Unusual Job-seeking Behaviour

Since March 2020, the pandemic has significantly changed the job market and the way people would ordinarily think about changing jobs. Before the pandemic, people would seriously consider promotion opportunities when they were available, even though the promotion itself may require longer hours, harder work and more stress. Likewise, job-seekers before the pandemic also had less hesitance in changing companies if it meant that they would have career development and gain a better salary. They would make this leap of faith despite the uncertainty; not knowing what you're getting yourself into. These 'normal' behaviours were curved when the pandemic hit. 

Job-seekers became more conservative in their plans and adopted a mindset "I'd rather not take the risk of changing jobs". This reflected the old adage that "sometimes it is better to deal with the devil you know", and that sort of mentality was reflected in the job market. When the number of job openings started climbing again from a slump in December 2020, the Australian job market was seeing a record low in candidate applications. Jobs which would ordinarily have hundreds of applications within 30 days received staggeringly low applications....as low as 30 applications per job advertisement. This spoke to the degree of uncertainty people were facing and people were more willing to stay with companies they had an established relationship with, rather than taking a risk during a pandemic. 

These low application rates were also reflective of the impact the Job-Seeker payment packages provided by the government had at the time. For an applicant to maintain their government payments, they just had to demonstrate that they were actively trying to apply and secure employment. The negative consequence of this payment criteria is that a lot of employers were facing disingenuous job applications. Some applicants would go to the extent of organising a face to face interview and then not bothering to turn up. Applicants would go completely radio silent which wasted employer's time trying to fill vacancies and stopped genuine applications from being seriously considered. The reason for this...well, simple. Job-seeker beneficiaries would show email correspondence to human services (Centrelink) of the locked-in interviews as evidence of their "job-seeking efforts". Even though they did not show up, the government was none the wiser and they continued to receive their payments. This is another reason why job-seeking behaviours has been very different over the past 18 months. 

The final point I would like to make is that people and employers alike are starting to realise the importance of mental health. The stress the pandemic, lock-down and COVID restrictions have placed financially and emotionally on businesses and people have been astronomical. Certainty in working circumstances no longer exists. Taking all of this into account, employees now expect businesses to be supportive of their employee's mental health. Employers that don't make accommodations or demonstrate that they truly care for their employees will have higher turn-over rates in the near future. Employees want to work for employers which will give this level of certainty and demonstrate in their actions that the mental wellbeing of their employee's matter. In 2021, we are seeing job-seekers starting to become more confident in changing jobs and making those leaps of faith, as their tolerance for nonchalant employers has diminished. 

Would you work for an employer which does not support your mental health and wellbeing? Would this be a deal-breaker for you to take a leap of faith and change jobs? Leave your comments below. 

- Melissa 

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