Thinkopolis IV: ‘Time’ to Work

As we head into the second quarter of 2014, the key economic indicators that Workopolis watches closely are all pointing towards a steady increase in employment for the coming months. Still, the Canadian national unemployment rate has hovered around the 7 per cent level for many months now, indicating that there are still many people looking for work.

With the end of April also comes a new cohort of graduates entering the labour market.

Canadians’ job search patterns – from how long we stay in a job to how often we change fields – are constantly evolving. For this report, the Workopolis research team has analysed millions of resume employment histories and employer resume-view patterns and polled thousands of Canadians between January and March of this year. Here is the new chronology of Canadian career moves.

How long do we stay at work?

According to Statistics Canada, Canadians work an average of 36.4 hours per week. That’s 39.6 hours for men and 33.2 for women. But that’s how many hours we put in on the jobs we have. The length of time that we actually stay in our jobs is getting shorter and shorter.

Job hopping is the new normal.

Millions of resumes have been uploaded to Workopolis in the decade and a half since we were founded in 2000. Even those very first resumes added had work histories going back a decade or more. This gives us data from over 7,000,000 employment-history records dating from 1990 to the present.

During the first decade of that time, from 1990 through 2000 the number of people staying at their jobs for less than two years doubled from 16 percent to 33 per cent of employees. That trend has only accelerated into the 2000s, almost doubling again from 33 per cent to 51 per cent. Shorter stints at jobs have now become the majority.

The number of people who held the same job for longer than four years has dropped dramatically over the past two decades. While from 1990-2002, most people (55-60 per cent) stayed in the same job for at least four years, that number has been cut in half since 2002. Now just 30 per cent of people hold any one job for over four years.

The move to frequent job changes continues to this day: approximately one third (32 per cent) of candidates who started new jobs in 2013 have already left or changed their job since.

We polled Workopolis visitors last month to see why they had left their most recent jobs. It turns out that a poor working relationship with their boss was the biggest reason to make a change. Disengagement at work was also a common factor. Here’s what Canadians told us.

    What’s your reason for leaving your most recent job?

  • My relationship with my boss – 37%
  • I was bored, unhappy with the work – 29%
  • I found a better opportunity – 20%
  • Poor fit with the culture / coworkers – 14%

While some employers still view ‘job hopping’ as a red flag on a candidate’s resume – shorter tenure in jobs and more frequent employment changes have become more common than not.

Three reasons why hiring ‘job hoppers’ can be good for employers:

  • As more and more people change jobs increasingly frequently, this group is becoming too large a pool of talent to simply disregard.
  • Changing jobs frequently gives workers a broader perspective of their industry, because they become familiar with the inner workings, challenges and strategies of numerous organizations.
  • Job hoppers are perpetually the ‘new person’ on the team and so tend to be more flexible and hard working without a sense of complacency or entitlement, because they are in the first-impression phase. This energy can reinvigorate a team.

Career detours

Along with more frequent changes in jobs, many Canadians are also changing directions completely. We polled Workopolis users just this year about how many different career paths they have followed over their working lives. More than two-thirds (69 per cent) of people have worked in more than one field, and almost half (48 per cent) have changed careers at least three times.

    How many different career paths have you had
    in your working life?

  • I’ve always worked in the same field – 31%
  • I’ve switched careers once – 21%
  • Three or four different kinds of jobs – 35%
  • More than four career paths – 13%

Tips for transitioning to a different career field

  • Research the industry to ensure you know the challenges, trends and jargon used. Even without experience, you still want to come across as knowledgeable.
  • Tailor your skills and accomplishments to the specific needs of the industry that you are targeting.
  • Highlight your transferable skills that are in demand across industries, such as communications, leadership, and problem solving.
  • Be prepared to start at a lower level and work your way back up.

How long does it take to find work?

