Don’t Quit Your Day Job, Part 2

May 18, 2020 | Job Satisfaction, Job Search

Why Searching While Employed Often Yields Better Results

“The trouble with unemployment is that the minute you wake up in the morning you’re on the job.” Slappy White

“Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.” Henry David Thoreau

“Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.” John D. Rockefeller

“All progress takes place outside the comfort zone.” Michael John Bobak

Part II: The Facts & Figures … The Part You Can’t Control

In this two-part series of articles, we explore the important differences between employed and unemployed job seekers. Part 1 primarily focused on the psychological, behavioral and attitudinal differences between each group, and the impacts of those factors. In this second article, we take a hard look at the affects the market plays on job search outcomes. 

We believe that facts revealed in this article, based on reliable and diverse data, will reveal a common conclusion that aligns with “conventional wisdom”. That is: it is almost always easier, faster, and more effective to search while employed compared to unemployed. 

The evidence is both anecdotal, and statistical.  

Two articles, (1&2) authored by a team from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, report findings that suggest search results, (receiving offers) and the quality of offers (wages, benefits, etc.) were predictably better for those working while searching versus those who are unemployed. One set of statistics in particular stands out: 

“Unemployed workers make up about 7 percent of our sample. They send out 40 percent of the total applications in the sample, but receive only about 16 percent of the total offers. By comparison, those employed and actively looking for work make up about 20 percent of the sample, but receive almost half of all offers.”

Reevaluated, in a sample of about 2,800 job seekers, 20% of the sample group received 50% of the offers AND that group was those who were employed while searching. In other parts of the study, it was noted that the unemployed searchers typically had more time, and spent more time on search activities. So why did the employed have better results? Our conclusion is that, among other possible factors, there must be some market bias. Hiring managers and recruiters must be favoring, consciously or not, folks who already have jobs.

In another part of the study from the same team, statistics showed that 24.3% of employed searchers in the sample group received unsolicited offers, (those where they didn’t initiate contact) whereas only 14.2% of the unemployed in the sample group did. 37.7% of the employed negotiated after receiving the offers, while 27.4% of the unemployed did. Only 7.8% of the employed accepted an only offer, (meaning they did receive competing offers) whereas 25.7% of the employed accepted an only offer.

Notice a pattern here? We do. Those employed while searching, while facing the challenge of having less time, (and probably energy) statistically fared better in terms of receiving multiple offers and bargaining for better terms. There are numerous other sources that support these findings: (1, 2, and 3). 

Is being employed ALWAYS better on resume than being unemployed?

The answer is not necessarily. The National Bureau of Economic Research published a study by researchers from Princeton University, Arizona State University, and the University of California-Los Angeles who sent 12,000-plus fictitious resumes and applications to reply to actual 5,000 mid-level office and administrative job openings. All of the “applicants” had bachelor degrees, significant work histories and no gaps in their career. A high portion of the resumes that reflected someone who had taken a lower paying interim job, received significantly less callbacks. Would these same findings carry over to higher-level job seekers? We don’t know. This study seems to suggest that putting a low-paying interim, stopgap job on a resume could be damaging. In this case, the solution might be to leave the stopgap job off the resume. Of course, if the interim job is long-term, that might not be a viable solution.

On the flip side, we find the reporting and analysis from the Fed team to be rather convincing. Although searching while employed poses a unique set of challenges, more often than not the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages. 

So, if you can, don’t quit your day job! 

ECP will guide you through every step of your job search, employed or unemployed.

Interested in learning more?                                                                                    Contact ECP today to #GetHiredFaster