In conversations with more than a dozen young job seekers, many said years of uncertainty and upheaval had left them feeling that they should freeze or delay the search for a dream job and focus on finding a secure one.
The share of job seekers of all ages who said security was one of their top priorities rose to 37 percent in October, from 31 percent in January, according to ZipRecruiter. One young woman said she was applying only to jobs with salary ranges listed so she could feel confident about making ends meet as prices climbed. Another switched to marketing from sports entertainment, worried about future opportunities in her field given the pandemic’s effects.
When Tiffany Dyba, a recruiter in New York City, reached out to young people about job openings, she said, they used to respond with a list of questions: Were there free lunches? What about happy hours on Fridays with kegs in the office? Gallup polling tended to find that older workers valued an employer’s financial stability more than younger ones, who value diversity and transparency.
“Now people are like, ‘Is this job remote?’ And ‘I need to know the compensation right now,’” Ms. Dyba said. “It’s not about the dream job anymore.”
It’s unsettling for some young people to see employers long associated with free-flowing perks and eye-popping salaries make their largest-ever job cuts. Meta laid off more than 11,000 employees last month. Amazon laid off roughly 10,000 people in corporate and technology roles. Twitter laid off over 3,000 people. Meta once offered laundry services to its employees. Twitter, until recently, had free lunch.
“It’s a reality check for most people,” said Rachael Noble, 27, who was laid off from her position at a tech start-up in August and is now looking for a new role from her home in San Diego. “It’s recalibrating your mental model on how to approach job hunting. There can be growing pains.”
The first job market that someone enters is significant. Those first 10 years of work typically shape a person’s lifetime earning potential, with the bulk of earning growth happening early on, according to research from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.