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(Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash)

BOULDER, Colo. — Many job seekers know how tough it can be to land the position of their dreams. As millions return to work a year after COVID-19 shut down the economy, one might think there are plenty of openings for people to find a good fit. However, a new survey reveals that’s not what many job seekers are finding. In fact, half of Americans looking for a job are upset they can’t find a position which fits their skills.

The FlexJobs survey of over 1,800 people currently out of work finds 69 percent don’t have a job as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic. The same number say they’re actively and constantly searching for a new job. However, 48 percent say they’re “frustrated” with the lack of jobs they feel they’re a good fit for.

To put this mismatched job market into perspective, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there were 9.2 million job openings in May 2021. Despite that massive number, only 5.9 million people were hired to work. Moreover, nearly half (48%) of small businesses in May had positions that went unfilled.

What’s frustrating job seekers?

Along with not finding a good fit for their skills, many job seekers claim companies simply aren’t bothering to get back to them when they do apply. In fact, a larger number of job seekers say they’re frustrated because employers are unresponsive (42%) than those who say they can’t find a job they want (41%).

One in three say they apply for jobs but don’t get selected to have an interview. Another 15 percent claim there were no opportunities worth applying for during the last month. Unfortunately, all this is leading 53 percent to say their mental health is worse today than prior to the pandemic.

Meanwhile, government relief is doing little to help unemployed Americans stay afloat. Although 72 percent say they received either unemployment, a stimulus check, or both, only 13 percent say it helped them postpone their job search. Forty-two percent of the survey have been out of work for over a year now.

Remote work or bust

Researchers find that some of what’s going wrong in the recovering job market has to do with the changing culture during COVID. Although many people are frustrated with the lack of “good-fitting” jobs, many job seekers are also unwilling to consider returning to an office.

In July of 2020, two-thirds of workers said they were willing to go back to their old job at the same hours and rate of pay. By April of 2021 however, that number fell to just 52.3 percent. Researchers add that many respondents now prefer to find a role that’s either fully remote or a hybrid job that lets them work at home part-time.

Settling for less

As their struggles drag on, some respondents are also adjusting their job searches and staying open to the possibility of switching careers. One in three (35%) are now considering looking for jobs in another field. Over half of unemployed job seekers (56%) are applying to positions they think they’re overqualified for.

If it means landing a new job, a staggering 85 percent say they’re willing to take a pay cut to get back to work. Of those, 35 percent would accept a “modest” pay cut of six to 19 percent. However, 12 percent admit they’d take a job that cuts their pay by over 20 percent.

For many, the only jobs they’re finding are lower in stature than their work before COVID. Forty-six percent of job seekers say they’re only finding job opportunities which they consider low-paying.

About Chris Melore

Chris Melore has been a writer, researcher, editor, and producer in the New York-area since 2006. He won a local Emmy award for his work in sports television in 2011.

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