City continues to add new job opportunities each month, but regional job seekers say it has a way to go before Philly rivals other East Coast cities
KING OF PRUSSIA, PA—Health care and technology companies are the primary targets for job-seekers in the Delaware Valley, according to a recent survey by Nexxt, a recruitment media company, exploring what Greater Philadelphia job seekers are looking for in their next career.
Survey results reveal “culture” and “affordability” are the primary benefits of working in the region, but the area struggles to be seen as a major hub in comparison to larger East Coast cities, according to Joe Weinlink, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Nexxt, tells SmartCEO.com. It’s the first of a series of regional surveys by Nexxt about the jobs environment across the country.
“There are just so many great things happening in Philadelphia, has that changed the perception of the area as a region that people would want to work in,” Weinlink says. “That’s really what drove it, was to see how people feel about this region from a work and a professional standpoint.”
Despite the Delaware Valley’s economic progress, “there are still a lot of people, natives and transplants, who live in envy of the larger metropolitan regions to the north and south,” he says.
Natives and transplants almost uniformly had the same complaints about the Philadelphia market, including a lack of “exciting” companies to work for, fewer job opportunities, leading many respondents to believe they would need to move out of the market to achieve those professional objectives.
Despite a concentration of award-winning talent in advertising and marketing here in Philadelphia, Weinlink points out, larger companies often reach out to New York-based firms for their advertising needs.
“That sort of feeling perpetuates,” he said. “Even though we’ve got large, exciting companies, I don’t know if people from Philadelphia even realize the large companies that are headquartered here.”
You can listen to an extended version of our interview with Joe Weinlink in the audio player below.
Part of the challenge is that many of the larger companies in Philadelphia are more-traditional, conservative companies in such industries as insurance and pharmaceuticals, Weinlink said. These companies tend to hire people with specific experience, he adds.
Weinlink thinks efforts by forward-thinking companies like Comcast are helping, with the move to Center City into large new office towers.
Nexxt’s survey of more than 600 women and men in the Delaware Valley indicated that healthcare and technology industries are attracting the most job seekers in the area, with 25 percent of respondents pursuing opportunities in healthcare and 17 percent in technology.
While searching for new career opportunities, Greater Philadelphia’s talent pool places the most value on “competitive pay,” followed by a “positive work environment” and “length of commute”. When it comes to accepting an offer, applicants consider salary first and foremost (46 percent), followed by the company reputation (16 percent) and the work hours and schedule (15 percent) the role would require.
A positive sign for future growth is the increasing number of younger job seekers who find the region’s affordability appealing.
Nearly 70 percent of respondents 35 years old or younger say the low cost of living in comparison to other cities like Boston, New York City, and Washington, D.C. affected their decision to work and live in the Philadelphia region. The same respondents would accept earning less to live in a smaller, more affordable city (60 percent), noting that area employer’s competitive pay offerings are the second biggest benefit to working in Philadelphia.
Even with the strong appeal of a major city with a low cost of living, Philadelphia’s job market reputation suffers in comparison to other metropolitan areas on the East Coast. 63 percent of survey takers do not feel there are the same long-term career opportunities when compared to Boston, New York City, and Washington, D.C. Specifically, respondents felt Philadelphia has:
- fewer opportunities in their specific job field (58 percent)
- more competition in their specific job field (63 percent)
- fewer companies to work for (62 percent)
- fewer exciting companies to work for (63 percent)
- fewer opportunities for job seekers to learn and grow in their career field (56 percent)
“Philly does have some great businesses, and added more than 46,000 jobs over the course of last year, but we need to do a better job of promoting ourselves and the opportunities right here,” Weinlick says. “Of course, if Philadelphia can seriously compete and win the new Amazon headquarters, that would give us an immediate shot in the arm.”
Although results show Philadelphia’s job market eclipsed by neighboring metropolitan areas, local employers shouldn’t worry too much about current employees flocking to other cities. Nearly half of currently employed survey takers from the area (46 percent) plan to continue working in the region until retirement.
Additional findings from the Nexxt survey
- 35 percent of Philadelphia job seekers stay in the area for non-work related reasons – a significant number of respondents keep working in the area because of their proximity to family, friends, and loved ones.
- Location is key for Philadelphia employees – 28 percent of survey takers say having an office close to a variety of great locations and activity options is the top benefit of working in the region.
- The majority of Philadelphia transplants come from other big cities – Survey takers that relocated to Philly tended to be from New York City (16 percent), Washington, D.C. (5 percent), and Los Angeles (4 percent).
CORRECTION, 11/09/2017, 12:02 p.m.: Because of incorrect information provided to SmartCEO.com, an earlier version of this article quoted Joe Weinlink saying that Philadelphia is adding 100,000 jobs every month. The correct figure is that 46,000 jobs were added over the last year. The quote has been updated to reflect the correct number.