U.S. Unemployment Rate Falls Below 5 Percent

For the first time in eight years, the national unemployment rate fell below 5 percent.

 

In January, jobless claims fell to 4.9 percent, the lowest rate since 2008 and markedly improved from a high of 10 percent in 2009.

 

Although job growth is slowing, growth in wages is starting to pick up momentum. Average hourly earnings increased 2.5 percent in January compared to a year ago.

 

Locally, the unemployment rate in Massachusetts is 4.7 percent.

Ask A Recruiter: Staying Organized During Your Job Search

 

Q: What are some tips for staying organized during my job search?

 

A: Recruiters love this question because the more organized you are, the more effective your job search will be!

 

Tracking your activity will help you see what actions are most effective. It will also help you avoid being caught off guard and making mistakes. (There’s really nothing more awkward than an employer or recruiter calling a candidate who doesn’t remember applying for their job.)

 

To start getting organized, I recommend these steps:

 

Create an organized workspace – While it may seem great that you can apply for jobs on your phone while walking to work, it’s really not an organized way to do so. I recommend identifying a physical place where you can be productive in your job search. This place could be a home office, a place in the library, or a spot on the counter in your kitchen. It should have access to the basics, like a computer with Internet access, a printer to print your resume, a calendar or schedule, and a folder or file to keep important documents.

 

Make a commitment – Dedicate time each day or each week to your job search and stick to it. Many successful job seekers treat looking for a job as if it’s their job.

 

Set goals – It can be hard to stay motivated if you’re facing rejection or a slow search process. Setting and reaching goals can help you feel a sense of achievement and keep your momentum going. Achievable goals include scheduling in-person networking opportunities, researching new companies, submitting applications, etc.

 

Be strategic – Identify the top companies you’d like to work for and then research the opportunities at each. You can also research which recruiting firms work for those companies and when each will be holding job fairs.

 

Be image conscious – Your best efforts will come to naught if you don’t have an updated and optimized resume and if your online presence isn’t professional.

 

Track your efforts – Whether you use a notebook, a traditional spreadsheet, or a mobile app, it’s important to track your efforts. Many of the small steps that you take in your job search – e.g. following up, sending thank you notes or emails, connecting on LinkedIn – can become important factors in the hiring process. Your tracking efforts should include:

  • the date you apply for the job
  • the name of the position and the job number if there is one
  • the name of the organization
  • the application deadline
  • a date to follow up
  • the name of the recruiter and their contact information
  • notes and reflections on the interview, including what questions were asked
  • whether thank you note or email was sent
  • strategies for networking, e.g. following on LinkedIn, meeting at an upcoming event

 

We created an easy-to-use template for tracking your job search efforts, which you can download by clicking on the image below:

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There are also plenty of calendar and project management apps, like those offered by Trello, that can help you stay organized.

 

Gwendolen Knott is a Senior Group Manager on the Major Accounts Division at Professional Staffing Group. She manages four teams that work with a variety of clients within the higher education and healthcare industries.

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Massachusetts Unemployment Rate Holds at 4.7 percent

Massachusetts’ unemployment rate remained at 4.7 percent in December, according to a report today from the State’s Executive Office of Labor and Development. Massachusetts added 7,100 jobs in December for a total of 73,800 over the past year.

 

December’s job gains occurred in the Education and Health Services; Professional, Scientific, and Business Services; Information; Construction; Manufacturing; Financial Activities; and ‘Other Services’ sectors.

 

Nationally, the unemployment rate is 5 percent.

Predictions for Boston Hiring Trends in 2016

 

PSG President Aaron Green sees some interesting trends emerging around hiring job candidates in the Boston area this year.

 

“Hiring has become a painful experience,” Green says. “It’s painful for employers because there’s a shortage of qualified candidates for most open positions and because HR departments are stretched pretty thin.”

 

Green is referring to the low average unemployment rate in Massachusetts that has been below 5 percent since last April. As hiring picks up in certain sectors – such as technology and healthcare – organizations like hospitals and universities are looking for candidates with specific talents and skill sets, like workers who can support new initiatives in online courses.

 

At the same time, organizations are more mindful of having their HR department be the “right” size. That means ensuring there are enough resources to handle all the functions expected of HR, while staying flexible to adapt to changes in the economy – a lesson many learned the hard way during the last recession.

