Job losses from the pandemic have taken their toll on Americans. At the time of writing, the unemployment rate is estimated at 7.9% with more than 60 million having filed unemployment claims since March. That doesn’t account for the underemployment rate, which is often overlooked.

That leads many to the process of job searching in the most challenging economic climate in decades. CivicScience looked at what avenues unemployed and underemployed Americans are turning to in order to find work.

It’s Who You Know

A recent survey of more than 5,000 U.S. adults probing how respondents found their most recent job reveals that networking and ‘word of mouth’ still singularly beats out any other job-searching avenue, at 31%. 

People are also less likely to find a job using online job sites than they were in 2019, falling from 14% to 10% today. Correspondingly, the survey shows that 9% of people, working or not, say they search for jobs online daily or weekly. 

Indeed and LinkedIn

Indeed and LinkedIn are the most popular job-searching sites; one quarter of respondents prefer to use Indeed to look for a new job, while 16% prefer LinkedIn.

While Indeed may be more popular than LinkedIn for searching for new jobs, LinkedIn usage has stayed relatively steady at 34% since peaking in mid 2019. The social media site offers more than just job postings, serving primarily as a networking tool.

Despite consistent LinkedIn usage, the trend emerges that fewer people are utilizing job-search sites during the pandemic than before the pandemic. You’d think given the high level of unemployment, that number would have grown as people try to find work. 

The survey shows that 53% of people who reported not working because of the pandemic search for jobs online daily or weekly.

It’s difficult to say whether job-searching sites are being overlooked or if people are just not having success using them. Fewer jobs to go around means fewer job postings online, which could indicate why more people may turn to networking and who they know.

Switching Careers

Certain sectors have been harder hit than others, leading to a scarcer number of available jobs. The survey shows losses among respondents in nearly all sectors except for professional and managerial jobs, with computer, technical and medical fields down by 30% and service industry jobs down by 25% compared to January. On the other hand, professional and managerial jobs seem to have grown by more than 8% since January.

That said, nearly one quarter of respondents say they have considered changing their careers within the last six months, offering more opportunity for online job-searching sites like LinkedIn and Indeed to engage with users.

In fact, the survey found that 66% of those who are job searching online at least a few times a week are thinking about changing their careers.

Job Outlook 

On more of a positive note, sentiment surrounding finding a new job is improving. Earlier this year, 59% of people felt that finding a new job would become more difficult. Today, that number has fallen to 41%.

As expected, those whose jobs have been affected by the pandemic are much more likely to think finding a job will become more difficult. A majority of those who are currently out of work as the result of COVID-19 are not feeling hopeful when it comes to finding a new job.

Those aged 18 to 24 are the most likely to feel that finding a job will become more difficult over the next 6 months, whereas those 25 to 34 are the most likely to think that it will become easier.

Politically, those who identify as liberal are significantly more likely to feel that job searching will become more difficult over the next six months. Conservatives are more than twice as  likely as liberals to feel that it will become easier.

Job status may play a role. The survey shows that conservatives are less likely to have been affected job-wise by the coronavirus compared to moderates and liberals, who are more likely to experience unemployment and underemployment, working with reduced hours and pay.

Women Search More Online

The study indicates that women are more likely than men to feel that finding a job will become more difficult over the next six months. Women are also more likely to have been impacted job-wise by the pandemic, experiencing both higher unemployment and higher underemployment.

That may be driving higher rates of online job-searching among women. Slightly more women than men are searching for jobs online on a weekly basis.

Overall, job searching is as complex and volatile as pretty much everything else right now. Online job-searching sites and tools appear to be underused, leaving room for sites like Indeed and LinkedIn to help connect people with work.