2022 Outlook: Trends and Predictions for Job Seekers

Updated March 3, 2023

The coronavirus pandemic has led many to reassess what matters most to them. We spend nearly a third of our lives working, so it’s no surprise that many have reconsidered their current work situation and have joined the movement that many are calling the Great Resignation. The health crisis has fundamentally changed the definition of what a good job entails. As a result, employees are more in control of their job prospects than ever and are more likely to wait until they find the right fit for them, whether the position offers better compensation, more schedule flexibility or the ability to work from home.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the labor force participation rate—the share of Americans that are either working or looking for work—has been slow to recover, remaining mostly stagnant since June 2020. Indeed economist Nick Bunker says concerns about the pandemic itself have held back many job seekers, as well as child care responsibilities in the face of fluctuating COVID-19 disruptions at schools.

In this article, we used Indeed data to evaluate work trends and share six predictions of what job seekers should expect in 2022.

1. Job seekers will raise their employment standards

The pandemic offered new opportunities for many people to reflect on what’s most important to them. In a recent Indeed survey¹ of people who had switched jobs at least twice since the onset of the pandemic, 92% said the pandemic made them realize life is too short to stay in a job they weren’t passionate about. 

Indeed’s survey results indicate that workers are less likely to settle for jobs that don’t meet their standards and are willing to move onto another job that better suits their needs. Nearly three-quarters of those survey respondents made their first job switch knowing it would be temporary, while they continued to seek the right permanent fit. 

Three-quarters of employees surveyed noted that the labor shortage presented them with new career opportunities they would not have had otherwise, encouraging them to switch jobs. Many surveyed workers (82%) attribute this to the rise of remote work, which they felt opened doors to jobs they might otherwise have not been able to pursue.

It’s clear the pandemic has shifted priorities for many, and employees are less likely to stay in jobs they aren’t satisfied with. The labor shortage and remote work has opened up new opportunities for workers, and 85% of job seekers are looking for a big change and are checking out opportunities outside of their current field. 

Related: The Great Realization: Why Happiness at Work Is Possible

2. Job seekers and employees will have the upper hand when it comes to salary negotiation—for now

Early 2022 data shows a continuing trend of the 2021 inclination to seek higher-wage, remote work rather than in-person industry sectors that tend to pay less like child care or food preparation and service. 

Because shifting to remote work is rarely possible, Indeed economist AnnElizabeth Konkel says, “These employers have only one major lever: raising wages.” 

Our survey results show that even in the throes of an economic shutdown, 87% of workers were compensated the same or more at their first new job. In fact, half of job switchers Indeed surveyed received an increase, and those that did received an average salary increase of 52%. Median advertised hourly wages strongly correlate with rising job seeker interest. 

While only 24% 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 an average of 38% 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? Nearly half (49%) noted they were looking for higher compensation.¹

Higher turnover rates beget higher wages

The federal Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) report released Feb. 1 indicates that layoffs hit a new all-time low in December (1.2 million workers, or 0.8% of all workers), and the voluntary quits rate ended the year at 2.9% (4.3 million workers)—near its all-time high of 3% reached in November. This job-switching boom has resulted in wages growing at a rate the U.S. labor market hasn’t seen in over 10 years. 

“Anyone who wants to understand where wage growth is headed should keep an eye on the quits rate,” says Bunker.

You can use Indeed’s salary calculator to determine your current take-home pay and get a personalized report about the average pay range for your job. Use this information to compare your earnings with others’ or negotiate a raise or job offer.

Time Worked
Starting Pay
Computed Pay
30.00 dollars hourly, including un-paid time, is 62400.00 dollars yearly, including un-paid time.

Related: How To Calculate Take-Home Pay

3. Remote work is here to stay

While the onset of the pandemic triggered a surge in remote work, data shows that the easing of mobility restrictions after the vaccine rollout has not led to major declines in remote postings, suggesting remote work is here to stay. It’s important to note that only 37% of jobs in the U.S. can be performed entirely at home, in industries like marketing, IT operations and insurance.

When asked for the factors that contributed to their decision to leave their current jobs, workers reported remote work as one of the biggest reasons. Indeed survey data says that 45% of respondents reported that they switched jobs because their employers did not offer flexibility on remote work.¹

Interest in most in-person occupations–personal care and home health, manufacturing, and loading and stocking–remains down. Interest in manufacturing is down nearly 25%, and loading and stocking interest is down by 33%, as of Jan. 21.

While employer demand for workers is well above pre-pandemic levels, there’s yet to be a flood of job seekers to fill open positions. The Relative Job Seeker Interest metric captures what jobs workers are currently looking at by tracking changes in job seeker interest in an occupational sector since the beginning of the pandemic compared with the average job. 

During the fall, job seeker interest, relative to the national average, shifted toward job postings with higher advertised wages and that were more likely to be remote. For occupational sectors seeing below-average interest, employers may struggle to find the workers and may need to consider wage increases, hiring incentives or additional benefits to attract jobseekers.  

Read more: Will Remote Work Persist after the Pandemic?

4. Job seekers will want more flexible working options

The pandemic has forced employees to learn to adapt, and now they want their workplaces to do the same for them. Wanting a more flexible work schedule was among the top reasons Indeed’s survey respondents first decided to switch jobs during—and indeed as a result of—the pandemic. 

