Job Seekers  Meet With Recruiters At Job Fair
A job seeker shakes hands with a recruiter during a job fair in San Francisco. Photograph by Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

Most employed job seekers want to change careers

Aug 05, 2014

As the economy keeps generating jobs (even if many aren’t full-time or high-paying), people who stayed put during the recession are more confident that they can move on to greener pastures. That’s not surprising, but here’s what is: 86% of job seekers who are already employed are looking for work outside their current occupations.

“People are going after really different kinds of jobs, often totally different from the work they’re doing now,” notes Tara Sinclair, economist at job site’s research arm, Indeed Hiring Lab. She and her team analyzed the job hunting activity of more than 430,000 people in’s database.

“We expect to see that, as the economy improves, more job hunters will try to move into something that’s closer to their ‘dream job,’” she says. “They’re exploring really different kinds of careers.”

About 60% of those Sinclair studied are looking outside their current occupation without considering jobs in their current fields at all. Some will move if they have to. About 28% of employed job hunters are actively trying to find work in a different state, according to a separate study. Just over one-quarter may not sound like a lot, but it’s more than twice as many compared to what it was in 2012 and 2013, when what economists call “realized mobility”—people moving to take jobs—stood at a post-World-War-Two low of just 12%.

So, what can employers do to hold on to key employees who might be getting restless? A raise or a bonus might help.

“As a rule, our research showed that people who are already in highly paid occupations want to stay in their current fields,” Sinclair says—but they care a lot about pay. “Money isn’t usually what attracts people to a job, according to our findings, but it can be very useful for retention.”

Indeed’s research also shows that employers who aren’t offering flexible work schedules may want to consider it. “Highly skilled employees, such as in tech and mathematics, are especially interested in flexibility,” Sinclair says. “Even those who are employed full-time right now are searching our site for part-time jobs, and for companies that allow flexible arrangements like job-sharing.”

Companies big enough to have operations in several places around the country, or the world, might also think about offering star employees the chance to move. “Mobility within the same organization, either to a different functional area or a different location or both, could be a real win-win,” notes Sinclair.

According to Indeed's study, Texas is attracting the most out-of-state job applicants, with California and Florida close behind. The three places most job seekers are looking to leave: Washington, D.C., Wyoming, and West Virginia.

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