one-third of the U.S. workforce, according to an Indeed report released last month. They are:

  • Millennials, ages 21 to 30
  • Gen Xers, ages 31 to 50
  • Baby Boomers, ages 51 to 70

Although there are some subtle differences, the three generations are surprisingly similar in many ways, according to Sinclair.

One key finding is that each generation searches in occupations and locations with many job openings. Nevertheless, Baby Boomers are most responsive to the number of job vacancies, followed by Gen Xers, and then by Millennials. This indicates that as people age, they become “more attuned to the labor market” and make their career decisions accordingly, according to the report.

In addition, the research shows that mobile technology appeals to all three generations. Although Millennials and Gen Xers are more likely to use mobile for job searches, even Baby Boomers are using mobile a lot, Sinclair said. The report shows that 48 percent of Baby Boomers’ clicks on the Indeed website are from mobile devices – compared to 73 percent for Millennials, and 71 percent for Gen Xers.

But the research also shows some worrisome trends. Based on the findings, talent shortages are likely to get worse in certain occupations, Sinclair said.

One key area of concern: healthcare practitioners and technical occupations. This category includes surgeons, dentists, registered nurses, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, and a wide variety of other jobs.

Among each generation, interest in this category isn’t keeping up with employer demand, the Indeed research shows. And the findings show that Millennials have especially low interest.

One job title in this category, registered nurse, is in the top 10 search terms for Gen Xers and Baby Boomers. But no job titles from this area are in the top search terms for Millennials. Despite the fact that Millennials generally are tech savvy and educated, the research shows they’re not drawn to the highly skilled jobs in this category.

Registered-nurse jobs are expected to grow 19 percent between 2012 and 2022, so it’s “particularly disconcerting that there is such low interest in these positions from Millennials,” the Indeed report states. “Employers expecting to hire RNs in the coming years may want to join together with nursing training programs to create new supply pipelines.”

Meanwhile, Sinclair also emphasized the shortage of truck drivers. She noted that blue-collar jobs tend to appeal more to Baby Boomers, while white-collar jobs generally hold more appeal for Millennials.

The demands of long-haul driving can be a tough sell for Millennials, Sinclair added. They may be considering settling down to have a family, and for that reason, they dislike the idea of frequently driving across the country.

On its website, the trade group American Trucking Associations (ATA) acknowledges that one factor contributing to the shortage is that “drivers are away from home for a period of time.”

The trucking industry will need to develop better ways to draw Millennials to the job, Sinclair said. One strategy is to market the job as an exciting way to travel the country. The industry also may need to raise wages and offer more flexible working hours.

So what exactly does interest Millennials? One category they’re drawn to is community and social services, which includes jobs like family therapists and healthcare social workers. The Indeed report states that Millennials search in this job category more than older generations do, “perhaps revealing their desire to derive greater meaning from their jobs.”

The research findings provide takeaways for each generation, according to Sinclair. Among her insights:

  • For Millennials, it makes sense to consider areas which currently have talent shortages, and which are projected to have even worse shortages in the future. “Maybe one of those areas is perfect for you,” Sinclair said.
  • With respect to Gen Xers, “this is really a great time for them to take on leadership roles,” she added. Gen Xers have a special connection to both the older and younger generations, and that link is helpful for management roles, Sinclair said. The report shows that Gen Xers are similar to Millennials in certain respects, such as use of mobile devices, and similar to Baby Boomers in other ways, like clicks to management jobs. As noted in the report, members of Generation X have been “honing their leadership and tech skills, making them great candidates for the senior-level roles that Baby Boomers will soon retire from.”
  • Sinclair said that many Baby Boomers are keeping up with the latest technology, including mobile devices – and she encourages those who haven’t to develop their tech skills. Another lesson for Baby Boomers: consider pursuing your “dream career,” whatever that may be. With the economy steadily improving, think about which career path would be most satisfying. It might even be something as simple as switching from full-time to part-time work. Many employers have become more open to those types of requests, Sinclair noted.

Overall, employers need to figure out how to attract and retain the best talent from each generation, Sinclair emphasized. Key strategies should include workplace flexibility and higher wages, she said. If they’re able to bring those candidates aboard, employers should develop their strengths through in-house training.

And all of this would be great news for job seekers.

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