Where the grass really is greener in the job search

Increase your job-search success with two data-backed solutions.

Performing a job search is difficult. Writing the perfect resume, researching a company in-depth, interviewing impeccably and just the right amount of follow-up are all musts when completing a job application. If you do them all right, you could land the job. Or you could be one of 1,000 other applicants to a job that 100 of you are probably perfect for. This is the reality of the job search for many professionals. Ladders turned to its database of more than 6 million job seekers and more than 49,000 recruiters to uncover why this is, and what job seekers can do about it.

The first trend that emerged in the original study’s data was that certain job markets are oversaturated with job seekers. With unemployment rates varying from 3% in Bismarck, ND to 30% in Yuma, AZ, this was not surprising information. Similar to the housing market, certain cities can be considered “employers’ markets,” while others can be more conducive to job seekers finding new positions.

The map below depicts what the job market is like across the United States. Areas in red are saturated with job seekers, making them employers’ markets. In these areas there are simply too many job seekers and not enough jobs. Surprisingly, in many of these areas there are markets 200-300 miles away that favor the job seeker, depicted in green.

US Unemployment Map Ladders

Taking a closer look at a few of the red locations, we see that in southern Florida there is high job competition in the Miami area, but just north in Orlando and Daytona Beach the ratio of job seekers to jobs is much more favorable, making it more likely to land a job. The same is true of the markets in Charlotte, NC and Atlanta, GA, as well as Los Angeles and San Francisco. If you’re willing to relocate to a nearby market, you could find a job more easily than staying put.

Relocation is not an option for all professionals seeking jobs. For these individuals, another trend emerged from the data. Similar to the over-saturated geographic markets, it seems that there are over-saturated job functions within markets that have more job seekers applying to fewer open jobs. The following chart includes 13 of the most popular job markets, and illustrates the ratio of job seekers to open jobs in the 10 most popular functions.

Job Opportunities in Top US Markets

What we can see in the chart is that each job market has professional functions that are over-saturated with job seekers (red). Other functions have plenty of open positions (green) and thus, less job competition. If you’re looking for a new job and are having trouble in your current function, transferring your skills into a similar role may be the best option.

In these highly competitive job functions (such as operations or marketing in Miami), professionals should seek positions with “functional adjacencies.” These are positions in which your core functional skills are highly transferrable from one industry to the other. For instance, the automotive and aerospace industries may not seem similar, but B2B sales, engineering, and information technology professionals migrate from one to the other at high rates.

Some examples of other popular career transitions to less competitive job functions include:

  • Sales to healthcare: business-to-business sales to pharmaceutical sales
  • Education to healthcare: educational research to biotech research & development
  • Marketing to technology: product marketing to product management

If you’ve followed all of Ladders’ advice and are still having trouble getting a job offer, your market or function’s job seeker-to-job ratio may be unfavorable, and it could be time to consider one of these two job-search solutions.