Occupation Spotlight

Careers Canadians Don’t Want to Leave

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Pay, skills, and career outlook all play a factor.

Key points:

  • Exploring new fields is common among many on the job hunt, according to Indeed data. However, certain categories of workers search elsewhere less often, especially those with recent experience in tech and healthcare. Surprisingly, transportation, office, and administrative workers also fall in this group.
  • What this means for job seekers: Young Canadians looking for careers with bright outlooks that they’ll stick with should consider the tech and healthcare fields. More broadly though, job seekers feeling lukewarm about their current occupations can feel assured knowing that exploring new options is the norm. 
  • What this means for employers: Depending on the role, employers struggling to fill vacancies can substantially expand their candidate pools by broadening their focus from experience to applicable skills.  

The Canadian labour market is in a constant state of churn, with hundreds of thousands of people starting and ending jobs every month. This movement would be hard to maintain if job seekers only looked for new opportunities close to their recent experience. In fact, people are much more flexible. Indeed data suggest it’s quite common for those on the job hunt to explore changing careers. 

We measure how often job seekers consider switching occupations by comparing their most recent work experience, as indicated by job titles on resumes uploaded to Indeed, with the types of positions they click on. After assigning job titles to one of 23 broader groups, we then track how often job seekers click on postings outside their category, such as a truck driver clicking on a job unrelated to transportation and material moving. 

Canadians frequently explore new career options. Depending on their recent positions, often over half of job seekers’ clicks are on jobs outside their latest field. Some of this probably stems from general research as people begin their searches. But it also probably reflects a degree of fluidity across different occupations in the Canadian labour market.

What careers are people least likely to consider leaving? 

Interest in new fields differs widely depending on recent work experience. A few overarching factors help explain some of this variation. First, those coming from jobs with better pay, as measured by average salaries on Indeed job postings, tend to click outside their professions less often. If a person’s job search isn’t urgent, there’s less reason to go down the salary ladder.

Second, those whose latest experience was in a job with plenty of job postings also click on different careers at slightly lower rates. If opportunities for work in one’s current field is limited, job seekers are more likely to click elsewhere. 

However, even after accounting for pay levels and availability of job openings, certain broader occupations retain worker interest at much higher rates than others. 

Tech workers, including people with recent history as software engineers and web developers, stand out as rarely looking to leave. In general, seven of the 15 job titles with the lowest out-click rates are in either computers or such engineering roles as mechanical designer. The specialized skills and positive long-term outlook for these occupations mean there’s little reason to look elsewhere.

Dental hygienists, and registered and licensed practical nurses, also tend to focus job searches on healthcare-related roles. Not only is it a job seeker’s market for these practitioners, but all three occupations require specialized schooling that might make switching careers less enticing. 

More surprising jobs in which people’s clicks more often stay in their current fields include truck drivers as well as dual-receptionist/administrative assistants and administrative clerks. This exemplifies a general pattern among workers with backgrounds in transportation as well as office and administration occupations, which may reflect higher-than-average shares of older workers in these fields. 

Career change and the Canadian labour market

The mix of jobs from which people are least likely to explore new careers contains roles with interesting implications for the future of work. On one hand, some are in tech and healthcare, fields expected to grow in size and importance. However, people holding certain jobs in transportation and office support also look outside their fields less than average. These jobs are often cited as among the types at risk of disruption in the years ahead. Depending on their latest roles, some job seekers likely want to stay in their fields because the future looks bright however, others in jobs with weaker outlooks might be discouraged from looking at different occupations because they aren’t confident in finding work elsewhere. 

The fact is though that exploring new career options is actually the norm, not the exception, for many job seekers. This flexibility reflects both positive and negative aspects of the Canadian labour market. In some cases, it highlights young people and those dissatisfied in their current fields searching for new roles, as well as general economic dynamism as workers shift to sectors with more opportunity.

At the same time, it also signals the precarious employment status of many Canadians. Even if overall unemployment is historically low, for those who urgently need a new job, there isn’t always time to wait for a position that matches their recent work experience. They might have to make do with whatever they can find.

Depending on the role, employers struggling to fill certain vacancies can expand the candidate pool by relaxing experience requirements, focusing more on transferable skills. Many already do this. Roughly half of Canadian job vacancies over the past year were open to those with less than a year of experience, according to Statistics Canada. In this case, employers with positions open to novices should know the state of the labour market beyond their industry. A tighter overall market can make it tougher to hire even if their own sector isn’t expanding quickly.   

Methodology

We assign job titles to broad occupational groupings — i.e. two-digit SOC codes — formulated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Job seeker clicks are designated as career-change clicks if they are on job titles in different occupational groupings than those of the most recent job titles on their resumes. 

The correlations described in the post reflect regression results at the job-title level for positions with at least 1,000 resumes uploaded to Indeed Canada, excluding titles that don’t cleanly map to a specific occupation group. For example, the job title “labourer” was excluded, since it can be classified as both a construction, and production-related occupation.

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