 

For many mid- and large-size companies this means considering outsourcing some parts of the recruiting process. PSG is seeing an uptick in clients using its Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) services. In some cases, clients outsource some aspects of the recruiting process, such as sourcing and screening candidates, so their internal HR team can focus on more strategic functions, like interviewing and onboarding new hires.

 

Green says the hiring process is also painful for job seekers. “It’s almost like hazing,” he says. He believes this will change, starting in 2016.

 

“Economics, combined with the availability of information online, is forcing businesses to look at the candidate experience in new ways,” says Green.

 

Ratings systems that leverage digital data – such as the star system on Glassdoor and use of the short survey that quantifies a Net Promoter Score (NPS) – are driving change and helping the recruiting process evolve.

 

“PSG will be rolling out a new NPS for candidates applying for internal staff positions,” explains Green. “For many years we’ve conducted NPS surveys with candidates we meet and consider for placement with clients; and the data from those surveys has informed our recruiting and interviewing processes. Now we’re applying that experience, along with research we’re currently conducting – including feedback from candidates we hired as well as those we didn’t – to help us build a stronger candidate experience all-around.”

 

Retailers have long lived under the adage that “the customer is always right,” which comes from a desire to make sure customers have a positive experience with their brand. Now many employers are applying that methodology to the hiring experience. They’re treating candidates like customers and using new tactics to ensure that even candidates who don’t get hired come away with a positive experience of the process and, subsequently, the brand.

 

Another local hiring trend is how quickly compensation is changing. Green says that aggressive recruiting by private equity and venture funded companies is partly to blame. Unlike traditional businesses that are run for long-term profitability, PE and VC funded firms can offer outrageous compensation packages for short-term employment periods. This practice forces wages across the local economy to rise and compensation plans that were created even one year ago are now out of date. On the other end of the spectrum, increases in Massachusetts’ minimum wage  are also helping to accelerate the changes in compensation.

 

Another big trend in recruiting and hiring is matching candidates with an organization’s culture to increase the odds of making a successful hire. When it comes to culture fit, Google is championing the idea. In his book Work Rules! Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead, Google’s Head of People Operations Laszlo Bock explains that “culture underpins everything we do at Google.” Bock offers several tips for interviewing for culture fit, including knowing where to find the type of workers you’re looking for, using “work tests” in which candidates are gauged for their reactions in typical work situations, and testing candidates against the traits that are most highly valued at your organization.

 

In the future, Green foresees a hiring process that’s built around a candidate’s needs, rather than a company’s. While this likely won’t come to fruition in 2016, our use of digital data and the examples of hiring practices at companies like Google are showing that it’s possible.

 

In 2016, companies are better than ever at hiring, but it’s still a painful experience. Fortunately, a focus on improving the candidate experience and hiring for culture fit can help Boston organizations improve the process.Aaron Green 0904 22

 

Ask A Recruiter: Using Backdoor References

Q: I have an interview coming up and want to find out more about the company, but there’s not a lot of information about them online.

 

A: It’s commendable that you want to research and find out more about the company you’re meeting with. Hiring managers like to see candidates who have done their homework, as it demonstrates your interest in finding a job and an employer that is the right fit for you.

 

When looking for additional information, keep an eye out for disconfirming information and different perspectives. In other words, don’t stop just because you find information that confirms your assumptions and predispositions about the company. In the end, if your research yields contradictory information, it will give you more to talk about in the interview!

 

If you’ve exhausted publicly available resources, like the company’s web site and social media pages (e.g. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.), and other pages like Glassdoor, and you have tried finding articles or other links via Google searches, it may be time to consider backdoor references.

 

A backdoor reference refers to finding information via a secondary or less publicly known method. One way to do this would be to find someone in your network that works at the company you’re looking into.

 

A good way to start is to search LinkedIn for anyone in your network that’s affiliated with the company or is connected to someone else who’s at the company.

 

Once you find a connection, you’ll want to make the most of your opportunity to gather insight on what it’s like to work at the company.

