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Technical Jobs

Unemployment Rate Drops to 5.4%; Special Recruiting Training Needed!

Friday, May 8th, 2015

Recruiting Training Needed!The Labor Department reported this morning that U.S. companies started hiring again last month. This prompted the jobless rate to fall as the economy snapped back from a brutal winter. Nonfarm payrolls grew a seasonally adjusted 223,000 in April after a weak March in which only 85,000 jobs were added. As a result, the unemployment rate dropped .1% to 5.4% in April. The decline mirrored several positive events including: a) the labor force grew as more Americans entered the job search and b) the number of Americans finding work increased. As a result, the jobless rate is moving closer to the Federal Reserve’s expectation of “full” employment, which it pegs between 5% and 5.2%.

A more comprehensive measure of unemployment, which includes both Americans involuntarily working part-time jobs and those who have given up looking for work, fell from 10.9% to 10.8% in April.

Moreover, jobs creation was broad based across several industries. Professional and business services added 62,000 jobs. Health-care payrolls grew by 45,000. Construction also added 45,000. Manufacturing and retail jobs changed little. The mining sector, covering energy industries, fell by 15,000.

Many of our executive recruitment firm’s clients also believe that the first quarter downturn was only temporary and the economy will rebound this spring, as it did last year after a first-quarter contraction. Anecdotally, over the last few months, most of my technical recruiting colleagues have shared that top-notch technical talent is becoming more and more scarce. This is due to a lot more demand than supply among the Research & Development (R&D), engineering, scientific, Information Technology (IT), technical and manufacturing areas that we concentrate on as an executive recruitment firm. This has resulted in many R&D, engineering and scientific job positions going unfilled for longer periods of time and in turn reducing the productivity of many departments!

As a result, we recommend that companies greatly improve their recruiting prowess. Unfortunately, most human resource departments have been cut back during the recession. Furthermore, those remaining personnel professionals have been required to handle a lot more tasks. This has brutally hampered many companies’ recruiting efforts. As a result, many R&D, engineering, scientific, technical, IT and manufacturing positions have gone unfilled for longer periods of time. In turn, this has severely reduced many firms’ productivity.

That is why we have recently launched our training division. The primary focus of our new practice is teaching hiring managers the Best Worldwide Practices To Attract And Retain Talent. One aspect of this is training internal hiring managers to be better recruiters, which in turn lowers your Cost Per Hire! One of the tools we use for this training is our 12 Commandments of Recruiting outlined which are some of our best practices learned since opening our doors over 25 years ago on July 14, 1989.

During this process we follow 4 steps:

a) Dividing hiring managers into small work groups of 7-8

b) Sequentially discussing each of the 12 Commandments, including customizing them to the particular needs of the group and overseeing each group member as they attempt to actuate the commandment within the group setting.

c) Progressing to the next commandment and following the same procedure.

d) Ending with a general question and answer session to ensure that each attendee has mastered all 12 Commandments.

At the end of the process most of our clients have exponentially increased their technical recruiting abilities!

What are your findings?

Better Education Needed To Improve Job Skills And Increase Wages!

Friday, May 1st, 2015

Better EducationThough our executive search firm is based in Chicago, we regularly provide executive recruitment worldwide. As a result, many executive recruitment teams, such as Houston’s Chevron Phillips Chemical (a joint venture between energy giants Chevron Corp. and Phillips 66) call us to provide both technical recruitment and technical recruiting advice on best practices to attract key talent.

Such companies are eager to fill thousands of jobs with starting salaries up to $100,000. Unfortunately, they cannot find enough qualified candidates with the depth and breath of skills they seek. This is an ongoing problem that I shared previously 464 Scare Jobs whereby there continues to be many high paying jobs available across the nation. Unfortunately, countless workers are not prepared for these jobs due to the shortcomings of their previous educational training.

This problem is particularly acute in Houston, which is the 5th largest metro area in the U.S. As I also wrote previously a) MAJOR ROLE FOR GOVERNMENT: IMPROVING STEM Education, Training and Retraining! and b) Comedic Education Increases Future R&D many workers lack key STEM skills necessary to succeed. As a result, they cannot easily perform essential R&D, engineering, scientific, technical, IT and manufacturing tasks needed in today’s job market.

