How Job Seekers and Employers Can Bridge the Job Market Divide

Remote work set up a collision course for candidates, who want to work from home, and employers, who’d rather have people in the office.

Written by Alex Vakulov
Published on Dec. 12, 2023
How Job Seekers and Employers Can Bridge the Job Market Divide
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Remote work has surged to the forefront of employment strategies, accelerated by the digital revolution and the unprecedented circumstances of a global pandemic. Remote work, once a niche choice for freelancers and digital nomads, is now an integral part of today’s employment landscape.

Why Companies Want Employees at the Office

  1. Better security, including protection against data breaches
  2. Higher productivity
  3. The ability to maintain a corporate culture.

As of 2023, 12.7 percent of full-time employees are fully remote, while 28.7 percent have a hybrid schedule. Yet the demand is much higher. These days, 27 percent of U.S. employees work remotely, with forecasts projecting a rise to 36.2 million by 2025. 

Why employees like remote work

  1. Flexible schedules
  2. Reduced exposure to communal health threats
  3. The ability to save money on commutes, lunches and work attire

While many job postings now boast remote options, only 16 percent of new openings are fully remote positions. This mismatch highlights the challenges job candidates face in securing fully remote roles, as a substantial 44 percent of global companies do not offer remote work at all. 

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Causes of the Dual Job Market

Candidates’ growing preference for remote work is driven by its perceived benefits to work-life balance and productivity, with 77 percent reporting they are more productive when working from home. 

However, businesses appear hesitant to fully commit to this trend. Gartner’s research suggests that only 9 percent of global knowledge workers will be fully remote by the end of 2023. The reluctance of enterprises to dive into fully remote operations contrasts sharply with the desires of modern workers, who seek the autonomy and flexibility that remote jobs provide.

The prevailing disparity between the availability of remote roles and the preferences of job seekers is creating a dual job market. The scarcity of fully remote positions leads to intense competition as a growing pool of candidates competes for a limited number of opportunities. This competition can result in longer unemployment periods for candidates and higher qualifications requirements, which may in turn influence the landscape of job qualifications and candidate selection.

Employee retention and satisfaction are also at stake in this evolving work environment. For those who prioritize the freedom offered by remote work, the challenge of finding suitable roles can lead to job dissatisfaction and frequent job changes. 

 

Strategies for Job Seekers 

As the number of remote job openings surpasses demand, competition for these jobs is sky high. Job seekers must adapt and employ strategies to navigate this evolving landscape successfully. Here are several strategies for job seekers seeking remote opportunities.
 

tailor your Resume

Tailor your resume to highlight your remote work skills and experience. Emphasize your ability to work independently, manage time effectively and communicate clearly in a remote environment. Include any past remote work experience, even if it was a temporary arrangement during the pandemic.
 

update your social media profiles

Create or update your professional social-media profile to reflect your interest in remote work. Join relevant remote work communities to connect with professionals and potential employers. Networking can often open doors to remote job opportunities that may not be advertised widely. 
 

use Job search platforms

Use specialized job search platforms and websites dedicated to remote work listings. Regularly check these platforms for new job postings and set up job alerts to stay informed.
 

do some Training

Consider investing in courses or certifications that enhance your remote work capabilities such as collaboration, time management and self discipline.
 

Freelance

Be open to contract work, part-time positions or freelance opportunities that might lead to full-time remote roles. If you receive an offer for an on-site position, try negotiating for a remote or hybrid arrangement.

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Strategies for Employers

Companies must also adapt to remain competitive and retain a talented workforce. Adapting to this new reality requires a strategic approach. Here are some key hiring strategies for in-office roles.
 

develop Clear work policies

Develop and communicate clear work policies that address remote work expectations and performance measurement. A flexible policy allows employees to choose the work arrangement that suits them best, whether fully remote, hybrid or office-based.

An example of a flexible work policy is one that allows employees to work remotely one to two days a week or to have a four-day office workweek with three days off. Beyond the hybrid model, offering flexible work hours for in-office roles can appeal to those who may have personal commitments or prefer to avoid peak commuting times.


offer Competitive salaries

Offer competitive salaries, exceptional health benefits, retirement plans and ample vacation time, all of which can offset the perceived inconvenience of in-office work.
 

Create engaging Work

Create positions that are enriched with a variety of tasks, provide autonomy in job execution and play an important role in the organization. All of this can provide a more satisfying in-office work experience.
 

offer training

Emphasize opportunities for growth, including training programs, mentorship and clear pathways to advancement, can draw candidates who are interested in developing their careers.
 

Perk up the office

Make the office environment more appealing. This can include offering modern workspaces, leisure areas or amenities like on-site childcare, gyms and health facilities. Consider providing services such as on-site grocery delivery pick-ups, daycare, legal advice, financial planning and laundry services for employees who spend most of their time at the office. 
 

Be social

Regularly host team lunches, happy hours, holiday parties and other social events to foster community and help employees network and build relationships beyond work tasks. Cultivating a positive company culture that aligns with the values of the workforce can make working in the office more enticing.

Remote work is reshaping recruitment, retention and employee development strategies, emphasizing the need to find a fit. Both employers and job seekers must approach this shift with creativity and flexibility. If that does not happen, businesses may find themselves in constant dissatisfaction, with job seekers feeling equally unsettled. 

We will likely witness a transformation in the job-market cycle, driven by a need for adaptation on either side. With declining demographics, remote work will lead to more outsourcing and automation of basic tasks by AI. The trend is toward an employee-driven market, where the balance of power is slightly tipping away from employers.

Implementing the strategies and insights discussed above can help both job seekers and employers navigate this dual job market with confidence, resilience and optimism, shaping a brighter future for the world of work.

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