 

A questioning tactic that has become popular lately is to ask “stay” questions, as in “What makes you stay in this position/at this company?” Other stay interview questions cover what’s good and bad about the employee’s job, like these from Monster.com:

  • What about your job makes you want jump out of bed?
  • What about your job makes you want to hit the snooze button?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • What’s your dream job?
  • If you changed your role completely, what would you miss the most?
  • If you won the lottery and didn’t have to work, what would you miss?
  • What did you love in your last position that you’re not doing now?
  • What makes for a great day at work?
  • If you had a magic wand, what would be the one thing you would change about your work, your role and your responsibilities?
  • What do you think about on your way to work?
  • What’s bothering you most about your job?

 

If your contact isn’t working in the department or role that you’re interested in, ask them if they can put you in touch with someone who works in a similar role. This will help you get a sense of the role’s responsibilities and the team’s culture.

 

Of course, you’ll want to practice discretion when pursuing backdoor references, which is why it’s important to look for personal connections and contacts you know to be trustworthy. Keep your questions professional – you don’t want to be perceived as negative or prying for gossip.

 

 

As PSG’s internal HR Manager, Heather is a certified Professional in HR and oversees the team that brings talent into the organization.  She also oversees PSG’s training programs and is a member of the MSA Legislative Committee as well as NEHRA’s Diversity Scholarship and Conference Planning Committees.

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2015 ‘By the Numbers’ – A Look at the Year in Review

As 2015 comes to a close, we pulled key data points to illustrate the state of our jobs market.

 

We found that:

 

 

 

  • The BLS released its Occupational Outlook handbook which predicts that jobs in healthcare and social assistance, professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, and construction will see growth over the next several years, while jobs in manufacturing and federal government will decrease.

 

  • Employers estimate wages will increase by an average of 3 percent in 2016, compared with the average annual increase of 2 percent that we’ve seen for the past five years, according to this Bloomberg article.

 

  • Private-industry employers in New England spend an average of $37.64 per hour worked on employee compensation, compared to the national average of $31.53 per hour worked. Wages and salaries accounted for 70.5 percent of New England employers’ total compensation costs, while benefits accounted for 29.5 percent.

 

  • Nearly half (49 percent) of U.S. employers continue to seek workers with skills in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and 55 percent said finding the right talent remains a challenge, according to a recent quarterly survey.

Massachusetts Unemployment Rate Rises Slightly

The Massachusetts unemployment rate rose slightly – to 4.7 percent in November from 4.6 percent the previous two months, according to the State Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development.

 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall number of jobs in Massachusetts grew by 5,900 in November and has grown by 67,700 so far this year, exceeding the total number of new jobs added to the economy in all of 2014.

 

Nationally, the unemployment rate is 5 percent.

End-of-Year Performance Reviews

The traditional end-of-year performance review is getting a new look from employers.

In today’s jobs market where employers are working hard to keep employees engaged, the performance review is taking on new importance as a retention and communication vehicle. In this recent Fast Company article, PSG Manager Greg Menzone offers timely advice for preparing for end-of-year performance reviews.

“Being proactive and planning ahead is the best way to maximize the benefits of your yearly performance review.”

 

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PSG Recognized in Banker & Tradesman’s BEST Issue

Banker & Tradesman, a weekly publication covering financial services and real estate in Massachusetts, has released the results of its eighth annual Banker & Tradesman readers’ poll in which readers cast their votes for the best providers of services and goods in the banking and real estate professions. PSG is honored to be named among the top three providers in the Temp Agency category.

 

More than 13,000 votes were cast in the annual survey. Results are published in the October 19 issue of Banker & Tradesman and online at www.bankerandtradesman.com. Recipients will also be honored at the B&T BEST cocktail reception, held October 21 at the Omni Parker House in Boston.

 

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Massachusetts Unemployment Drops to 4.6 Percent in September

Massachusetts reported a mixed picture on jobs for September: the state unemployment rate dropped to 4.6 percent, despite losing 7,100 jobs.

 

According to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, Massachusetts’ unemployment rate dropped 0.1 percent between August and September. The current rate of 4.6 percent is down from 6 percent in September of 2014. Nationally, the unemployment rate is 5.1 percent.

 

Job losses were felt in the education and health services sector (estimated 4,700 jobs lost) and trade, transportation, and utilities (estimated 3,000 jobs lost). Construction lost a seasonally-adjusted 2,000 jobs and manufacturing businesses cut 1,700 jobs.