September Unemployment Rate Remains the Same, 103,000 Jobs Added to Economy

October 7th, 2011

The U.S. Department of Labor released its September jobs numbers today and announced that 103,000 jobs were added to the economy last month and that the nation’s unemployment rate remains at 9.1%.  While the report was clearly better than feared, it also showed the economy is not gaining much momentum.  Read more about it here.  Historically, Massachusetts has fared better than the rest of the nation and has experienced a lower unemployment rate each month during the past couple of years.  We’ll see if that trend continues.

PSG Named to Best of Staffing List for Second Consecutive Year

October 3rd, 2011

PSG is pleased to be recognized on the 2011 Best of Staffing Talent list by Inavero and CareerBuilder.  The 2011 Best of Staffing™ Talent Award is the nation’s only talent satisfaction award that recognizes exceptional talent service within the staffing and recruiting industry.  PSG has always prided itself on placing great candidates in great jobs and now we have the proof!  In an independent survey of its candidates, Professional Staffing Group received satisfaction ratings that placed it in the top one percent of all firms in the country.  PSG is the only Massachusetts staffing firm to make the list two years in a row, for having both the best Talent and the best Client satisfaction ratings. Even more importantly, we are now able to use the feedback we received to continue to provide you with qualified talent who best fit and represent your company.

Excluding Unemployed Candidates is a Bad Recruitment Strategy

by Aaron Green

I feel the need to comment on a recent recruiting trend, which is that an increasing number of companies are only interested in hiring people who already have a job. My feeling is that this strategy is misguided and results in missed opportunities for top talent.

Let’s start by looking at the reasons why companies might take this approach. In general there are two reasons why companies exclude unemployed candidates:

  1. Companies believe that most unemployed candidates are not working because they are less qualified than employed candidates.  Making this blanket assumption is simply off-base. While some candidates may be less qualified, many are highly qualified. There are many reasons why people end up unemployed that have nothing to do with the person’s talent, work ethic, and overall value as an employee.
  2. Efficiency: Since there are so many people unemployed, recruiters get bombarded with applicants for job openings. Screening out unemployed applicants makes the process more efficient.

While I’ll agree taking this approach might make the hiring process more efficient, it does not make it more effective. This approach is a short cut, and there is a cost to this short cut; excluding unemployed applicants potentially eliminates top talent from consideration. On certain searches you might be able to get away with the short cut approach, but I would suggest you resist the temptation. Instead raise your standards and look at a wider candidate pool which includes unemployed applicants.

I’ll provide two more reasons why considering unemployed applicants is beneficial:

  1. The Federal government has been making it more enticing for employers to hire unemployed workers. A 2010 tax break just took effect stating that employers who hire an unemployed worker are exempted from paying that worker’s FICA (social security) contributions for the rest of the 2010 calendar year. Firms that hire unemployed workers and keep them employed for one calendar year are also eligible for an additional $1,000 credit.
  2. Unemployed top talent may be more willing and eager to start work and come with fewer strings attached than someone who has to leave their current employer. If you are looking to move quickly to fill a role, you will likely end up saving time by finding a qualified applicant who may be available to start sooner and with less reservation.

While it’s not illegal for recruiters or hiring managers to require candidates to be currently employed, it is an unproductive practice for employers interested in hiring the very best talent available.

Aaron Green is founder and president of Boston-based Professional Staffing Group and PSG Global Solutions. He is also the vice chairman of the American Staffing Association. He can be reached at or (617) 250-1000.

This article was originally posted on the On Staffing HR Column on

Retention: Employees’ Plans and Employers’ Views Do Not Connect

by Aaron Green

It is official: the recession has receded and Massachusetts employers are starting to hire again. Last week, Boston Globe writer Robert Gavin reported on a forecast prepared by Northeastern University economist Alan Clayton-Matthews which estimates that Massachusetts added more than 12,000 jobs in the first quarter of this year and predicts that 200,000 Massachusetts jobs will be created in the next five years.

In addition, I have some first-hand information that employers are hiring. My company, Professional Staffing Group (PSG), regularly surveys our Massachusetts clients, and our latest survey compiled in April showed that almost half of employers expect to increase staff in the next 12 months. Looking back to PSG’s Q4 survey, when companies were asked when they expected staffing levels to increase, the most common response was “unknown.” In the April survey, only 8% responded “unknown” in regard to hiring plans for the next quarter; contrasting these responses tells me that employers are becoming more confident regarding hiring.

Employers are not very worried about retention

The recent PSG survey told us that employers aren’t expressing great concern about retention and employee engagement issues. Only 12% of employers view retaining top talent as a significant problem, and 19% of employers view employee engagement as a significant problem.

Employers are not spending money on HR programs related to retention

Our survey also asked employers whether they anticipated increased spending in areas such as reimbursement for continuing education, professional certification, training and development, travel, or tradeshow or seminar attendance. In all HR areas except for one, employers don’t expect to spend any more money than they did in last year (2009 was a year when most employers cut spending). Internal training and development stands out as the only area in which substantially more employers expect to increase spending than those expecting to decrease spending (3 to 1 ratio). The fact that employers do not expect to spend much in this regard will not help retention.

Employees plan to make career changes

Last August, during the height of the recession, a survey of 1,000 employees by found that more than half of employees polled planned to make a career change or go back to school when the economy recovered.

The Disconnect

If Massachusetts is going to be adding jobs as forecasted by Alan Clayton-Matthews and as represented by PSG’s clients who responded to our survey, where are the employees going to come from to staff these new positions? Sure, unemployment will decrease but that won’t cover the gap. Even now certain in-demand skill sets are in short supply. It is simply unrealistic to believe that a substantial number of jobs will be created in the local area and also believe that retention will not be impacted.

A call to action for employers

Think again about the CareerBuilder survey result that more than half of employees polled plan to make a career change or go back to school when the economy recovers. What would you do if half your employees left their jobs? It is a scary thought. Hopefully your company has already taken steps to build or maintain employee loyalty (see my article on building employee loyalty during a recession). Now is the time to evaluate your programs and policies to ensure you are doing all you can to retain your employees.

Aaron Green is founder and president of Boston-based Professional Staffing Group and PSG Global Solutions. He is also the vice chairman of the American Staffing Association. He can be reached at or (617) 250-1000.

This article was originally posted on the On Staffing HR Column on

Staffing Firms See Demand Rise for Contract Workers

Originally posted in Boston Business Journal – by Keith Regan

Locally and nationally, businesses are hiring more contract labor as they adjust their workforces to keep pace with a still-uncertain economy, a trend that has long been a precursor to more widespread employment growth.

At Professional Staffing Group in Boston, the number of workers on assignments is up 50 percent over the past eight months, said company President Aaron Green. “Over the past couple months, we have started to see the demand spreading to smaller-sized companies,” he said. “But I still wouldn’t call the market robust.”