May 22, 2024

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Why White-Collar Workers Are Losing Out In The Job Market

4 min read
Why White-Collar Workers Are Losing Out In The Job Market

White-collar, college-educated professionals are having a harder time finding a new job and are facing greater job insecurity than blue-collar workers. Unlike during the Great Resignation, white-collar professionals are enduring long rounds of interviews, not receiving feedback, and finding it harder to secure a new opportunity, according to the Wall Street Journal.

In a recent job market survey by Professional Résumé Writers, nearly half of the workers self-reported that they were concerned about losing their employment, with executives being the most worried (66%).

Causes For Concern

According to Layoffs.fyi, nearly 198,000 workers have been laid off this year in the tech sector alone. There are fewer opportunities for professionals in the United States, as data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that job postings have fallen by nearly 500,000 since the end of 2022. Hiring for knowledge workers or the “laptop class” has slowed, while jobs for lower-wage workers remain abundant, especially in leisure and hospitality.

As if that is not enough to instill fear into white-collar workers, in March, Goldman Sachs released an alarming research report about the ascendency of artificial intelligence. The investment bank concluded in the analysis that 300 million jobs could be lost or diminished due to this fast-growing technology.

Office administrative support, legal, architecture and engineering, business and financial operations, management, sales, healthcare and art and design are some sectors that automation will impact. In 2023, IBM and Chegg laid off workers or paused hiring, as management felt AI could handle many of their tasks.

Companies are also accelerating their efforts to send jobs to lower-cost countries. A recent Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta survey found that 7.3% of leadership in the U.S. plans to move more jobs offshore as the next step from remote work within America.

Nicholas Bloom, an economist at Stanford University and an expert in workplace matters, told the Wall Street Journal, “About 10% to 20% of U.S. service support jobs, like software developers, human-resources professionals and payroll administrators, could move overseas in the next decade.”

The Job Search Process

Michelle Reisdorf, an Illinois-based district director at recruiting firm Robert Half, told the Wall Street Journal that employers are being “extra cautious” when it comes to hiring. Unlike the Great Resignation, when companies urgently needed to increase headcount, hiring managers are now slow-walking the interview process to vet out candidates properly. Businesses are also raising their standards for hiring, whereas, during the talent shortage, companies were less stringent in their criteria. Understandably, employers will be more discerning when hiring white-collar workers, as these professionals cost more money.

According to data from Robert Half, the average time it takes companies to fill white-collar roles is 11 weeks. In 2021, the hiring process was averaging seven weeks.

In her over 20 years at the recruiting firm, Reisdorf said she has never seen employers exercise this much caution throughout the hiring process.

People Will Move For Less Money

Facing labor market headwinds, employees are willing to accept less money, despite economic uncertainty. In a recent survey by Blind, 56% of tech workers said they’d be willing to accept the same or less pay in a new role. Thirty-three percent of respondents attributed this to the current state of the job market.

The survey also found that tech employees are more likely to accept a lower salary in a job switch if they are already well-compensated. For example, 62% of respondents earning over $100,000 per year said they would accept a lower salary in a job switch.

This is a significant shift from the past, when tech employees were more focused on maximizing their salaries.

What You Can Do About It

Despite the challenges, there are a number of things that white-collar workers can do to safeguard their employment status. One important thing is to stay up-to-date on the latest trends in their field. This will help them to remain relevant and marketable in the job market.

Another important factor is to develop strong skills in areas such as problem-solving, critical thinking and communication. These skills are becoming increasingly important in the workplace and can help professionals stand out.

Sometimes, workers must compromise on pay and work preferences to get hired. That could mean accepting less compensation than you were earning and going into the office every day.

For those people who are still holding onto their jobs, they must make themselves indispensable in the workplace. This will help you avoid being on the chopping block when it comes to layoffs at your company.

Finally, white-collar workers should be prepared to adapt to change. The job market is constantly changing, and knowledge workers need to be able to change with it to stay successful and keep earning a livelihood.

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