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What’s changed about job search behaviour?

We’ve spoken a lot about how the job market has changed in terms of vacancies and salaries and what’s available for jobseekers. However, there is a whole other side to explore – what the jobseekers themselves are looking for, and how that has changed since coronavirus.

There are plenty of expected changes – a spike in searches for drivers, remote working, and online jobs among them. But also certain terms that suggest something more unusual is going on. Jobseekers don’t always know what’s out there, and can base their ideas on where they think there’s availability, based on what they read in the news, as opposed to what jobs actually exist. 

For this data, we took a look at searches since March 1st, and compared it to the same period leading up to that, which includes relative high traffic in January, and relatively low traffic in late December.

The Winning Job Types

With increased demand for home delivery, it’s understandable that searches for “delivery driver” have increased by 336%. The relative skill set to be a driver means that it can be done by a lot of people. Unfortunately, the number of driver jobs has not increased at the same rate as firms struggle to onboard more people.

Hospital jobs are also highly in-demand, both from a volunteer standpoint and more generally. Searches are up a whopping 1740% for volunteers, which is attributable to the fact that there weren’t many searches for such volunteers before there was a global pandemic and the feeling that the NHS needed all hands on deck. However hospital jobs had a much higher base, and they are still up 330%. 

One of the few job types that had a temporary increase in vacancies were cleaning jobs, and candidates seem to have anticipated that change, as the number of searches increased 54% since the crisis struck. The fall in demand for cleaners has created a fall in searches. 

Search terms with major positive changes (selected highlights)

Search Term% change in search volume since March 1st
Hospital Volunteer1640%
Farm Worker629%
Working From Home599%
Virtual Assistant378%
Immediate Start286%
Delivery Driver236%
Hospital Cleaning110%
Warehouse Operative43%

The Losers

With travel restrictions in place, it’s no surprise that jobs in airports are no longer in demand from jobseekers. Taking similar terms related to airports, including baggage handlers, the search volume has dropped 70%. Which is means that jobseekers are seeing the changes in travel jobs and reacting accordingly.

With pubs and bars shut, the number of searches for jobs working in those places has dried up, and jobseekers have twigged that. Job searches have fallen by 84% since before March. With no prospect of bars opening up and some turning themselves into shops with a skeleton staff, the demand for these jobs hasn’t picked up.

Retail jobs is an interesting case, as you might expect the average jobseeker to still apply for retail jobs with supermarkets and essential shops still open and still requiring staff. However while searches for individual supermarket brands such as Tesco and Asda have gone up significantly, generic searches for retail are down. This follows in step with what jobs are available as retail jobs have declined significantly.

Search terms with major negative changes (selected highlights)

Search Term% change in search volume since March 1st
Part Time-28.8%
Care Home-41.4%
Night Shift-47.5%
Airport Jobs-71.0%
Customer Services-76.9%
Jobs on Cruise Ships-94.1%
House Cleaner-94.4%
No Experience Required-99.3%

What about other search terms? 

With the world moving to working from home where possible, naturally job searches have followed, with a large increase in searches for “work from home”. Searches have gone up 69% as people look to avoid any jobs that take them outside the house. 

Similarly “Remote” jobs are up significantly at 930%. What will be interesting is whether the widely-predicted change in demand for remote working will come to pass when we enter a post-coronavirus world and things return to normality. On the basis of this, there is a demand for it, but will that be short-lived. 

Elsewhere “immediate start” has seen a significant increase of 285%, which suggests that jobseekers are more desperate for some work, any work during this tough time. But counter to that, the number of searches for “no experience required” has fallen by 91%, which suggests that the desperation isn’t so strong. Perhaps because there’s an expectation that employers may be advertising jobs that will hire post-lockdown – it’s hard to tell.

Woman taking the subway train in the city

What about search volumes

Under normal circumstances, a rapid increase in unemployment would surely suggest a corresponding increase in job searches as people scrabble to find new jobs from whatever is out there. However, the furlough scheme here in the UK has meant that many people who would be out of work have instead got an income and don’t need to search for a job, or can’t because of the temporary nature of furlough.

Therefore this explains why we saw a spike in job searches in March, up 35% from January, normally a peak in job activity. But this spike then diminished in April, falling 24% below January’s figures, and May’s volumes look to be even lower, just over halfway through the month. 

Change in search volume since January 2020 (normalised at 100)

All of which does throw the search terms that are going up into sharper relief as they are going against the grain. 

Clearly active jobseekers are switching from jobs that are no longer available to a range of jobs that appear to be available. Overall search volumes are down suggesting that people are more content to sit in furlough, but publicising key roles will do wonders for a smaller group of engaged jobseekers, so employers should keep that in mind and advertise widely.