Many Jobseekers Are Searching for Work Abroad. But Where Are They Looking?

As the economy recovers, people are beginning to move for work again. Where are they searching for jobs?

During the global financial crisis, stocks tumbled, businesses shut down and workers were ejected from the labour market—in some cases permanently. But there are a number of ways we know that the economy is now recovering: We’re heading into the seventh year of growth since the financial crisis, hiring is up and, significantly, we’re seeing people move for jobs again.

During the height of the crisis, there was a slump in the level of migration to advanced economies. According to OECD data the numbers fell from a high of 4.7 million in 2007 to 4.4 million in 2008 and then 4.1 million in 2009 and remained flat for years. With the global economy in decline and fewer jobs available, people were simply less willing to take the risk of uprooting themselves for work.

Now, however, consistent GDP growth in OECD countries is prompting people to once again cross borders in pursuit of opportunity. And—as we explore in the Indeed Hiring Lab’s latest report—in 2014, the number of people on the move hit 4.3 million, the highest figure since the recession began and higher even than the pre-crisis year of 2006 when the total was 4.1 million.

Huge numbers of jobseekers searching for work abroad

Indeed data can shine a light on jobseeker interest in moving abroad for work, and here we see that the number of people searching for cross-border opportunities is far greater than the number of people reported as having moved. In fact, by combining mobile and desktop job search, we find that 8.1% of jobseekers worldwide are currently looking for jobs outside their current country.

That’s a huge amount of talent intrigued by the possibilities of new careers in new places. Not every country gets the same amount of attention, however. Previous Indeed Hiring Lab analysis has shown that there is a large, positive correlation between the number of job postings in a country and how many unique jobseekers it attracts. Today’s global candidates are well informed: they know where the work is, and that’s where they do their searching.

It’s a global hiring market—so be prepared

According to the OECD today’s top three “lands of opportunity” are 1) the US 2) Germany and 3) the UK. Meanwhile Indeed data shines a spotlight on where each country gets most of its jobseekers from:

United StatesGermanyUnited Kingdom
1. India1. Austria1. United States
2. Canada2. United Kingdom2. Ireland
3. United Kingdom3. Switzerland3. India

Clearly, language and cultural factors play an important role in where people search, however, the consequences are very different. Germany primarily attracts candidates from countries located nearby, while the far-flung nature of the English-speaking diaspora results in a truly global talent pool willing to cross large distances to work in the US and UK.

What does this mean for employers? As the populations of many advanced economies continue to age, workers from abroad will become increasingly vital additions to the local supply of talent. As migration begins to rise again, businesses are presented with a fresh opportunity to attract the cream of the crop. When employers post jobs, they are competing for global talent, and the winners will be those best prepared to take advantage of this shift.

For more valuable employer insights, download our latest report Labor Market Outlook 2016: Uncovering the Causes of Global Jobs Mismatch.

Download the latest Indeed Report: Labor Market Outlook 2016