• RSS Feed

The LinkUp Blog The Industry's Best-Kept Secret

December 1, 2016 / Toby Dayton

LinkUp Forecasting Net Gain of 140,000 Jobs in November

A few times a year, the calendar is such that the first Friday of the month, the day that the Bureau of Labor Statistics typically releases its Employment Situation report, falls on the 1st or 2nd of the month. Because we don’t pull our monthly data for our Non-Farm Payroll forecast model until about 5AM on the 1st of each month, we have to scramble in those instances to calculate our NFP forecast, submit it to Bloomberg, and publish our commentary as early as possible before the jobs report gets released.

December is just such a month, and with a tight schedule before the jobs report tomorrow, I’ll forego any commentary and simply publish our data. (Admittedly, this also serves as a convenient excuse to put off to another day having to write anything about the nightmare election).

Based on new and total job openings in LinkUp’s job search engine in October, we are forecasting a net gain of 140,000 jobs in November, slightly below October’s job gains and below consensus forecast.

As background, LinkUp’s job search engine only indexes jobs directly from company websites. Today, our search engine includes roughly 3.5 million openings sourced from approximately 30,000 company websites in the U.S. and around the world. Because we update the search engine every day, the jobs are always current, and there are no duplicates because we only source jobs from as single source – the employer’s website itself. And perhaps most importantly, LinkUp’s labor market data eliminates job board pollution (job scams, fraudulent posting, phishing posts, identity theft, money-mule scams, resume gathering, etc.) because we do not aggregate jobs from other job sites the way that other aggregators and jobs data companies do. 

 

LinkUp NFP Nov 2016

 

Job duration rose from just over 44 days to 46 days in November, pointing to slowing hiring velocity in the labor market due to slowing labor demand and/or growing difficulty in filling openings due to a Full Employment environment which we’ve been in since at least Q2.

 

Job Duration November 2016

 

To be clear, the labor demand remains strong and wages will undoubtedly continue to climb, but not surprisingly given the Full Employment environment, the pace of hiring has been slowing down. And it looks like that trend will continue given LinkUp’s data from November, a month in which new job listings dropped 14% from October and total job openings declined 5%. Those declines were spread throughout the entire country, as indicated in the table below.

 

Jobs by State Nov 2016

 

The Jobs by Category picture for November is equally as grim.

 

Jobs By Category November 2016

 

So tomorrow, look for a decent but below-consensus jobs report of 140,000 jobs gained in November which should be more than sufficient to allow the Fed to raise rates later this month.

December 1, 2016 / Stephanie Anderson

New year, new job: The smart timeline to success starts now

shutterstock_252366133You’ve done the exercise thing. You’re already eating healthy. Your house is organized and winter travel plans are confirmed. All those standard New Year’s resolutions don’t matter this year anyway, because in 2017 you have a new goal: an awesome new job.

Many people hope for a new job in the new year. However, most people put off job hunting to-do’s until Jan. 1. This can be a big mistake. By waiting, you’ll join thousands of other eager candidates who are sprucing up their resumes and organizing their contact lists once the holidays are over. The competition is guaranteed to pick up, but you can get an edge against other candidates by starting job search steps right now.

With the holiday hubbub in full force, it might seem impossible to squeeze in time for job search essentials. Don’t worry. Starting a job hunt need not make you a holiday Scrooge. This smart timeline full of helpful to-do’s is an easy solution so you can get a head start on the competition while staying merry and bright all December long.

1st week of December: This is the best time to focus on the fundamental tool of a smart job search: a concise yet compelling resume. Revise, edit and then revise again. With each pass you’re perfecting the main document used to sell yourself to a hiring manager. Once you think it’s near perfect, have at least two trusted friends or professional contacts review and provide honest feedback. Then make adjustments as necessary.

2nd week of December: Start week two by sprucing up your LinkedIn profile. Use your updated resume to refresh your online information and add a new professional head shot to capture more eyes. Next, spend time creating your employer wish list. This is a document of all the companies you’d like to work for if offered a job. Join talent communities at each, researching options at various social media platforms. Follow these communities daily and interact as necessary with posts and comments.

3rd week of December: It’s time to set up job alerts that focus on positions that pique your interest. Use industry keywords to ensure you get the right information funneled to your inbox. Then create a spreadsheet tracking jobs you’ve flagged as top opportunities. Soon you’ll also use this document to track where you are in the application process so you stay organized and on top of next steps.