As a result, many companies across the nation in general and in the Houston area in specific are developing their own internal training programs to fill in the skill gaps left by local high schools and colleges. This was prompted by the lack of skills of available job candidates. For example, Chevron Phillips is taking an active role in workforce training and development. Rather than standing still and accepting the current educational malaise, they are engaging in a wide range of training programs to fill these skills gaps. This includes a scholarship program that covers community college tuition and pays interns around $18 per hour to work at their facilities while pursuing their degrees.

Such efforts are needed, especially in the Houston area where about 60,000 middle-skilled jobs will be created in the petrochemical and construction fields over the next 3 years as plants expand and older workers retire, according to a study by the Greater Houston Partnership. This should be something local schools should be providing, but two of the problems are:

  1. Many local high schools are channeling students towards four-year university degrees instead of technical trade schools.
  2. Many schools are not effective in teaching key STEM skills needed in technical careers.

Therefore, in the mean time, progressive companies like Chevron Phillips are taking the initiative and developing training programs that target skill gaps.

Do you know of any similar companies providing such job training to improve skills gaps?

Which Jobs Figures Are Correct: Jobless Claims OR Unemployment Numbers?

Friday, April 3rd, 2015

The Labor Department reported this morning that U.S. jobs creation slowed in March to its feeblest pace in more than a year. They said that

Unemployment Rate 2015Nonfarm payrolls rose by a seasonally adjusted 126,000 jobs in March, which was its smallest gain since December 2013. They also said that the unemployment rate remained unchanged in March at 5.5%.

However, as I shared in my last post “Women and Minority Hiring Makes Good Business Sense! their figures from last week showed that fewer people sought unemployment benefits, which is a major indicator of accelerating jobs creation! Included were: a) weekly applications for jobless aid falling 9,000 last week to a seasonally adjusted 282,000 b) the four-week average of jobless claims falling 7,750 to 297,000 and c) over the past 12 months, that average has tumbling about 7 percent!

Additionally, our executive recruiting firm has observed anecdotally over the past five months that hiring has accelerated for many staff-level R&D, scientific, engineering, technical, IT and manufacturing positions. Moreover, many technical recruiting, engineering recruiting, R&D recruiting, scientific recruiting, IT recruiting and manufacturing recruiting firms that we recently polled also shared this view.

So which figures are most accurate? There appears to be a major disconnect among jobs figures at the Labor Department.

What are your thoughts?

Women and Minority Hiring Makes Good Business Sense!

Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

recruit women and minorities

According to last week’s figures from the Labor Department, fewer people sought unemployment benefits. Weekly applications for jobless aid fell 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 282,000. Additionally, the four-week average of jobless claims fell 7,750 to 297,000. Furthermore, over the past 12 months, that average has tumbled about 7 percent!

This confirms what my executive recruiting firm has observed anecdotally over the past five months. In particular, we have noticed that hiring has accelerated for many staff-level R&D, scientific, engineering, technical, IT and manufacturing positions. Additionally, many technical recruiting, engineering recruiting, R&D recruiting, scientific recruiting, IT recruiting and manufacturing recruiting firms that we polled recently share this view. Though this trend has not yet extrapolated into substantially increased managerial hiring, the demand for excellent, technical, individual level contributors far exceeds the supply. That is why our executive recruitment firm is constantly urging our clients to increase their hiring of women and minorities.

Women and minorities now make up a greater share of the U.S. workforce according to a recent report by CareerBuilder. The report, “The Changing Face of U.S. Jobs,” analyzed how a more diverse population is affecting the composition of about 800 jobs by gender, age and race or ethnicity.

In 2014, 49% of jobs were held by women, compared with 48% in 2001. That amounts to 4,900,000 more female workers added since 2001 versus only 2,200,000 more male workers.

Hispanic and Asian workers also made major gains over the past 13 years. In 2014, Hispanics held 13% of all jobs, which was up from only 11% in 2001. Asians held 5% of jobs last year, which up from 4% in 2001. Additionally, the percentage of African-American workers rose in 22% of all occupations. Moreover, women and minorities made gains in 44% of the 50 highest paying professions.

