Insights Blog

What’s Motivating Career Changes Right Now?

December 16, 2021

What’s motivating career changes right now?

2021 has been a banner year for hiring, and it’s driven a lot of movement throughout the labor market. Pre-pandemic, the highest number of US job openings ever was 7.5M in Jan 2019, and averaged about 4.5M over the last 20 years. Today there are 11M jobs open, with the unemployment rate close to its lowest at 4.2%.

This record number of openings, combined with a low unemployment rate, has come together to put prospective EMPLOYEES in the driver’s seat now more than ever. And employers are feeling the pressure: interview processes are being accelerated, offers are increasing, and hybrid employment models are proliferating — all to ensure that candidates don’t choose another employer instead.

It’s an amazing moment when workers’ values, ambitions, and desires finally matter! Wow!

With this in mind, we recently polled 546 prospective employees about the most important factor in their next employment decision, and here’s what they told us:


39% said compensation was the most important factor.

This is up from 29% when we polled 3 years ago because candidates are aware they have more leverage than before.


29% said growth opportunities.

This is a huge opportunity for prospective employers. If you build stronger pipelines for growth and more clear programs for learning, development, and promotion you will have an edge with almost a 3rd of the candidate pool.


17% said improved work culture.

Candidates are looking for leaders who foster a positive work environment, are willing to listen to new ideas, and are building and maintaining a diverse workforce.


15% said increased schedule flexibility.

Surprisingly low considering the time we are in, but I expect this number to increase in the next 12 months when offices move back to more in-person work. Most people we speak with are looking for hybrid schedules.


Some things are very clear: wages and job flexibility are increasing. But I think the harder work of evolving culture and building more growth opportunities is largely still to be done.

About the contributor
William Brobston

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