It’s Still A Candidate’s World: Majority Of Employees Will Job Hunt During A Recession

Most employees believe we’re entering a recession, yet 57% will actively look for a new job

Greenhouse has released its Candidate Economic Sentiment Report, revealing that even fear of a looming recession hasn’t derailed the Great Resignation – job seekers continue to look for better jobs even during a downturn. The report, surveying over 1,500 employees in the United States, found that 57% of employees would actively look for a new job if we enter an economic recession in 2022, and over 70% of respondents believe we will be in a recession within six months or less.

The Greenhouse Candidate Economic survey reveals most employees believe we’re entering a recession, yet 57% will actively look for a new job and are optimistic about the job market.
The Greenhouse Candidate Economic survey reveals most employees believe we’re entering a recession, yet 57% will actively look for a new job and are optimistic about the job market.


With the memory of massive layoffs triggered by the pandemic still fresh, two-thirds of employees would look for a new job if their compensation package was reduced during the next recession. Furthermore, almost 60% of employees would consider leaving a company if it cut down on benefits such as the option to work from home, flexible schedules, and wellness initiatives, among others.

While more than half (52%) of employees expect wages to fall during an economic downturn, Greenhouse’s findings showed that the large majority of candidates (70%) have an optimistic outlook on the labor market, signaling their continued upper hand in the tight competition for talent.

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Additional survey data show how candidates think about recession, layoffs, benefits and compensation:

  • More than 86% of employees said their loyalty would be affected if a company fails to be transparent regarding slowing company growth, hiring freezes, and lay-offs
  • 52% of candidates predict a company would make a wave of layoffs if it announced a hiring freeze
  • More than three-quarters of respondents say they are less likely to work for a company that has made mass layoffs in the past
  • Almost 55% of employees believe that CEOs and leaders should not receive their annual bonus if they’ve made layoffs in the same period.
  • Unsurprisingly, more than half of respondents strongly disagree with companies making mass firings over Zoom, while the majority (77%) believe the best approach to letting go of employees is in person with a direct manager or HR.

“Whether an economic recession is coming or not, candidates believe they will continue to have the strongest hand in the hiring process,” said Daniel Chait, CEO & Co-founder of Greenhouse. “There are almost two jobs available for every job seeker in the United States today, and it’s possible we could enter a recession with close to full employment. Regardless of the economic climate, companies still need to compete for talent. This could be the first recession that we see candidates win in.”

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The research indicates that companies must tread cautiously in how they manage any potential turbulence. “While the economic outlook might be changing, the pressures to attract and retain talent are here to stay. Hiring is not something you can turn off and switch back on without consequence when growth ramps back up,” Daniel Chait, CEO & Co-founder of Greenhouse added. “While reducing the workforce may be an appropriate strategy in some situations, companies will need to take a more considered and long-term approach to talent and operations. There’s no outrunning the past, the internet never forgets and companies that rush to make major cuts may later suffer the consequences. Leaders have many cards to play before layoffs. It will benefit your business (and bottom line) to nurture your talent and get better at hiring than firing.”

Company mission and values remain integral for candidates, with 87% of respondents saying it’s important for an employer’s values to match their own. Over three-quarters of talent want to work for a company that stands up for the social causes they believe in, with 82% emphasizing a commitment to sustainability. Despite a number of companies banning discussion surrounding politics in the workplace, 44% of employees would be less likely to remain in a job if their employer’s political viewpoints did not align with theirs.

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