Why more Canadian workers are motivated to find new jobs in an uncertain economy

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Looking for a new job? Here are some of the challenges amid economic uncertainty
WATCH: Looking for a new job? Here are some of the challenges amid economic uncertainty – Feb 8, 2024

Despite a time of economic uncertainty, many Canadians are looking for a new job.

The largest motivating factor? Salary.

That’s according to survey results released by business consulting firm Robert Half Tuesday that found even with 2024 just a month-and-a-half in, 42 per cent of workers are already looking or planning to start their search for a new job or career in the first half of the year.

The percentage of job-seekers in the latest survey is up from 41 per cent in July 2023, though the company noted it’s still down from 50 per cent in December 2022. The survey involved more than 765 workers 18 and older from multiple professions at companies with 20 or more employees across Canada and was conducted from Oct. 27 to Nov. 17, 2023.

Robert Half senior regional director Mike Shekhtman said with a shift into a post-pandemic job market, it’s changed how Canadians see their employment.

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“As things have started to normalize, people have started putting their careers back on the rails and thinking to themselves, ‘what is my path within the company?’ And if they don’t see it, it is becoming a more of a motivator in making a move as we enter 2024,” he told Global News.

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Canada added 37,000 jobs in January as the unemployment rate fell for the first time since December 2022, Statistics Canada reported Friday.

That’s a substantial bump from the 100 jobs added in the final month of 2023, when the jobless rate held steady.

Those Canadians seeking a job, though, are still likely to face some competition after 2023 saw an increase in layoffs combined with fewer job postings — effectively putting some of the balance of power back onto employers.

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“It’s not the same job seekers’ market as before,” Brendon Bernard, senior economist at, told Global News.

A recent report authored by Bernard at the Indeed Hiring Lab found job postings on both the company’s listings and Statistics Canada’s vacancies had fallen 29 and 26 per cent, respectively, year-over-year.

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Bernard added there have also been some trends that emerged in the COVID-19 pandemic that appear to have reversed, including working from home, though jobs like food service and retail have seen a shift back to in-person.

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There are certain factors pushing Canadians out the door from their current workplace, with 47 per cent after a bigger salary, according to Robert Half’s findings. More opportunities to advance, better perks and benefits, and more job flexibility were also cited as reasons for job searching.

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There were several reasons for working Canadians to want to change jobs, but salary was the top cause. Global News

Age and type of career also had influence on who was most likely to make a move, with 67 per cent of those in the generation Z age group and 57 per cent of millennials expecting to change jobs this year.

Marketing and creative professionals also reported a 57 per cent likelihood, but the biggest jump Robert Half found was among human resources workers — 72 per cent said they would likely move from their current role, an increase from 42 per cent in July 2023.

Gen Z and Millennials were among those professionals most likely to change jobs. Global News

There are still several Canadians that appear comfortable where they are, with Robert Half noting 38 per cent felt they had a job flexibility that they didn’t want to lose, while 36 per cent said they felt fulfilled in their role.

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“Those are individuals (who) are the ones that maybe have been able to have different important things addressed for them,” Shekhtman noted. “We saw companies really come to the table and make sure that people are getting compensated.

Hiring managers are still actively seeking talent for new roles with 54 per cent on their own hunt, but facing competition with each other when trying to find professionals with in-demand skills. About 64 per cent say it’s now taking longer to hire than just a year ago.

“It’s not because there’s more shortage of individuals (but) because maybe the process of hiring has shifted for companies … and all of that has caused the elongated type of process, which as a result people are losing out on good people,” Shekhtman said.

A recession could change the job market: economist

Bernard notes unemployment has stayed below six per cent because layoffs have also remained low, but that could change were Canada to drop into a recession — something economists have been raising concerns around.

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A technical recession is typically defined as two straight quarters of negative economic growth.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) projected last month that the economy contracted 0.2 per cent in the final quarter of 2023. If accurate, the two consecutive declines in real GDP would constitute a technical recession.

However, Statistic Canada’s numbers for last year’s fourth quarter won’t be released until the end of this month, and initial data from December suggests the economy got a lift late last year.

The Bank of Canada, meanwhile, is not forecasting a recession.

But if Canada were to enter a full recession, not only would more people be seeking a new job, but they’d have to contend with many more people likely facing layoffs.

“There’s this possibility of a recession kind of coming, which could really dislodge the job market,” he said.

Personal network can help in job hunt

If you are looking for a new job, Bernard points out utilizing job search websites can help in determining both the jobs you’re looking for, but also what employer might be the best fit.

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He stressed using your personal network can be another beneficial tool, talking with people you know in the fields you’re interested in and what they think can be the best options for a new role.

“Aspects of personal advice and professional network is just as important as using the internet,” he said.

Career strategist and founder of TalentGap, Tobi Oulwole, told Global News in December that Canadians should consider giving their resume a makeover using AI tools to ensure it contains the right key words and structure for your field and the type of job you seek.

Resume review services used to cost as much “$500 or $1,000” but he says there are tools and apps that allow you to create a free account to help build yourself an “incredible resume for $12.

With quality resumes “flooding the market,” Oluwole says it’s time to improve your soft skills to ensure you’re interview-ready. In addition, he recommends “investing heavily” in boosting your personal brand online.

with files from Global News’ Anne Gaviola and Craig Lord

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