What Jobs Should The U.S. Be Creating?

The news about jobs is getting better. The unemployment rate dipped for the fifth straight month to 8.3 percent. The number of jobs being created has been rising at a rate of 200,000 each month, topped by 243,000 jobs added in January alone. What Jobs Are Being Created In the US

That is great news for the economy and fuel for a surge on Wall Street, where the Nasdaq hit an 11-year high and the Dow Jones Industrial Average reached a peak not seen since 2008.

Does this mean the U.S. economy has found a cure for the recession or a strategy to relieve and mask the symptoms of a deeper, more serious problem? The truth is that it’s likely a little of both. Unfortunately that means that sooner than later the problem will resurface, much like an untreated cancer eventually weakens and destroys the functions of the body.

Much of our unemployment since the recession has been the result of massive layoffs in construction and manufacturing. Creating new jobs in manufacturing, according to many politicos, bureaucrats, economists, and executives, are the key to our recovery. With more people working, more consumption will take place and more homes will be built and purchased, putting millions of unemployed construction workers back to work. That all makes sense.

Except (you likely knew that was coming)… that the manufacturing jobs we need to create aren’t the manufacturing jobs that existed pre-2008. We don’t need workers to just make things. We need workers who make the things that make things and then make those “thing-makers” work in seamless integrated systems.

And that’s the problem. We have a lot of people who are really good at making things. But so does the rest of the world…and they are willing to work more hours for less money. That’s one reason why the U.S. economy is struggling to create jobs. To compete, many of the old manufacturing jobs are gone forever. If those jobs exist, they have been automated, requiring maybe one worker to do the job of five or ten workers just a few years ago. In other words, we could have our manufacturing output humming at record levels and still employ a fraction of the workers that did the same job 10 years ago.

What the U.S. does better than anyone else in the world is make the things that make things. Unfortunately we don’t have enough of those skilled workers or the workers who can service those thing-makers. We need workers who can spot a faulty circuit board, not count nuts and bolts. We need workers who can design, troubleshoot and repair a defective robotic arm, not manufacture the components of the robot.

For politicians and especially low skill workers, that situation places job creation at a painful crossroad. For millions of workers over the past few decades, low skill jobs were the ticket to the middle class and upward mobility. But that has all changed. Good paying careers dependent on low skill workers are gone. That leaves tens of millions of past and future workers stuck in jobs that offer at best bare bone living wages and no future.

To create jobs that ensure workers can earn a living wage and entertain the possibility of moving up requires answers to three interrelated questions:

  1. What products should be made and supported in the U.S.?
  2. What jobs can and should be created that provide good living wages, upward mobility, and still keep the U.S. competitive?
  3. What needs to be done to train and re-train millions of low-skilled and under-skilled U.S. workers to do these jobs?

The order in which we answer the questions is critical. We first must determine what products (or services) should be made in the U.S. Unfortunately we seem to be attempting to solve the job creation problem in reverse order. We want to train and re-train for many jobs that might be obsolete or become low-paying in the very near future. And not all jobs that might be created help the U.S. become or remain competitive.

The U.S. is at the proverbial fork in the road. What road should we take? What products and services should be make and support?

This article originally appeared in The Total View, a weekly online newsletter that focuses on hiring, management and retention strategies. The Total View is written and published by Ira S. Wolfe, president of Success Performance Solutions and is distributed with permission by The Chrysalis Corporation. Subscribe for FREE to The Total View by typing your e-mail address in the newsletter sign-up box on the right side of this page.

How Many Job Applicants Does it Take to Find One Qualified Candidate?

While the question sounds like the preamble to a funny punch line, the answer is no laughing matter.

According to an article last week in the Wall Street Journal, it takes many more than most employers think (or at least want to accept.) I repeat – a lot more. The actual numbers are numbing.

For example, an infographic presented in the article revealed that it takes approximately 1,000 online views by candidates to get 100 candidates to complete the application. Out of that, 25 applications are selected for review, then 4 to 6 candidates are recommended for an interview. When all is said and done, companies may find their one diamond in the rough only after 1,000 candidates view the job posting. If those numbers hold up, it is clear that the impending war for talent is no longer imminent or pending. It’s here today.

