Massachusetts Unemployment Rate Stays Steady

The Massachusetts unemployment rate remained at 4.2 percent in June for the third consecutive month, according to data released by the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development and by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

 

Massachusetts added 16,400 jobs in June for a total of 48,100 jobs added in the first half of 2016. Some of the jobs reflect the settlement of the Verizon strike, the state has said. Over the year, from June 2015 to June 2016, the state added 67,300 jobs.

 

In Massachusetts, there were 25,000 fewer unemployed people and 49,600 more employed persons in June 2016 compared to June 2015.

 

The Massachusetts unemployment rate remains lower than the national rate of 4.9 percent.

 

PSG Continues to Rank as Largest Boston-Based Temporary Staffing Firm in Massachusetts

Professional Staffing Group is among the largest temporary staffing firms in Massachusetts, according to the Boston Business Journal. The BBJ ranked PSG #3 on its annual list of the area’s largest temporary staffing firms and the largest firm listed with headquarters in Massachusetts. The rankings are based on the average number of temporary workers supplied daily in Massachusetts. This is the 14th consecutive year that PSG has been named to the list.

PSG President Aaron Green attributed the firm’s growth and success to its practice of collaborating with clients so they are best positioned to make successful hires, including showcasing clients’ opportunities while shortening the hiring process, all without sacrificing the effective screening of candidates.

PSG provides staffing services for clients in need of office support, technical, creative, finance, healthcare and human resources talent in Massachusetts.

By the Numbers: Q2 2016

At this halfway point in 2016, we took a look at key data points from the second quarter. We found:

 

  • The Massachusetts unemployment rate dropped to 4.2 percent in both April and May, the lowest it’s been in 15 years.

 

  • Labor force participation rate in Massachusetts — defined as “the total number of residents 16 or older who worked or were unemployed and actively sought work in the last four weeks” remained at 65 percent.

 

  • The Massachusetts U-6 unemployment number, which counts those working part-time who would rather work full-time and those who have stopped looking for jobs, is 9.6 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

 

  • The national unemployment rate remained below 5 percent, the lowest it’s been since 2008.

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  • However, the pace of adding jobs to the economy has definitely slowed. The BLS announced that only 38,000 jobs were added to the national economy in May, compared with the more than 200,000 jobs that had been added on average each month since January 2013. (Some special factors, such as the Verizon strike, account for some of those jobs.)

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  • In its latest Beige Book report (based on readings from the 12 Fed regional banks that were collected before May 23), the Federal Reserve reported that while employment grew only modestly since its last report, “tight labor markets were widely reported” in most areas and that employers across the country were having a harder time finding workers to fill jobs. Wages were up modestly, especially in areas where workers were in high demand.

 

  • Massachusetts’ economy is the fourth best in the country, according to a recent report from WalletHub. The report uses data from 2013 until 2016 to compare states across three key metrics that include economic activity, economic health and innovation potential. Massachusetts ranked first among states with the largest percentage of fast-growing firms and the percentage of jobs in the high-tech industries. Massachusetts was 19th on the list of states with the lowest unemployment rate (4.4 percent) and ranked 15th in the nation in terms of GDP growth (2.3 percent).

 

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Massachusetts Unemployment Rate Stays at 4.2 Percent

According to the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development, the unemployment rate in Massachusetts held at 4.2 percent in May, the lowest rate Massachusetts has seen in 15 years.

 

Statistics show Massachusetts lost 6,400 jobs in May, which the state is blaming on the Verizon strike. Labor and Workforce Development Secretary Ronald L. Walker, II said: “The labor force continues to grow, with 7,000 more employed residents and 2,000 fewer unemployed residents in May. Eduation and health care, and professional, scientific and business services sectors continue to generate the most jobs in the Commonwealth.”

 

Nationally, the unemployment rate dropped to 4.7 percent in May.

Ask A Recruiter: Tailoring A Resume

Q: I don’t really have to edit and update my resume for every single job I pursue, do I?

 

A: Allow me to be a little tongue in cheek here. Of course not…as long as you don’t mind having fewer interviews.

 

Just keep in mind that the more interested you are in a particular job, the more tailoring your resume to that specific job will help you achieve your goal. If you were a close relative or friend, I’d tell you to tailor your resume to any job you apply. And, it’s not that hard.

 

You know why? Because the employer has already told you what they’re looking for. All you have to do is show them how your experience and skills match what they’re seeking. Take a look back at the job description. Now read it again. That description is going to be your guiding light as you review and edit your resume for the job opening. The first person who reviews your resume often refers to themselves as a “screener”. This means your goal is to get them to not say “no” to your resume.

 

Let’s start at the top. Although we don’t recommend it, many candidates like to include a career summary or their objectives at the top of the page. As we said in our previous post, Why Your Resume Didn’t Get Past the First Round, those statements may be important to you, but they’re not what the screener is looking for. If you have such a paragraph on your resume, it should mirror the job description exactly. If you have 4 out of 6 required skills, you should list those 4 skills and no other additional skills or qualifications.