4th week of December: Networking is essential to getting a new job. However, many people are busy during the holidays so it will be difficult to connect and create any traction. Instead, make a list of people you want to connect with right after the holidays to discuss your professional endeavors. Perhaps an invitation for coffee to toast the new year will be the perfect networking opportunity that will land you your new gig.

In just four weeks you’ll be ahead of the curve so you can hit the ground running in the new year. While everyone else is starting from scratch, you’ll be leading the pack in 2017 and beyond.

November 22, 2016 / Molly Moseley

Closed on Thanksgiving: The newest retail trend supports workers and the bottom line

About five years ago it seemed retailers left and right were announcing earlier openings that extended to Thanksgiving Day. They wanted to grab an extra slice of that profit pie by luring in shoppers the day prior to the big Black Friday rush. Images of long lines danced in their heads, but much like actual sugar plums, the idea was more appealing than the reality.

Fast-forward to today. Sure, the standard big-box retailers are still planning to open at some point during Thanksgiving, but malls, chains and independent stores have announced full Thanksgiving closures at higher rates than in the recent past.

Why the change of heart? There are a few big reasons that can’t be ignored.

First, despite the potential bargains, people are shopping less on Thanksgiving Day than before. According to the National Retail Federation, Thanksgiving Day saw 44.8 million adults shop in 2013, 43.1 million in 2014, and 34.6 million in 2015. This year, experts predict declines once again, partly due, no doubt, to more people shopping deals online from the comfort of their home.

Forbes lists 52 top retailers who are closed on Thanksgiving, including Nordstrom, Marshalls and Costco. Mall of America (just a short drive from the LinkUp offices) is closed on Thanksgiving, but ultimately it’s up to store owners at the mall to decide whether they will open.

MOA’s much talked about move is estimated to give approximately 1,200 employees the day off, which they can spend with family and friends, notes CNN Money. That’s highly appealing not only to the workers, but also to consumers.

That brings us to the second reason companies are changing their ways: Conscientious shoppers are seeking socially responsible companies at which to spend their holiday dollars. Companies that “have heart” are appealing across generations, from baby boomers who value the tradition of Thanksgiving, to millennials who want to confidently buy from ethical companies.

Finally, the last (and, in my opinion, most compelling) reason to close on Thanksgiving is that it’s doing right by employees. Giving staff time off is important, particularly during the year-end period when employees often pull overtime regularly. One day off to unwind can mean improved productivity and morale for the rest of the holiday season, because employees believe the employer truly cares about their well-being. What’s more, employees will remember the goodwill long after the holidays are over.

And those socially conscious shoppers? They remember, too. I personally have several friends and relatives that won’t shop at certain stores year-round based on whether they are open on Thanksgiving. That’s just how important it is to them. It’s putting people above dollars for a day, and that’s what leaves the lasting impression. The irony seems to be that those stores are ultimately getting more of those dollars, so it’s a win-win for everyone.

November 16, 2016 / Molly Moseley

Employees working while ill? Maybe it’s the PTO policy

When the temperature drops across the country, sniffles and sneezes begin and mark the official beginning of the cold and flu season. While an average of 5–20 percent of the U.S. population gets the flu each year, according to the CDC Foundation, even more will get colds and other viruses that slow life to a halt.

Whether it’s the flu or another ailment, workers may call in sick to take care of themselves or their family members who fall ill. Most employers agree that people should stay home when sick for two important reasons: to get better quickly and to prevent the spread of illness to other employees. This ultimately helps to reduce backlogs and keep productivity as high as possible.

One great way to encourage employees to stay home when ill is to provide a paid time off benefit. There are three main ways companies approach sick time, and each has its pros and cons.

1. Separate sick and vacation time

The traditional approach to PTO is to separate sick time from vacation time. Because certain days are designated for sick periods, employees may be more likely to stay home because these days can be used only when ill. However, this also means healthy employees may call in sick when they aren’t ill because they want to use this benefit before it expires. Furthermore, it can be more complex for HR to track PTO when separated into different categories.

2. Lump sum PTO

Many companies are switching to the lump PTO approach. This gives employees the flexibility to use paid time off as they choose, which can be a perk. The drawback, though, is that employees would much rather use this benefit for a vacation or another fun event, so they may be more likely to come into the office when ill in order to avoid using up a precious PTO day. This could cause illness to spread to other people and drain productivity.

3. Unlimited sick time

Unlimited sick time is the holy grail from an employee’s perspective. Being able to stay home when ill without concern about financial or workplace repercussions is a huge benefit that will draw the attention of incoming talent, all while boosting loyalty among current employees. But it takes a special company culture to make this work — one based on trust and the assumption that employees will be responsible and reasonable about their choices.

