American workers have more leverage than ever.
According to new data the Bureau of Labor Statistics published Wednesday, there were 11.3 million open jobs at the end of January.
Less than seven million people were actively looking for work during the same period.
This provides leverage for job seekers while making it harder for businesses to hire for open positions.
"As an employer, you're going to have to talk to your people and figure out what they want," said Julie Bauke, a career advisor and president of The Bauke Group. "Employers are going to have to develop you as a professional and a human to keep you. We are all our own unique snowflakes in the market."
Today's job seekers value incentives beyond money as they look for a new job.
A 1% pay increase is far more likely to entice baby boomers than millennials or Gen X'ers, according to recent data from the Federal Reserve of Atlanta.
"There have been studies for decades that show people don't value money as highly on their list as they do flexibility," Bauke said, "and the ability to manage their lives."
It presents a unique problem for hiring managers, many of whom are boomers.
As pay increases fail to lure workers, some turn to incentives like four-day work weeks or fully remote positions.
"If your solution is to throw money, then you're going to be standing there wondering what the heck's going on," Bauke said. "Employers have to be willing to listen and do things differently, and be willing to try things that may or may not work."
Remote positions, in particular, are an attractive carrot for job seekers.
ZipRecruiter reports a remote job posting will receive three times as many applications as an in-person job.
"It gives people the opportunity to get up when they want, do some work, go work out, have breakfast with the kids, and get back to work," Bauke said. "It takes the commute time off the table, and it gives people the opportunity to truly manage their lives."
Bauke said anyone who is considering a career change should first ask themselves what they value.
Some people are searching for a hybrid work arrangement and a better work-life balance. Others are seeking a professionally challenging environment.
"To start a successful job search, you have to get very self-aware and think about, 'What's my next move?'" Bauke said. "What am I going to more of? What am I going to do less of? What do I never hope to do again?"
Bauke said, given the worker crunch, this is a solid time for people to consider a career change, even if they don't feel qualified for the job.
"Big, impressive employers are saying they're going to look beyond whether you have a four-year degree, and they might have some training programs internally if you pass an entry-level skills test," Bauke said. "Good old supply and demand are working on the market in a really great way for the average person. I think that is spectacular."