However, a lot more needs to be done to assimilate women and minorities into the workforce. With the scarcity of many positions, companies need to “leave no stone unturned” in their quest for the best possible talent. This means making an even greater effort to recruit women and minorities. This should not be done out of goodwill. Instead, it makes very good business sense!

What are your thoughts?

Technical Talent Becoming Scarce; Need To Improve Your Recruiting!

Friday, March 6th, 2015

The Labor Department said this morning that U.S. employers continued a trend of robust hiring by adding 295,000 new employees last month. This lowered the unemployment rate to 5.5%!

February’s rate is the lowest since May 2008. The economy has now added more than 200,000 jobs for 12 straight months, which is the longest such streak since 1995.

These results were a lot better than many economists had projected. Instead, they expected payrolls to increase by only 240,000 in February and the jobless rate to fall to only 5.6%.

Hiring was strong across most industries. The leisure and hospitality sector added 66,000 jobs last month. Professional and business services added 51,000 jobs. Health care and social assistance added 32,800 jobs. Retailers added 32,000 positions to payrolls and construction jobs increased by 29,000. The public sector added 7,000 jobs.

Technical Talent

Anecdotally, over the last few months, most of my technical recruiting colleagues have shared that top-notch technical talent is becoming more and more scarce. This is due to a lot more demand than supply among the Research & Development (R&D), engineering, scientific, Information Technology (IT), technical and manufacturing areas that we concentrate on as an executive recruitment firm. This has resulted in many R&D, engineering and scientific job positions going unfilled for longer periods of time and in turn reducing the productivity of many departments!

As a result, we recommend that companies greatly improve their recruiting prowess. Unfortunately, most human resource departments have been cut back during the recession. Furthermore, those remaining personnel professionals have been required to handle a lot more tasks. This has brutally hampered many companies’ recruiting efforts. As a result, many R&D, engineering, scientific, technical, IT and manufacturing positions have gone unfilled for longer periods of time. In turn, this has severely reduced many firms’ productivity.

Best Worldwide Practices To Attract And Retain TalentThat is why we have recently launched our training division. The primary focus of our new practice is teaching hiring managers the Best Worldwide Practices To Attract And Retain Talent. One aspect of this is training internal hiring managers to be better recruiters, which in turn lowers your Cost Per Hire! One of the tools we use for this training is our 12 Commandments of Recruiting outlined which are some of our best practices learned since opening our doors over 25 years ago on July 14, 1989.

During this process we follow 4 steps: a) dividing hiring managers into small work groups of 7-8 (Key: as I shared in my recent YouTube video smaller groups tend to be a lot more productive) b) sequentially discussing each of the 12 Commandments, including customizing them to the particular needs of the group and overseeing each group member as they attempt to actuate the commandment within the group setting c) progressing to the next commandment and following the same procedure and d) ending with a general question and answer session to ensure that each attendee has mastered all 12 Commandments. At the end of the process most of our clients have exponentially increased their technical recruiting abilities!

WHAT ARE YOUR FINDINGS?

R&D Yields Many Ancillary Societal Benefits!

Friday, October 31st, 2014

As many of you know, drones have been a centerpiece of our war on terror. They allow our military to strike terrorists in remote regions such as the borders between Afghanistan and Pakistan without risking countless troops or military assets.

Amazon & Google R&D LabRecently, drones have been repurposed for civilian use. The Research and Development (R&D) laboratories of innovative companies like Amazon.com and Google X (Google’s R&D labs) have been developing and testing drones for such purposes as delivering medicines and packages to remote global regions that would otherwise be cost prohibitive and dangerous. For example, medications needed for stranded and injured hikers on the top of Mount Everest.

Now State Farm Insurance, the nation’s largest home and auto insurer, is considering using drones to improve its ability to process claims in disaster-stricken areas. Their recent pitch to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to allow them to do so is,property and casualty insurers play a major role in funding the restoration of businesses and communities after major incidents and unmanned aircraft, such as drones, will only facilitate and streamline this process.”

