Survey: 92% of COVID Job Switchers Seek More Fulfilling Jobs

By Jamie Birt

Updated August 9, 2022 | Published November 23, 2021

Updated August 9, 2022

Published November 23, 2021

Jamie Birt is a career coach with 5+ years of experience helping job seekers navigate the job search through one-to-one coaching, webinars and events. She’s motivated by the mission to help people find fulfillment and belonging in their careers.

Related: What The Great Resignation Means for Your Job Search

Learn more about the Great Resignation, how it’s affecting the job market and how job seekers can use this market trend to their advantage.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought on high levels of upheaval and introspection, causing people to reevaluate their priorities. In a new Indeed survey¹ of 1,005 people who voluntarily resigned from at least two jobs since March 2020, 92% said the pandemic made them feel life is too short to stay in a job they weren’t passionate about. Hence, “The Great Resignation” is the name given to the movement of millions of workers who resigned from their jobs in recent months.

However, for some, the Great Resignation wasn’t a one-time thing. In this article, we discuss what our survey revealed about people’s motivations to switch jobs, as well as tips you can use to find a more fulfilling role.

Related: How To Find Your Passion for a More Fulfilling Career

Report: What motivates workers to switch jobs?

Our survey results strongly suggest that once COVID-19 emerged, people were eager to leave their current jobs, which they had been in for at least one year. Within three months of the onset of the pandemic, 60% of people surveyed left their pre-pandemic jobs. Furthermore, nearly three-quarters of job switchers stated they took their new jobs knowing they were temporary while they continued to seek the right, permanent fit. When asked what factors contributed to their decision to leave their current jobs, workers reported flexibility in working hours and remote work as the biggest reasons.

Below, we dive deeper into these job switchers’ motivations and some of the unexpected benefits of changing jobs during COVID-19.

Flexibility in working hours and remote work

From the closure of restaurants, office buildings, schools and daycares to new social distancing and vaccine requirements, workers around the world felt the ripple effects caused by the pandemic. This left employers and employees navigating uncharted waters. Below are the top reasons people first decided to switch jobs during, and indeed as a result of, the pandemic:

  • Remote work. 45% of those surveyed reported that their employers did not offer flexibility in remote work.

  • Flexibility for parents and caregivers. 40% of respondents said their companies would not accommodate their need to stay at home with their children and/or dependent family members after school and/or care facility shutdowns.

  • Schedule. 34% of workers reported their employers did not offer flexibility on working hours.

  • Safety. 34% of those surveyed said their positions made it difficult or impossible to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines.

While these responses help to explain why job switchers initially resigned, it’s interesting to compare these reasons to the top motivators for switching jobs again later in the pandemic. While 31% of respondents still reported flexibility around remote work being a top motivator, wanting a job with higher pay jumped to the highest-ranked reason at 36% and employers imposing a vaccine mandate came as the third-highest reason at 30%. On the flip side, one-sixth of respondents left because their employers wouldn’t impose a vaccine mandate.

While the majority of respondents have thought about quitting their current job (their second new position within 18 months), 40% say they haven’t considered another switch. Good work-life balance (56%), flexibility in remote work (46%) and a positive working environment (43%) are the top three reasons employees are staying in their new roles after cycling through at least two jobs throughout the pandemic.

Related: Half of U.S. Working Parents Are at Their Breaking Point as COVID-19 Variants Spread

Salary increases, especially in their second new role

Our survey results show that even in the throes of an economic shutdown, skilled workers were compensated the same or more at their first new job. Half of job switchers received an increase, and those that did received an average salary increase of 52%.

While only 23% of job switchers reported wanting a job with better pay as a reason they left their pre-pandemic job, wanting more money became the top reason they decided to leave the first job they took after quitting their pre-pandemic job. On average, job switchers left their first job after five months, and nearly half (48%) found a new job that paid even more.