For example, although most schools and daycares have long since reopened, they often have to adjust and temporarily close in response to surges in coronavirus cases in their community. Lately, the more transmissible Omicron variant of the virus has led to more positive cases, which means more kids have to stay home, and thus, more parents need flexible working schedules or have to scramble to find last-minute care if they don’t work from home.

40% of survey respondents said their companies would not accommodate their need to stay at home with their children and/or dependent family members after schools and care facilities were shut down, and 34% of workers reported their employers did not offer flexibility on working hours.¹

Related: What Is Flex Working and Why Is It Beneficial to Your Company?

5. Key industries will boom

As of Jan. 21, new Indeed job postings in all occupational sectors are, on average, 67.2% above the levels they were prior to the pandemic. 

Job Postings on Indeed

Here are some industries to watch, according to Indeed economists:

  • Human resources: Job postings in human resources have increased 128.5% since pre-pandemic times. As companies are simultaneously hiring en masse and battling the Great Resignation, it’s only natural that they would invest in the department responsible for developing their recruitment and retention strategies. Human resources jobs include recruiting coordinators and onboarding specialists.

  • Software development: Postings for software development jobs have increased 125.1% since Feb. 1, 2020. These kinds of jobs are often remote and pay well, with average salaries ranging from $85,569-$131,842 per year. Jobs in the software development industry include software developers and software engineers.

  • Logistics support: Job postings in logistics support have jumped 108.6% since before the pandemic. The logistics and transportation industry ensures that goods effectively reach consumers through transportation modes like freight rail and truck transport. Supply chain issues will likely continue into 2022, and companies are looking for workers who know how to help. The logistics subsector includes jobs like logistics coordinators, supply chain specialists and transportation managers.

  • Production and manufacturing: Despite a 101.6% increase in job postings, employment in the production and manufacturing sector is still below where it was before the pandemic: the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that manufacturing companies employ 219,000 fewer people today than it did in February 2020. This suggests that employers are eager to make up for lost time. Jobs in this industry include quality control managers, assembly operators and manufacturing engineers.

6. More employees will return to in-person workplaces, but it won’t be “typical”

COVID-19 safety guidelines are a part of normal life now. For workplaces, this translates into guidelines that promote required masking for employees and/or customers, social distancing, increased cleaning and disinfecting and other policies that aim to protect employees, customers and businesses alike. A little over one-third (34%) of the pandemic job switchers Indeed surveyed said they left their job after the onset of the pandemic because their positions made it difficult or impossible to follow COVID-19 safety protocols.¹

Following legal challenges, large employers are no longer required to mandate their workers be vaccinated or regularly tested for COVID-19. But some employers and occupations are still subject to state and local laws that either require or ban vaccine mandates.

Outside of government mandates, many private employers are still choosing their own path forward, even if it means limiting their talent pool. Survey results show that 30% of pandemic job switchers said they switched jobs a second time since March 2020 because their employer imposed a vaccine mandate.¹ On the flip side, one-sixth of pandemic job switchers resigned because their employers wouldn’t impose a vaccine mandate. 

The rise of hybrid offices

In terms of jobs that are typically done in an office, hybrid workplaces may become the new norm, allowing employees to benefit from both at-home and in-person working. The hybrid workplace model usually lets workers decide when to work at the office or at home, encouraging a sense of autonomy that can improve employee satisfaction.

Before the onset of the pandemic, the concept of company culture often relied on in-person interactions with coworkers like happy hours or impromptu conversations and office perks and benefits such as on-site gyms or free food and coffee. Companies who decide to go the hybrid route may need to shift their focus from office amenities to how to make virtual work and online communication better for their employees.

Related: The Future of Work During and After COVID-19

Tips for job searching in 2022

Job searching itself can be a full-time job. Here are a few steps you can take to set yourself up for success and find the best opportunities for you this year:

1. Set tangible goals for your job search

Goals can help you make more informed decisions and increase your motivation. Write down SMART goals—goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound—that set specific steps and deadlines so you can measure your success. It should be challenging but realistic to help keep your confidence high when facing job search rejection. For example: “I will apply to two new job openings every week” or “I will make a connection with one new person in my industry this week.” Track your progress to stay motivated.

Read more: The Essential Job Search Guide

2. Consider how to best showcase your recent accomplishments 

The world of work has evolved since pre-pandemic times. Refresh your resume and cover letters to reflect that by highlighting specific accomplishments to demonstrate the scope and impact of your work in 2021. If you are attempting to shift to a different field—for example, you have experience as a server in restaurants but you’d like to pivot to an industry with more growth in 2022, such as human resources—highlight your transferable skills or add a summary section to your resume to reframe your career path to fit. Include context in your cover letter. For example, if the pandemic led you to leave your industry, describing your decision can justify why your experience might be valuable to the hiring manager.

Read more: 3 Simple Resume Updates To Help You Get More Interviews

3. Find the right jobs for you

As you search for work in 2022, reflect on what’s prompted you to look for a new job in the first place. Do you want to keep doing the same type of work for a new employer, or are you looking to switch to a growth industry? Follow these steps to narrow down your search:

  • Create a target list of companies you want to work for and a list of jobs you think you’d be a good fit for.

  • Determine your must-haves like salary, flexibility and health benefits. Use Indeed’s salary trends tool or peruse Indeed Company Pages to read reviews and feedback from others.

  • Set up job alerts to get email updates about new jobs that fit the criteria you’ve outlined above. You can create multiple job alerts for different keywords, and have them sent to you either daily or weekly.

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.

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