This recent example of technology transfer from government labs to civilian use is consistent with our nation’s history. The government best delivers basic research because there is no profit motive for public companies to fund pure R&D. Furthermore, as evidenced by such applications of drones by State Farm and other companies, this basic R&D, often developed by DARPA, other government labs or public universities for military use, can eventually provide countless civilian benefits not originally envisioned by its R&D creators! These are the ancillary benefits of basic research. Another example is the microchip, which was born out of the need for increased processing power within very, very tight area constraints of our NASA space capsules. Now microprocessors are omnipresent!

Besides personal benefit as an engineering recruiter recruiting more engineering talent for my client’s technical positions, there are many other national benefits accrued from increased R&D. This is substantiated by past articles:

a) Exercise Our Nation’s Students Into More Engineering, Scientific and Technical Graduate Studies and Jobs

b) Engineering Innovation, The Real Way To Create More Jobs: Part 1 of 3

c) Engineering Innovation, The Real Way To Create More Jobs: Part 2 of 3

d) Engineering Innovation, The Real Way To Create More Jobs: Part 3 of 3

e) Going For The Gold: Creating New Companies And Jobs With Great Ideas! 

f) Norway’s Olympic Success: A Paradigm For R&D, Scientific And Technical Jobs Creation

all of which point to the need for a greater focus on R&D, engineering, scientific and technical endeavors.

However, in order for these R&D efforts to be successful, we also need to energize our STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) training. This can include, as I previously wrote Comedic Education Increases Future R&D adding comedy to make STEM subjects more fun and easier to learn.

Additionally, as I shared in the video http://youtu.be/kKJiTUykoRY?list=UU7PSVH_DnMAFhS1pu56S5_w with almost 74% of STEM graduates not being able to find jobs in STEM fields, the government needs to create and fund more major research projects with utilitarian benefit. As I shared in previous articles: a) Design Engineering Jobs Can Help You Reach the Stars and b) A New Space Race To Fuel Technical Jobs these can include novel projects to build taller buildings, better roads and stronger infrastructure.

In summary, historically, there have been many proven offshoots from government and military R&D programs. These range from the microprocessor to commercial drones. All can yield many, many long-term R&D benefits to our society! As a result, we need to ramp up our R&D efforts to ensure our future competitiveness.

What are your thoughts?

Do 4-Year Degrees Yield Higher Salaries?

Friday, July 18th, 2014

2-year associates degreeHistorically, a 4-year degree has been a lot more valuable than a 2-year associate’s degree. Therefore, for generations this has justified the time and expense because it guaranteed a middle-class life style. However, as I wrote previously 2014 Job Market Uneven For Graduates. It benefits some in engineering, scientific, R&D, IT and technical areas, but not others.

Additionally, recent research from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, College Measures and the American Institutes for Research demonstrates that holders of some associate degrees in scientific, engineering and technical fields are actually landing higher salaries, at least earlier on in their careers, than those investing the time and expense to gain BA and BS degrees!

graduate degreesThough this new research does continue to reinforce the notion that a 4-year college degree is worth the investment, it contradicts the long-term belief it is a lot more valuable than an associates degree. The growing body of data from states such as Texas, Colorado and Indiana proves this point. For example, in Indiana, figures show that graduates from Ivy Tech Community College are actually making more than the average 4-year degree graduates of Indiana University!

For example, New York Federal Reserve economists Jaison Abel and Richard Deitz calculated the annualized return on investment for the money invested into a college degree over a graduate’s career, pegging it at about 15% for current graduates. This figure, which far surpasses the typical returns on investment for stocks and bonds, has held largely constant for more than a decade.

U.S. jobs marketHowever, Abel and Deitz also found that the overall rate of return on a bachelor’s degree and an associate’s degree is very similar. Furthermore, this parallel value has remained constant for several decades in the U.S. jobs market. Though bachelor’s degree holders are earning more on average at about $65,800 than associate’s degree holders $46,300, if when Abel and Deitz factor in the cost of obtaining either degree (with bachelor’s degrees costing $110,000 to $130,000 versus associate’s degrees costing $40,000 to $60,000), the cost versus benefits (wages) remains constant at 15% return on investment for both types of degrees.