 

Of course, you can only tailor so much; you are who you are. But you can change how you present yourself and your experience. The best way to do this is to use bullet points that directly correlate to job responsibilities. Highlight your current responsibilities that match those in the open job. Again, it’s not about highlighting what you think are your best attributes, it’s about highlighting the experiences that are most relevant to the job and those that best match what the employer is looking for.

“The best way to do this is to use bullet points that directly correlate to job responsibilities.”

Make your accomplishments stand out by making them easy and obvious for the recruiter to see. We tell candidates to think about “what they did” and turn that into an impactful accomplishment by quantifying it in terms of efficiency or time and costs saved.

 

For example, instead of saying that you are a “proficient user” of Excel, tailor this to better illustrate your proficiency, “as demonstrated by creating 14 spreadsheets per week, maintaining 26 weekly reports, and instituting pivot tables on weekly report in Excel.” Reading that will give the reviewer a very detailed and descriptive understanding of your capabilities.

 

Take it a step further by describing the impact your work had. For example, change “my primary responsibility was creating weekly reports for the executive team” to “By adding pivot tables to Excel, I saved senior management two hours of research time per week.”

 

Another way to change how you present your experience is by tailoring your previous job titles to the current position. Are you interviewing for a role as a marketing assistant? Highlight other positions you held as an ‘assistant,’ even if they weren’t in marketing. Consider tailoring the dates in your employment history so that your most relevant experiences are pushed to the top. We’re not recommending that you falsify any parts of your job history, but that you present your past experiences in a way that most closely matches what the prospective employer is looking for.

 

Again, remember that it’s important to write about accomplishments the recruiter is looking for and that best match the job requirements. Don’t include accomplishments — however great they seem — if they’re not relevant.

 

 

 

Jim Pickering has worked at Professional Staffing Group for 8 years. He started in PSG’s entry-level training program and is now a senior recruiting manager. Jim oversees a team that sources and pre-screens candidates for PSG’s clients.

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Ask A Recruiter: Are Cover Letters Important?

Q: Are cover letters important?

 

A: Yes, cover letters are still very important. They present a terrific opportunity to differentiate and sell yourself as the best candidate for the job opening.

 

Cover letters should always do more than just preview what’s in a resume. Job seekers can summarize and highlight their professional history and strengths, as well as specific soft skills and traits that they wouldn’t include on a resume.

 

Other things that you can include in a cover letter, but not a resume:

  • Talk about why you’re interested in the opportunity or the company – This is the primary purpose of the cover letter and something that the hiring manager will be looking for, especially if it’s not obvious from your resume.
  • Explain ‘red flags’ that may be in your resume – While you should stick to factual information on your resume, the cover letter is a good place to briefly explain things in your work history that may be questionable, such as an employment gap or your location.
  • Mention a personal connection– If you have a personal connection to the job opening, i.e. you know someone who works or worked at the company, and mentioning their name could help you get a foot in the door, the cover letter is a good place to communicate that connection. Of course, it’s advisable to get the contact’s permission first.

 

Some best practices for writing cover letters:

Length – Just like a resume, length is important. A cover letter should be no longer than a half page or 3-4 paragraphs.

 

Keep it fresh – As I mentioned above, the cover letter shouldn’t repeat what’s in your resume. Keep the content focused on why you’re a good fit for the company or position.

 

Address it to a specific person – It’s better to address the cover letter to a proper name than to use a general greeting such as “To Whom it May Concern.” Do your research; call and ask who to address in your cover letter.

 

Personalize it – Use the cover letter to differentiate yourself among other candidates by revealing who you are and what your personality is like. Consider the questions that interviewers like to ask and mention your career goals, aspirations, and/or where you see yourself in the future.

 

Demonstrate knowledge – The cover letter is a good opportunity to show that you’ve researched the company you’re applying to. Incorporate the research into your reasons for being interested in the opportunity or into an explanation of why you’re a good match.

 

Know your audience – While the cover letter presents a good opportunity to communicate your personal interests, it’s also important to match your style with the hiring organization. Different organizations have different workplace priorities and values that can depend on their size, industry, competitive landscape, whether they’re a headquarter location vs. a branch office, etc.

 

Always Proofread – Have someone proofread the letter for you before sending it. Nothing will get you eliminated faster than typos!

 

Gwendolen Andre 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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PSG Sponsors 2016 NEHRA Diversity & Inclusion Scholarships

PSG is proud to once again support the Northeast Human Resources Association (NEHRA)’s annual Diversity & Inclusion Awards Gala, taking place April 28 at the Westin Copley Place in Boston.

 

PSG President Aaron Green spoke with NEHRA CEO Tracy Burns about the Annual D&I Awards Gala and this year’s scholarship recipients.

 

The 2016 PSG Scholarship winner is Maya Smith, who is honored for her desegregation efforts at Boston Latin Academy. Sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, the 2016 Blue Beacon Scholarship winner is Bilal Lafta, an Iraqui refugee who has worked to get funding and resources to Boston schools to support diverse students. PSG is part of the selection committee that chose the Blue Beacon scholarship winner.

