If you didn’t love the job you had before the pandemic started, the last year may have been especially rough. Many people describe their experience at work over the last year as “white knuckles”: feeling high stress and high anxiety about work while also feeling like there are few options to make things better.
If you felt this way, you’re not alone: several studies indicate that anywhere from 25% to over 50% of employees plan to quit their jobs and look for new ones after the pandemic. Earlier this month, Quartz reported that the US economy is experiencing the highest rate of workers quitting their jobs that we’ve seen in the last 20 years.
If you’ve been thinking about starting a job hunt, get excited. These are the four most important signs that right now is the perfect time for you to start looking for your next opportunity.
When the pandemic started, unemployment rates skyrocketed and entire industries shut down. The future felt incredibly uncertain and unsafe.
However, the advent of the vaccine in 2021 has changed the job growth forecast positively. Forbes wrote that the job market has gone from “doom and gloom to boom.”
Hiring rates doubled from April to May in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. States have reopened and almost completely loosened their restrictions, people are anxious to be back to living “normal” life, and consumer demand has been the biggest driver of economic growth in 2021, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The unemployment rate has continued to fall since the height of the pandemic last year, and unemployment is at the lowest level across the country that it’s been since February 2020. Every indicator shows that the job market and the economy are returning toward their normal, healthy states, meaning that the risks of job searching are lower than they’ve been in over a year.
Every news outlet is writing about a huge wave of turnover starting right now. SHRM calls it the “turnover tsunami,” and the Wall Street Journal documented the phenomenon of employees preferring to quit their jobs instead of staying with inflexible or unsympathetic employers. One study found that 87% of professionals who worked remotely during the pandemic want to continue working remotely at least one day a week.
Employers understand that talented employees have new demands for flexibility, and 75% of employers plan to shift toward more flexible or remote work post-pandemic to meet those demands.
Even some of the most established employers like Google with strong biases towards developing their company culture through “in office” interactions will offer hybrid options like the 3-2 schedule (3 days in office, 2 days remote) to take better care of their employees. It’s not just hybrid work situations that are becoming more common: Gartner’s polling says that 1 in 5 employees will be able to work full-time remotely moving forward.
If your current employer isn’t offering sufficient flexibility for your lifestyle, now is absolutely the time to start looking for something new.
The National Women's Law Center reported that the women’s labor force participation rate is only 56.2%, the lowest it’s been in more than three decades. FlexJobs reports that 40% of working parents have had to reduce their hours or quit their jobs entirely because of the pandemic and how it affected their childcare options and responsibilities.
Employers know the value of a diverse workforce and want to bring more women back into their teams. They also know that offering flexibility is a great way to get women back. The combination of strong economic recovery plus loads of employers switching to more remote-friendly work means that many Fairygodboss readers will be great candidates for open roles.
When the pandemic began, many of us felt like we had to jump into “superhero” mode at work to earn our keep. If we didn’t start overperforming and overgiving, it felt like we might be the next ones to be furloughed or laid off completely.
As the pandemic played out, it became clear that different industries and companies were affected asymmetrically. While we might have believed that our company was in dire straits, the organization might have actually been doing just fine.
However, that didn’t stop most of us from continuing to overwork. Because so many of us worked from home and had few boundaries between work and life, we ended up working between 1 and 3 additional hours every single workday. Our surge capacity has been depleted in the last year and a half. If your company hasn’t been working with you to get back to reasonable and sustainable working hours, it’s time to move on. Your mental and physical health are both endangered when you stay at a job that’s causing burnout or dissatisfaction for too long.
It’s great news that the job market and economy are making a strong recovery and setting the stage for you to have lots of opportunities and options. Remember: life is too short to do work that doesn’t light you up.
This article was written by an FGB Contributor.
Lisa Lewis Miller is an internationally recognized career change coach, author, and founder of Career Clarity. Her new book, Career Clarity, talks about the four core drivers of fulfillment and satisfaction in your work, no matter what you do right now (or want to do next).
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