These survey results suggest that while flexibility and remote work drove initial pandemic job switches, the opportunity to make more money quickly became the top motivator to continue the job search. In fact, 60% of our respondents said they are still actively looking for a new job even after cycling through at least two new jobs in the last 19 months. Their top motivator—higher compensation (49%).

Related: How To Negotiate Your Salary During COVID-19

New opportunities to pursue professional passions

For many people, the pandemic provided time to reflect on what’s important to them and what they value. 92% of survey respondents shared that the pandemic made them feel life is too short to stay in a job they weren’t passionate about. The job switchers we surveyed have an optimistic view of the opportunities available to them in this new economic landscape:

  • 82% communicated that the rise of remote work made them feel less constrained when it comes to jobs they can pursue.

  • 76% of employees surveyed noted that the labor shortage offered new career opportunities that they would not have had otherwise.

  • 85% of job seekers are looking at work outside their current industry, and of those job seekers, 97% cite the pandemic as the reason they decided to change career paths.

Read more: The Complete Guide To Changing Careers During COVID-19 (With Tips From a Recruiter)

How to find a fulfilling role

Finding a role that aligns with your passion, motivations and salary expectations is possible. Here are a few tips on how to navigate your search for a fulfilling role during, and even after, the pandemic.

1. Define what you value

What you value in your role is subjective and is likely to change throughout your career. This is why it’s essential to check in with yourself often and take stock of what’s important to you in your professional life. Examples of values and work motivators include:

  • Purpose

  • Compensation

  • Inclusion

  • Flexibility

  • Manager support

  • Transparency

  • Development

  • Work-life balance

There are a few strategies that can help you define what you value in the workplace. Consider taking mental notes of your favorite parts of your current workday. On the flip side, noting what causes added stress for you in the workplace can also empower you to recognize what you value. For example, if you find yourself feeling frustrated with a lack of direction or focus in your company, having a job that provides purpose and structure may be more important to you.

You might consider using Indeed’s Well-Being at Work Happiness Guide, which includes worksheets and exercises designed to help you define what’s important in your career.

Read more: Defining Your Values To Find Work Happiness

2. Research companies

Once you’ve defined your values, you can start researching companies that align with you. When it comes to company research, you want to go beyond just looking at the company website. Consider looking at a company's social media accounts, what they’ve made headlines for in the news and what employees have to say about working there. Indeed Company Pages provides reviews from past and current employees on everything from work-life balance to compensation.

Read more: The Complete Guide To Researching a Company

3. Ask the right questions

When the time comes to interview with a prospective employer, come prepared with questions. Asking the right questions is essential to determining if a company is a good fit for a long-lasting, fulfilling role. Consider the examples below when crafting the questions you’ll bring to your interview:

  • If you value development: “Does your company offer frequent opportunities for continued training and development?”

  • If you value inclusion: “How do you promote inclusivity amongst your teams?”

  • If you value feedback: “Can you describe the formal and informal ways my performance is reviewed and feedback is communicated?”

  • If you value teamwork: “Can you tell me about a recent collaborative achievement from the team I would be working with?”

Take notice of the interviewer's nonverbal gestures, facial expressions and comfortability when answering your questions. It may be worth noting if they don’t have detailed answers, seem uncomfortable or have closed-off body language, such as their arms crossed over their chest.

Read more: 54 Great Questions To Ask During an Interview

4. Keep looking and learning

Even when taking all the aforementioned steps you may still find yourself feeling unfulfilled in your position. Or, you may feel fulfilled in the beginning but eventually outgrow the position. Taking on new opportunities will help you grow regardless of whether it’s the perfect fit. Finding your passion and a fulfilling career is an evolving process and to feel satisfied you should continually evaluate if your career, role, industry, etc. make you happy.

¹ Indeed-commissioned survey, conducted by Kickstand Communications, where n=1,005 people who live and work full time in the United States and have voluntarily resigned from at least two different jobs since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. They had also worked for at least one year at their pre-pandemic job.

Explore more articles