Ultimately what works for one company may not for another, so there’s no one-size-fits-all PTO strategy. Fortunately, if a program isn’t working, the start of the year is a great time to evaluate and make adjustments.

Despite what a company chooses to offer, good communication about benefits and the importance of staying home when ill can be highly effective. What’s more, leadership must model desired behaviors; this means no sniffling, hacking, miserable-looking bosses working late hours. When members of leadership take care of themselves, employees will do the same when it’s time to go home and get some R&R (and maybe that flu shot).

November 9, 2016 / Molly Moseley

Election results and the workplace: How to bring employees together

Excitement. Hope. Pride.

Shock. Disappointment. Sadness.

What is the atmosphere at your place of work today? This historic election has brought out myriad emotions as candidates powered through the campaign trail. As the results came in on Election Day, these emotions seemed to multiply. Waking up this morning (if you were able to sleep much at all last night) meant starting the day with a new President-elect.

Then it was time to go to work, just like any other day.

When I woke up today I was feeling pretty overwhelmed. As I got ready this morning, my son greeted me and was a surprising voice of reason. “Well at least we were given the chance to vote and have an opinion,” he said. I paused and gave him a hug, in awe that such comforting and wise words came from a second grader.

Regardless of whether you were for or against Trump, the important thing is that we all had a chance to vote and shape our future. We will continue to have that voice every four years, and even more often for many state and local races. Ultimately it’s up to us to use our voice to demand action for what is important to us, as well as hold our leaders accountable to what they have promised. Thank you, son, for reminding me of this.

As voters from all sides make their way through the workday, it’s important to demonstrate respect and empathy for each other. Today I encourage everyone to be kind to one another. No gloating or sulking. Support each other and strive to do something positive for at least one co-worker today.

In times of division, management holds the key to calm by demonstrating grace and understanding. Leadership should be sensitive to all employees and explain that the same is expected throughout the company. This might entail an email explaining company policy or a causal meeting with teams noting expectations. Go a step further and use this time to share words of inspiration.

Another idea: There’s no better day to schedule something enjoyable for teams to do. Splurge on pizza for lunch and invite everyone to the lunch room to mingle and eat great food. Take people out to coffee and ask about their hobbies or family. Schedule a group meeting during which you complete a team-building activity — no political talk allowed.

Finally, in times of change, it’s common to experience emotions of helplessness. People from all political backgrounds are feeling they have little control over their future today. Encourage focus on what can be controlled. It might be hitting a deadline for a brand-new work project. It might be an opportunity to learn a new professional skill. It might be heading directly home after a long day to have a movie night while holding your children close.

Remember, we are one country. Let’s strive to make each other stronger and focus on creating a brighter future for all.

November 3, 2016 / Toby Dayton

LinkUp Forecasting Non-Farm Payroll of 105,000 For October; Barring The Apocalypse, Job Gains Should Remain Slow And Steady

Given the abundance of bias in my blog posts over the years, there is no way that I can refrain from endorsing Hillary in a post just a few days prior to the election. But rather than re-write what has already been written countless times over the past year, I will leave it to a serious pro and simply repost Thomas Friedman’s editorial from yesterday’s New York Times.

 

Donald Trump Voters, Just Hear Me Out – Thomas Friedman, NYT November 2, 2016

This is my last column until after the election, so I’d like to address the people least likely to read it: Donald Trump voters. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get lucky and a few of them will buy fish wrapped in this column, and they’ll accidentally peruse it! Desperate times call for desperate measures.

While I’ve opposed the Trump candidacy from the start, I’ve never disparaged Trump voters. Some are friends and neighbors; they’re all fellow Americans. We should take their concerns seriously. But we should also demand that they be serious, that they draw distinctions between these two presidential candidates.

Yes, Hillary Clinton is a flawed leader — but in the way so many presidents were. We know her flaws: She has a weakness for secrecy, occasionally fudges truths, has fawning aides and a husband who lacks discipline when it comes to moneymaking and women. But she is not indecent, and that is an important distinction. And she’s studious, has sought out people of substance on every issue and has taken the job of running for president seriously.

Trump is not only a flawed politician, he’s an indecent human being. He’s boasted of assaulting women — prompting 11 to come forward to testify that he did just that to them; his defense is that he could not have assaulted these women because they weren’t pretty enough.

He’s created a university that was charged with defrauding its students. He’s been charged with discriminating against racial minorities in his rental properties. He’s stiffed countless vendors, from piano sellers to major contractors. He’s refused to disclose his tax returns because they likely reveal that he’s paid no federal taxes for years, is in bed with dodgy financiers and doesn’t give like he says to charity.