Not one to rely only exclusively on hearsay, I was prompted by the article to review 25 jobs posted on our applicant processing system by clients during the last 3 months. The results don’t only confirm the findings presented in the Wall Street Journal but throw up an even bigger gauntlet to challenge employers. The best views-to-applicant scenario was 10 percent. But a more common scenario was as low as 1 percent.

Unfortunately for many companies, as good or bad as those results are, the job search does not always end when the one lonely qualified candidate is identified and offered the job. According to research presented by Talent Function Group, LLC, “the chosen applicant accepts the offer only 80% of the time.” That situation leads to two options – offer the job to your second choice (if there is one) or go back to the drawing board. Neither choice is desirable when a company’s productivity and competitive advantage are on the line and dependent on a minimum time to hire and high quality of hire.

To win the war for talent moving forward, nearly every employer will need to cast the widest possible sourcing net to attract, identify, and hire qualified candidates. In addition, operations and sales managers don’t have the time to waste interviewing candidates who can’t do the job.

The competition for recruiting qualified skilled workers poses a formidable challenge for most organizations. Management has a choice: deal with a “resu-mess” which will inundate recruiting and human resource staffs, which are already running lean; or insist on applicant processing automation to build a talent pool of qualified candidates, reduce the time-to-hire, and ultimately improve the quality of employees.

This article originally appeared in The Total View, a weekly online newsletter that focuses on hiring, management and retention strategies. The Total View is written and published by Ira S. Wolfe, president of Success Performance Solutions and is distributed with permission by The Chrysalis Corporation. Subscribe for FREE to The Total View by typing your e-mail address in the newsletter sign-up box on the right side of this page.

 

9 of the Best Workforce Predictions for 2012

Workforce Predictions for 20121. Skills Gap -We not only face a quantitative shortage of skilled workers but an imbalance between needed and available skills is making hiring difficult. A study by SHRM and others in late 2010 showed that only 32 percent of U.S. college graduates have “excellent” skills as they enter the working world and only 16 percent of high-school graduates have such skills. Young people are less prepared than ever, forcing employers to adopt new online recruiting strategies, new employee screening processes, new hire training including basic reading and math literacy, improved apprenticeships and mentoring programs, and other on-the-job training and development programs to build skills.

2. Résumé Overload (the Resu-mess) – The number of job seekers applying for jobs is greater than ever. Bersin’s Talent Acquisition Factbook® shows that recruiters seeking hourly workers receive an average of 144 résumés per position, and recruiters seeking white-collar workers collect more than 90 résumés per position. It is harder than ever to sort out the best candidates – hence an explosion of interest in assessment tools and prehire simulations. (According to Bersin & Associates, the assessment industry is on fire, growing rapidly as companies realize that they can better screen and preassess people using games, tests and simulations online. If you are not using online pre employment assessments online pre employment assessments and online applicant processing now, you should in 2012.)

3. Employee Retention. Retention issues will increase dramatically. Almost every survey shows that more than a majority of employees are willing to quit their current job as soon as a better opportunity comes along. Dr. John Sullivan predicts that turnover rates in high-demand occupations will increase by 25% during the next year and because most corporate retention programs have been so severely degraded, retention could turn out to be the highest-economic-impact area in all of talent management. Another startling set of statistics was just released by Mercer. In late 2011, its global research (more than 10,000 employees responding) found that 32 percent of employees are “planning on leaving” their employers, versus only 19 percent two years ago. Low engagement and employee performance is now the second most common business challenge cited in Bersin’s TalentWatch® research.