Anecdotally, my internal executive recruitment team, other engineering recruitment agencies we collaborate with and even the internal engineering recruiters and technical recruiters at many of our clients substantiate this fact. For example, in a recent search we did for Project and Process Engineers in injection molding, we found that most of the best-qualified candidates in fact had only acquired a technical or scientific or engineering associates degree.

In closing, does this mean that you should lean towards an associate’s degree over a bachelor’s? Not necessarily. It depends upon the field you choose. However, this is a fact you should take into consideration when deciding upon the time and expense of your education.

What are your thoughts?

2014 Job Market Uneven For Graduates

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

The 2014 job market for recent graduates has improved over the last two graduation job markets, but that improvement is uneven. For college grads aged 20-24 the unemployment rate this year is 4.4 percent, which is greatly improved from 7.2 percent last year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is almost 3 times better that that of their peers possessing only a high school diploma, which is 13.8%! However, these unemployment rates vary widely depending upon the field.

US job market

Recent college graduates with degrees in health care are experiencing only a 3% unemployment rate. Furthermore, a lot of hiring is being done for those with computer software, nursing and other engineering, R&D, scientific, IT and technical degrees. Additionally, many engineering recruiters, scientific recruiters and technical recruiters who are part of my executive recruiting monthly roundtable have shared that many of their clients are actually paying recruiting fees for recent graduates. This is a sign that these technical fields are in short supply and high demand.

This contrasts with an unemployment rate of 8% for those college graduates with liberal arts degrees according to a recent study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Furthermore, not all engineering, scientific, R&D, IT and technical fields are in high demand among employers. For example, civil engineers and architects are finding it hard to land a job due to the continued weakness in the building construction industry. In these high unemployment areas when jobs are available they are usually temporary (contract) employment. Unfortunately, many recent graduates do not effectively mine these temporary opportunities.

Because of the slow growing economy countless companies fail to immediately hire full time employees due to the uncertainty of the future. However, they do often convert the best of the their temporary (contract) employees into full time positions after they prove themselves. That is why I recommend “Four Steps To Converting A Temporary Position Into A Full Time One.” This strategy will provide you a differential advantage versus your intense competition among other 2014 graduates for limited job opportunities. Please go to my recent YouTube video on the subject.

Will Robots Steal Future Jobs?

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

Amazon Prime AirEverywhere you turn are the wonders of cutting-edge technology including 3-D virtual reality, smartphones, robots and Amazon’s proposed new Prime Air pilotless drone delivery system that can deliver packages within 30 minutes of a customer order! As a result, our civilization has moved forward quantum leaps in R&D, scientific, engineering, IT, technical and manufacturing development.

Unfortunately, these breakthroughs may cost us many of our future jobs! In a recent study entitled, The Future of Employment: How Susceptible Are Jobs to Computerization,” authors Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osbourne of Oxford University predict that nearly 50% of U.S. workers will be replaced by robots within 10 to 20 years!

Japanese Robot HRP-4CResearch shows that as machine learning has dramatically progressed and lowered in cost, jobs like real estate agents, loan officers and office clerks will be replaced by robots and automation using artificial intelligence (AI). AI has already started to permeate the workplace with new tools that replicate human judgments that were previously too complicated and subtle to implement into a computer instructions just a few years ago. These AI Algorithms “learn” from past examples, which eliminate the need for mass, new software code for every new command. Such IT advances coupled with R&D advances in mobile robots make it highly likely that many of today’s U.S. workers will be replaced by automation!

Robot of the future JobOne current example of this dramatic transformation is the online peer-to-peer lender Daric Inc. Partly funded by former Wells Fargo & Co. Chairman Richard Kovacevich, this startup company has developed an AI algorithm that has not only learned what types of past borrowers make for safe credit risks, but also constantly updates its IT program to predict the most creditworthy in the future. As a result, Frey and Osborne believe that such AI programs will eventually replace 98% of today’s loan officers!

