New Hire Joins Company for More Money

5 Ways the Hiring Climate Has Changed Since the Pandemic

Hot job market puts new hires in the driver’s seat, according to new ZipRecruiter survey of 2,000+ Americans hired in the last 6 months

Two years after the start of the pandemic, U.S. job seekers continue to confront a highly abnormal job market—the greatest job seekers’ market of all time. As reported earlier this week in The Wall Street Journal, a new ZipRecruiter survey* of 2,064 U.S. residents who started their jobs within the last 6 months highlights some of the key ways in which recently hired workers differ from those hired in the 50+ years prior.

1. Signing bonuses have become ubiquitous 

  • 22% of recent hires say they were paid a signing bonus. Among first-time hires, that share climbs to 33%. Also known as hiring bonuses or sign-on bonuses, these kinds of bonuses were rare before the pandemic, when they were typically used to recruit top talent into senior roles. In 2000, for example, only 4% of private sector workers said they had received one, according to data (PDF) from the U.S. Department of Labor. Before the pandemic, about 2-3% of job postings on ZipRecruiter explicitly offered signing bonuses, but that share exceeded 12% in 2021.

2. Businesses are relying far more heavily on proactive outbound recruiting

  • 37% of recent hires said they were recruited to their current job. Outbound recruiting tends to play a fairly limited role in normal times, when most companies can get applications by simply by posting jobs online and waiting for candidates to apply. But it becomes more widespread during labor shortages. For example, the percentage of all workers hired through recruiting increased from 4% in 1991 to almost 18% in 2020 as the labor market grew tighter, according to recent academic research. Our survey suggests that the experience of being recruited has become even more widespread recently. Instead of having to search for jobs, more than 1 in 3 recently hired Americans surveyed have had jobs come searching for them.

3. Businesses are offering new hires greater flexibility 

  • 41% of recent job switchers gained greater schedule flexibility and 14% gained the ability to work remotely through their job move. Only 2–4% of job postings on ZipRecruiter offered remote opportunities before the pandemic, but that share shot up in 2020, and remains elevated today. These remote opportunities have proven highly attractive to job seekers, with about 62% saying they would prefer remote work. Traditional onsite employers have had to compete by offering greater schedule flexibility. The overall result has been a shift among job switchers from more rigid positions to more flexible opportunities. About half (50.7%) of recent hires say they worked out of a physical workplace every day in their old role. Only 30% say that is true in their new role.  

4. Job switchers are securing large pay increases 

  • 64% of recent hires who were previously employed say they got a pay raise through switching jobs. Among those, 48% say they got a raise of 11% or more, and 31% say they got a raise of 6-10%. However, fewer than half (just 44%) of job switchers identified wanting more pay as a key motivation for switching jobs. Some were motivated by push factors (notably, 31% cited poor management, and 26% cited too much stress), whereas others were motivated by pull factors including, but not limited to, pay (with 23% citing better benefits, and 13% better promotion opportunities, among others).

5. New hires are on the move 

  • More than one in two recent hires plan to look for another job within two years. 21% of recent hires say they plan to look for their next job in less than a year, and 30% say they plan to look in 1-2 years. That’s despite the fact that 91% of recent hires overall are glad they took their current job and 81% are satisfied or very satisfied with their current job. There is suggestive evidence that more attractive pay increases are effective retention tools, and that signing bonuses may have retention benefits too. Recent hires who got a pay increase are 86% more likely than those who got a pay decrease to say they plan to stay in their current job for 5+ years, and those who got a signing bonus are 19% more likely than those who did not to say so.

* Survey of 2,064 U.S. residents who are currently employed and started their current jobs within the last 6 months, conducted for ZipRecruiter by Qualtrics and fielded between Feb. 9 and Feb 28, 2022 to a nationally representative online panel.

Written by

Julia Pollak is Chief Economist at ZipRecruiter. She leads ZipRecruiter's economic research team, which provides insights and analysis on current labor market trends and the future of work.

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