• Angad Chowdhry

What do women look for in a job change?

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

Today, 73% of the women in the United States workforce wish to change careers, predominantly in order to find a job with higher pay, one with a mission they believe in, and one that offers a better work-life balance. How easy is it to make the switch to find your dream job?

For women, the process is a lot more cumbersome, primarily because there are many more factors under consideration while making the decision.

Issues related to diversity, support for working mothers, and female safety in the workplace are just some increasingly important factors to consider. In order to understand what exactly women look for when changing jobs, we examined search data and job-related female discourse online using our Culture AI tools.

What are women searching for on the Internet?

We categorized search keywords into different concepts and themes to understand female intent when it comes to switching jobs and analyzed the change over the past two years. The top four themes that emerged were:

  • Pay

  • Job type

  • Parental benefits

  • Career advancement

A lot more women were seeking opinions and conversations on career advancement

The category that saw the highest growth in interest was career advancement, which had an overall change of 54%. Keywords such as “women’s leadership program” and “female tech CEOs'' increased by 37% and 24% respectively, suggesting a growing desire to identify female role models for themselves but also indicating long-term career planning, and seeking resources for growth and development.

Terms related to the theme of job type surfaced with the highest volume, with a change of 7%. Keywords such as “best careers for women” and “good jobs for women” were trending, causing a spike in interest in women-dominated fields such as care work. Similarly, searches for “highest paying careers for women” and “highest paying female jobs” increased by 44.7% and 80% respectively, bringing light to the fact that higher salaries are an important incentive in making the job switch.

Interestingly, we noticed a drop in interest in searches related to parental benefit, which includes terms such as “paid maternity leave in us” and “best career for moms.” This category is the only one with a decrease in search interest (-34.2%) over time.

The high volume and low growth indicate that this long-established concern might have taken a backseat compared to other priorities in recent times - perhaps the COVID pandemic has resulted in a reshuffling of priorities.

Culture AI analysis: What do women say about job shifts?

We analyzed data from social media pages and career forums to explore what women of diverse backgrounds are saying publicly about their career moves.

There were two main things they highlighted in their conversations: the level of meaningfulness and challenge they wish to achieve at work, and the compensation. For women wanting to switch careers, we further divided their core desires into areas of purpose, pragmatism, and change, as major reasons for their decision to make the move.

More than a 9-to-5, women see their workplaces as a space for growth and fulfillment and seek this out in new jobs.

As it becomes the norm to spend more and more years in the workforce, personal fulfillment from your job is becoming the need of the hour. Not only do women want to feel challenged and grow at work, but they also want to ensure that their jobs have a positive impact on society. This need to grow along with the desire to help others is so strong that women are often put off by signs of stagnation and comfort at their workplace.

Pragmatic concerns: Financial security and other concerns

Women want to switch to jobs that are able to offer them more financial security compared to their previous ones. After all, holding a steady job means being able to better support themselves and their families.

Concerns about the dangers that come with being a woman in a particular job also is a factor women consider when switching jobs. Women realize that there are certain male-dominated careers that may pose certain challenges for them when they enter, such as typically being more physically taxing for women, or potentially dangerous due to late-night commutes or situations that place them at higher risk (e.g. law enforcement).

Time for experimenting: women want to try out something different

Sometimes women are so unsure of whether a job is right for them that they find themselves with a sense of despair, obscurity, and uncertainty. This encourages them to pivot or completely change their professional directions, and they start exploring possible career moves where they might be more satisfied.

At these times, women seek help on public forums from others that have had similar experiences, in the hope that they might find guidance in the decision-making process. This need for change is often aggravated by burnouts at the existing job, which drives them to look for work in a more enjoyable and less stressful field.

Barriers women face when looking for a new job

Our discourse analysis also brought to light the challenges faced by women of color and those over 45 years of age.

While non-white women often feel obliged to change their appearance and speech to appear more “professional,” older women, on the other hand, encounter salary discrepancies and a general lack of respect as a result of ageist discrimination from companies. The frustration of these women at having to hide their race and age comes to light across online platforms.

Making the job change process easier for women

Organizations must continue to focus on ensuring pay and career advancement uniformity for women, and help them to find meaningful roles within the company (by potentially offering support and mentorship). It is only once these pressing needs have been addressed that we can hope for job parity, contentment, and fulfillment for women of all backgrounds.

For more detailed research findings on this, reach out to [email protected]