Getting work takes time. Job searches can last anywhere from two days to over a year, but for most people it is roughly four months. The largest group, 50 per cent of people surveyed, said that it took approximately 16 weeks to secure their most recent job. (This is slightly shorter than the Canadian average duration of unemployment-period reported by Statistics Canada as being 20.6 weeks as of January 2014.)

Getting work also takes work. The majority of Canadians (65 per cent) say that they applied to more than 10 opportunities before being hired for their most recent job. Most people (80 per cent) say that they apply for at least five jobs just in order to secure one job interview.

Just over half (56 per cent) of candidates said that they only had to conduct one or two job interviews in order to be hired. A further 30 per cent of people said that they needed to perform five or more job interviews before being hired for their most recent job.

    How many jobs did you interview for
    before being hired for your most recent job?

  • Just the one – 43%
  • Two – 13%
  • Three or four – 14%
  • Five or more job interviews – 30%

While nearly a quarter of employers (24 per cent) get back to candidates within a week of the job interview, a surprising 44 per cent never respond at all.

    How long did it take the employer to
    respond after your last interview?

  • 24 hours to a week – 24%
  • One to two weeks – 18%
  • Over two weeks – 14%
  • I never heard back at all – 44%

Advice for Candidates:

While candidates should send a thank you note after every job interview, if you haven’t heard from the employer in the time specified (or in a reasonable amount of time), it is okay to write in a second time. Use this follow-up to restate your enthusiasm for the job and to highlight how you are the right fit for it. Refer to the interview specifically, demonstrating that you pay attention to detail and recall key information.

Advice for employers:

It is important to respond to each candidate who is interviewed. Every interested candidate who applies for a job should have a positive experience with your company. Any time you can interact with a candidate is an opportunity to enhance your company’s employment brand. The candidate may be disappointed if they are not hired, but if they feel they’ve been poorly treated they can become vocal detractors of your company.

If the candidate is not going to be hired, let them know as soon as possible out of courtesy.

The 11 second rule

Employers search the Workopolis database 16,000 times a day looking at candidate resumes – each search resulting in multiple resume views. Many more thousands of resumes are also submitted in online job applications. Workopolis can see in real-time how long employers spend on each resume page before saving it or moving on.

Nearly 80 per cent of resumes don’t make the first cut. Recruiters shortlist an average of two out of every ten resumes viewed, and that decision happens quickly. Nearly 60 per cent (59 per cent) of employers spend just 11 seconds or less on the resume page before either saving or downloading it, or moving on.

Over the last three years the amount of time spent on individual resumes has been decreasing. The number of people viewing resumes for less than 15 seconds increased by 14 per cent in 2012 over 2011 and another 9 per cent in 2013 over 2012.

Resumes that are shortlisted by employers are viewed for 25 per cent longer than those that are immediately passed over. Even those resumes that are selected have very little time to make an impression.

Only about 14 per cent of recruiters spend more than one minute viewing a resume page. (By contrast, one third [32 per cent] of candidates spend over a minute reading a job posting.)

    Resume tips for surviving the 11 second scan:

  • Don’t open with a wordy paragraph about what you are looking for. Start with a skills summary of what you can offer employers instead.
  • Use short sentences and paragraphs with bulleted lists for maximum readability.
  • List your work history with clear start and end dates in a consistent format in reverse chronological order.
  • Proofread. An obvious spelling mistake or typo will get your resume rejected in less than 11 seconds.

When candidates receive a job offer, slightly fewer than half choose to negotiate the specifics. The group that does negotiate is split between those who bargain on the spot and those who take some time to seek expert advice.

    When you receive a job offer, do you negotiate the details?

  • I accept the job as offered – 51%
  • I negotiate for a better deal on the spot – 23%
  • I consult with experts before responding – 26%

When it comes to negotiations – and job searches in general – knowledge is power. The more information you have at the outset, the greater your chances of success. Workopolis publishes the latest research and insights on employment in Canada regularly at

Download this report as a PDF


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