 

We encourage you to watch this 10 minute video of Aaron Green and Tracy Burns discussing the amazing contributions of the scholarship winners:

 

 

Ask A Recruiter: Why Your Resume Didn’t Get Past the First Round

Q: I haven’t been called for an interview for the past few jobs I’ve applied to. What am I doing wrong?

 

A: A decade ago, job seekers used resumes to get their foot in the door for an interview. However, in today’s job market, resumes are used to screen candidates out. Even if you’re qualified for an interview, your resume could prevent you from getting to that step, so it’s important that you have a bulletproof resume to avoid getting screened out. Here’s how it works: a ‘screener,’ who could be a human or could be automated software, quickly scans your resume and gauges whether it’s worthy to go to the next round where it will be given more careful consideration and where you’ll perhaps be invited in for an interview.

 

Screeners spend less than one minute looking over your resume so it’s important to show them your best attributes right away and not waste their time. Don’t bury your most essential or biggest accomplishment – put it right at the top of your resume. For example, if you’re a recent college graduate, your degree will likely be your biggest qualification. If you’ve worked in a certain industry or in a certain role for a few years, summarize that as your biggest qualification. Don’t waste important ‘real estate’ on your resume by putting a summary or your objectives at the top of the page. While those statements may be important to you, they’re not what the screener is looking for.

 

Here are other things that screeners look for:

 

A resume that’s easy to read – Think about it: the screener has a huge stack of resumes and not much time – are they going to want to dig in to a multi-page resume with cramped type? No. They want to see a sleek, easy-to-scan, one page document that highlights the candidate’s most important attributes.

 

Location – From the screener’s perspective, seeing that a candidate lives out of state or far from the job site is a red flag. They might assume that the candidate will need to relocate or want to negotiate commuting. While a resume may otherwise be very strong, if the screener has an abundance of candidates and needs to knock some out of contention, resumes that point out a long-distance address could go to the bottom of the pile. If you’re in this situation, try listing generic contact information (such as a gmail account) or putting your contact information at the bottom of the page.

 

Education–It’s not always the case that just because you have information to share, it should be included on your resume and the Education category is a good example. First, consider which is stronger – your education or your work experience – and put the stronger attribute at the top of your resume. If you’ve been working for a few years, it doesn’t make sense to highlight non-essential education information like the high school you went to or a GPA that isn’t very strong (3.8 or higher). If you are a new graduate and want to put the spotlight on your degree, it’s fine to highlight leadership experience from school or classes that are relative to your industry or area of work, but don’t highlight unimportant parts of your education.

 

 

Requirements – Some companies, especially large organizations, use tracking systems that pre-screen resumes. In this situation, it’s important that your resume contain the keywords that the software will be looking for. These keywords are taken from the job description, often they will be listed as “requirements” in the job description. It’s important to incorporate these keywords as often as possible in your resume – as long as they’re applicable, of course.

 

Hobbies & interests – While talking about a unique hobby could help a candidate appear to be well-rounded or break the ice in an interview, listing that hobby on a resume comes across as a waste of space. Screeners would rather see resumes that list skills, certifications and/or awards instead.

 

Spacing & formatting – One of the first pieces of advice resume writers receive is to triple check that there are no grammar mistakes and typos. Here is a second piece of advice: make sure your resume is formatted correctly throughout, that the font and size are uniform, and that everything is bolded and italicized that should be.

 

 

Jim Pickering has worked at Professional Staffing Group for 8 years. He started in PSG’s entry-level training program and is now a senior recruiting manager. Jim oversees a team that sources and pre-screens candidates for PSG’s clients.

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Massachusetts Unemployment Rate Drops to 4.4 Percent

The Massachusetts unemployment dropped to 4.4 percent in March, down from 4.5 percent in February, according to the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development.

 

According to the state, there are 155,800 unemployed residents in Massachusetts, out of a labor force of nearly 3.6 million Massachusetts residents.

 

The state added 6,900 jobs last month, with the largest gains occurring in the construction industry, according to preliminary job estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

 

Nationally the unemployment rate is 5 percent.

Q1 2016: a look at the numbers

The first quarter of 2016 is behind us and we took a look at key data points from this period to illustrate the state of our jobs market.

 

We found that:

 

 

  • For the first time in eight years, the national unemployment rate fell below 5 percent. Screen Shot 2016-03-23 at 6.05.56 PMThis is the lowest rate since 2008 and markedly improved from a high of 10 percent in 2009.

 

  • Although employers across the nation added 242,000 jobs to the U.S. economy in February, job growth in Massachusetts has slowed; revised numbers now show that job growth peaked in 2014 at 2.4 percent.

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  • After strong growth in 2015, the rate of wage increases has slowed so far in 2016 with a yearly growth in average hourly earnings at 2.2 percent, only slightly ahead of the inflation rate.

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  • The overall share of Americans in the labor force ticked up to 62.9 percent.

 

 

  • Temporary help employment showed little change from January to February (-0.3%), but it was 3.0% higher in February 2016 than in February 2015, according to seasonally adjusted data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Year-to-year staffing job growth averaged 3.8% per month over the past 12 months.