Money Matters Most for Millennials On the Job Hunt: Survey

For modern job hunters, Millennials especially, money matters most.

Jobvite released its fifth annual Job Seeker Nation study on Thursday looking at how job seekers’ attitudes and their job hunting strategies have shifted as the economy grows, and thus puts them back in control.

The 2,084 respondent survey focuses on labor-market trends, and finds the modern job seeker is perpetually on the prowl for a better opportunity and can be satiated best with a higher pay. But job commitment issues aside, 60% of those on the hunt are optimistic about their chances. According to PwC’s Trendsetter Barometer Business Outlook of private companies, 65% voice optimism about the U.S. economy, corroborating job hunters’ enthusiasm.

Jobvite CEO Dan Finnigan said this optimistic, opportunistic, commitment-phobic outlook among modern workers, and namely Millennials, is to a great extent tied to when they hit the workforce: Smack-dab in the middle of the Great Recession. And he said it’s worth noting studies show generations that graduate from college or enter the workforce during periods of economic instability are always playing catch-up financially and professionally. Not to mention the massive piles of student with which they’re saddled.

“After seeing eight million jobs disappear … [modern job seekers] don’t take anything for granted,” Finnigan said. “This generation didn’t see the consistent economic growth that previous generations have enjoyed in the U.S. … so they’re very concerned about getting as far ahead in their career when they have the wind at their back.”

In fact, according to the study 50% of all workers view their current jobs as placeholder positions, and the number spikes among Millennials to 71% seeing their current jobs as temporary stepping stones. While benefits such as health care, 401(k) and location are seen as important, minimal pay and lack of growth opportunities are reasons enough to leave. According to the study, 61% of respondents said compensation most impacted their decision to take a new job.

Can't Get No... (Wage) Satisfaction

Friday the Labor Department released its January jobs report. The forecast was for another strong month of job gains, and that was indeed the case. The U.S. economy added 257,000 jobs in January, compared to estimates calling for 234,000 . The unemployment rate rose to 5.7% from 5.6% the month prior, while forecasts were for it to hold steady. But the real focus, according to analysts, is on average hourly wages, which rose 0.5% in January, after falling five cents in December to $24.57.

Despite the seeming mandate -- as 29 states and the District of Columbia raise wages this year -- to hike the Federal minimum wage up from $7.25 per hour, the Labor Department reports in the past year average hourly wages have risen only about 1.7%.

One reason offered for tepid wage growth is what economists call “labor market slack.” Those 8.8 million workers who lost their jobs after 2008 may be able to find part-time or temporary work, but many would jump ship if a better, full-time opportunity came along.

The U.S. may have added jobs, but not all were necessarily full-time ones with benefits. And analysts argue wages won’t rise as long as employers know they can rely on the large pool of part-time and temporary workers to fill openings.

“Now, here it is 2015, we’ve had over a year of monthly job growth, the unemployment rate among the college educated is historically low … and what we’re seeing is two emerging labor markets,” Finnigan said.

Alexandra Hughes graduated from the University of Arkansas in December with a degree in Sports Management. She began her job search a couple months in advance of graduation day and landed a full-time internship with Minor League Baseball team The Arkansas Travelers that pays an hourly stipend of $8.50. Hughes’ dream job would be working for a sports organization with a strong philanthropic arm. She knows this internship can certainly jump start that career, but is looking for a second part-time job because $8.50 an hour doesn’t pay the bills.

“I cannot live off of $8.50 an hour,” Hughes said. “Luckily, my parents see that and will help out with rent, but I will need a second job to take care of other expenses.”

An All Day Affair

Hughes has been skimming the obvious social media sites -- LinkedIn (NASDAQ:LNKD), Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Indeed -- but she has found more luck on niche networks, such as TeamWork Online that focuses on sports and live events positions.

The Jobvite survey shows that while Facebook ( a whopping 67%), Twitter (NASDAQ:TWTR) (45%) and LinkedIn (40%) still have the bulk of the eyeball-share, less obvious channels like Instagram and Pinterest are encroaching on this territory. As the undertaking becomes more of a 24/7 activity, hunters have less qualms about when or where they scour (38% search whilst commuting, 30% look on the job and 47% look purely on mobile devices, per Jobvite).

For Jobvite, which sells software that allows companies to locate and source candidates via social networks, this finding that Facebook is leading the pack is especially useful.

What Finnigan finds most interesting is the dividing line between the kinds of job seekers that turn to it, and the kinds of jobs that saturate LinkedIn versus Facebook. He explains LinkedIn leans more toward college-educated and above, while Facebook swings toward college-educated and below.

Finnigan, who has 20 years’ experience in the recruiting field and prior to Jobvite sat on the board of Career Builder, says the reason lies in volume, or the number of jobs in the economy. That, and Facebook has a higher penetration of the population, so more people are likely to begin their job seeking conversations there.

The good news, he says, is that for those at every point of the education spectrum, jobs have started to crop back up.

“The challenge is for companies that are fighting for the workforce, recruiting in a very tight labor market,” Finnigan said.