4. Social Media. For the last few years, most firms jumped on the social media bandwagon, but unfortunately the trial-and-error approach used by most has produced only mediocre results. In 2012 social media will increase its impact by becoming more data-driven.Talent leaders will increasingly see the value of a combination of internal and external social media approaches for managing and developing talent. Thanks to tools such as Twitter, Facebook, Glassdoor and many others, your employment brand is now “out there” whether you like it or not and whether you put it out there or not. To attract the best candidates from the large pool of workers you need to create a magnet – a clear articulation of your company’s strategy, a clear definition of the types of people you are hiring and lots of good will coming from employees in the marketplace.

5. Telework. Telecommuting and virtual work changes everything in talent management. The continued growth of technology, social media, and easy communications now makes it possible for most knowledge work and team activities to occur remotely. Allowing top talent to work “wherever they want to work” improves retention and makes recruiting dramatically easier. as aging baby boomers stay in the workforce longer than planned, but demand more flexibility in where, when and how they work. Telework and telecommuting also continues to destroy the concept of permanent, full-time employment. (Keep reading!)

6. Contingency/Part-time Workforce. It is easier than ever to pick up your newly found skills and take them elsewhere. Upward of 40 percent of the U.S. workforce now works parttime or on a contract basis. Data from the last quarter of 2010 showed that contingent workers accounted for nearly 68 percent of new private sector jobs. Young people (particularly the under-30 age group) have rewritten the definition of work. That’s bad news for organizations that still hang on to work as a place you go to for 30 or 40 years. It turns out that the workforce is becoming much younger very quickly. By 2013, 47 percent of all employees will be those born after 1977. So, in 2012 and going forward, organizations must focus heavily on building programs to drive engagement among workers under the age of 30. (Re-read trend on Retention.)

7. Recruitment. 2012 will see a dramatic increase in workforce “poaching.” Yes, poaching employees is a rather harsh term for such an honorable profession as human resources. But let’s be honest, many of the employees a business wants to hire are already working. And many companies (although I don’t agree with this tactic, advertise “only employed workers need apply.”) Well, thanks to social media and a war for talent, many of the most desirable skilled workers can easily find job opportunities with competitors without working through head-hunters. For companies trying to ramp up production quickly or find highly skilled talent, the only way to get the talent they need quickly will be to “poach” or steal them from away from competitors. As the speed of change in business continues to increase, talent managers will also need to rethink the “develop internally first” approach. In many cases, recruiting becomes a more viable option because there simply isn’t time for current employees to develop completely new skills. As a result, the trend will be to continually shift the balance toward recruiting for immediate needs and the use of contingent labor for short-duration opportunities and problems. (For more on the likelihood of poaching employees happening, read about retention trends in 2012.)

8. Employer branding. Years of layoffs, cuts in compensation, and generally bad press for business in general will force firms to invest in branding themselves as a good, if not best place to work. The increased use of social media and frequent visits to employee criticism sites (like Glassdoor.com), make not managing employer brand perception a risky proposition. While corporations will never control their employer brand, they can monitor and influence in a direction that isn’t catastrophic to recruiting and retention. Some of the best organizations spend little on marketing, yet put time, energy and resources into making sure they have a sustainable culture. When a company is perceived to be one that really cares about its employees, it can prove to be a great PR or branding opportunity. Customers patronize businesses that care about their employees, and will even pay more if they believe their values are shared by the company.

9. E-Learning. Training and development is being transformed. Time is valuable and every minute away from a job means a loss in productivity especially when organizations are running so lean. But it’s also quite obvious that employees need to keep developing and learning new job skills. Thanks to tools like YouTube, Google and Facebook, we have all become accustomed to “instant gratification” – so online courseware that takes 30 minutes to complete is out. New video based online training now takes no longer than 10 minutes at a time and has been proven to more effective than longer videos and workshops. Short e-earning videos engaging workers better, especially using mobile devices, will proliferate.

This article originally appeared in The Total View, a weekly online newsletter that focuses on hiring, management and retention strategies. The Total View is written and published by Ira S. Wolfe, president of Success Performance Solutions and is distributed with permission by The Chrysalis Corporation. Subscribe for FREE to The Total View by typing your e-mail address in the newsletter sign-up box on the right side of this page.