This is not all bad news. At executive recruiting conferences I regularly meet with other engineering recruiters, R&D recruiters, IT recruiters, scientific recruiters, technical recruiters and manufacturing recruiters to discuss the most difficult to fill positions. We all believe that many related engineering, scientific and technical positions, including hardware, software, robotics, AI, mechanical and biomechanical, will continue to be in short supply and high demand for many years to come as new, future derivations of AI are developed.

The main problem as I shared in one of my previous articles Exercise Our Nation’s Students Into More Engineering, Scientific and Technical Graduate Studies and Jobs is we need to dramatically improve our math, science and reading education to produce future leaders in the technical, scientific, engineering, IT, R&D and manufacturing fields. Without enhanced K-12 educational training we will not be able to generate enough engineers, scientists, R&D, IT, technical and manufacturing professionals needed for future AI, robotics and automation development.

What are your thoughts?

 

Permanent Employment Via Temp Jobs

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

Permanent Via TempAccording to the most recent, monthly Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) jobs report, only 192,000 new, full time jobs were created. This raised the average, during the first four months of 2014, to a miniscule 138,500 jobs created. Furthermore, BLS reported that:

  1. 20,100,000 Americans were either unemployed, underemployed (i.e. involuntarily working part-time because they could not find a full time job) or just gave up looking for work. This means that 1 in 5 or 20% of every person you meet is either unemployed, underemployed or has just given up looking for work!
  2. The Illinois’ unemployment rate is 2% worse than the national average at 8.7% versus 6.7% nationally!

Additionally, as I reported in a recent article “CEO’s See Increased Sales, But Not Increased Hiring” a new survey of CEO’s by the Business Roundtable uncovered that, even though CEO’s are expecting significantly increased capital spending and sales over the next six months, they are not expecting to dramatically increase hiring! However, the U.S. economy is still creating jobs. They just do not happen to be full time positions. The temporary staffing industry has experienced major growth since 2009. As a result, temporary (also called contract) positions now account for more than 10% of all jobs generated since 2009! How can job seekers become employed full time when most job openings are temporary? One strategy is taking advantage of the simultaneously occurring trend called temp-to-perm conversions. This means that an employer will hire an employee, such as an engineer, scientist, R&D, IT, manufacturing or technical professional, on a temporary basis, try them out for some period of time and then eventually convert them to a full time employee. Unfortunately, because most executive recruiters do not collect fees from this, they tend to advise job seekers against exploring temporary positions with temporary agencies. Furthermore, many technical, engineering and scientific candidates falsely believe that it will derail their full time job-hunting efforts if they investigate temporary jobs. This myth tends to be fueled by both:

  1. Permanent placement firms such as engineering recruitment agencies, scientific recruitment agencies, technical recruitment agencies and other types of full time executive recruiting firms, worried about loosing recruiting fees.
  2. The internal management recruiters of employers not savvy to the contract recruiting market.

Permanent placement firmsInstead, I recommend four steps to help you harness the power of the temporary or contract market. First, continue to explore all your full time employment options. Second, uncover top temporary employment agencies best suited to meeting your needs. For example, please go to http://asacentral.americanstaffing.net/ASADirectory/Home/CompanySearch for the American Staffing Association’s database. It will guide you to the best temporary agencies based upon such factors as location and occupational category. Third, contact those temporary agencies that seem to meet your requirements. Ask to speak to one of the recruiters that handles your field. Prepare and ask a short list of questions including:

  1. Who are some of your clients?
  2. How many placements have you made in my field in the last six months?
  3. How many of those placements were converted to full time positions?
  4. Who is the primary recruiter who handles my field?

Based upon this phone conversation (or unwillingness of the temp agency to either allow you to speak to a recruiter or answer these questions) decide which firms will best meet your needs. Finally, choose and list with the 3-4 contract temporary placement firms that you feel best meet your needs. This is the case since each firm has its own select sampling frame of key clients. Therefore, you need to make sure that your needs are fully covered with all the proper employers within your desired geographic areas and fields. Remember that the jobs market remains soft and there are no easy answers for finding a full time position. However, pursuing temporary jobs can lead to full time employment through temp-to-perm conversions. Please go to http://www.strategicsearch.com/interview-preparation-tips/interview-preparation-tips.php and click on #9 below for a short video I have prepared to help you reminder this trend. What are your thoughts?