He’s compared the sacrifice of parents of a soldier killed in Iraq to his “sacrifice” of building tall buildings. He’s vowed, if elected, to prosecute his campaign rival.

We have never seen such behaviors in a presidential candidate.

At the same time, Trump has shown no ability to talk about any policy issue with any depth. Harlan Coben’s debate-night tweet last month had it right: “On Aleppo he sounds like a fifth grader giving a book report on a book he never read.”

I understand why many Trump supporters have lost faith in Washington and want to just “shake things up.” When you shake things up with a studied plan and a clear idea of where you want to get to, you can open new futures. But when you shake things up, guided by one-liners and no moral compass, you can cause enormous instability and systemic vertigo.

But there is an even more important reason Trump supporters, particularly less-educated white males, should be wary of his bluster: His policies won’t help them. Trump promises to bring their jobs back. But most of their jobs didn’t go to a Mexican. They went to a microchip.

The idea that large numbers of manual factory jobs can be returned to America if we put up a wall with Mexico or renegotiate our trade deals is a fantasy. Trump ignores the fact that manufacturing is still by far the largest sector of the U.S. economy. Indeed, our factories now produce twice what they did in 1984 — but with one-third fewer workers.

Trump can’t change that. Machines and software will keep devouring, and spawning, more work of all kinds. Did you hear that IBM’s cognitive computer, Watson, helped to create a pop song, “Not Easy,” with the Grammy-winning producer Alex da Kid? The song was released on Oct. 21, IBM noted, and within 48 hours it climbed to No. 4 on iTunes’s Hot Tracks.

No one knows for certain how we deal with this new race with and against machines, but I can assure you it’s not Trump’s way — build walls, restrict trade, give huge tax cuts to the rich. The best jobs in the future are going to be what I call “STEMpathy jobs — jobs that blend STEM skills (science, technology, engineering, math) with human empathy. We don’t know what many of them will look like yet.

The smartest thing we can do now is to keep our economy as open and flexible as possible — to get the change signals first and be able to quickly adapt; create the opportunity for every American to engage in lifelong learning, because whatever jobs emerge will require more knowledge; make sure that learning stresses as much of the humanities and human interactive skills as hard sciences; make sure we have an immigration policy that continues to attract the world’s most imaginative risk-takers; and strengthen our safety nets, because this era will leave more people behind.

This is the only true path to American greatness in the 21st century. Trump wants to make America great in ways that are just not available anymore. “What do we have to lose” by trying his way? Trump asks. The answer is: everything that actually makes us great. When the world gets this fast, small errors in navigation have huge consequences.

While Clinton has failed to inspire, her instincts and ideas will keep us hewing to basically the right course. And however great her flaws, she is still in the zone of human decency. Trump is not.

We can never be great as a country with a president with the warped values of Donald Trump. I pray that in the end at least some Trump voters, my fellow Americans, will see that.

Friedman’s piece is not only deadly accurate, but his commentary about Trump’s claims that he’ll bring back manufacturing jobs to those displaced by technology and globalization are particularly relevant to this blog. And as absurd as Trump’s claims are, his scathing criticism of Obama’s record on the economy (which remains the envy of the world) and job creation are equally as preposterous.

Since October of 2010, 13.8 million jobs have been added to the U.S. economy, unemployment is sitting at 5%, we have been in a ‘Full Employment’ environment since at least April/May, and wage inflation is continuing to spread across the entire economy which has helped narrow the massive and debilitating inequality gap that has plagued the nation for far too long. So by all measures, not only is the economy in solid shape considering the global backdrop, but the U.S. labor market has remained strong despite a constant barrage of global and political challenges.

In regard to the overall economy, James Stock, a Harvard economist, stated recently that annual growth during the current recovery is 1.74% below the past 3 recoveries, and he estimates that 0.8% of the shortfall can be accounted for by insufficient government spending and weak demand for U.S. exports. Similar challenges have buffeted the U.S. labor market. As Jeffrey Young at Deep Macro wrote yesterday:

 

Stepping back from the monthly numbers, the performance of the US labor market has been solid, considering the shocks that have been thrown at it. We tend to dismiss factors such as the European sovereign crisis, the fiscal cliff, the “Taper Tantrum”, actual tapering and the first Fed rate hike, the emerging market rout of 2015, the strong USD, the oil price collapse, and China instability. But they were big at the time, and figured prominently in the reasons Fed officials cited to run easy policy. The irony is that the US labor market has passed all these hurdles, if not with flying colors, then with only minor scratches and dents. Jobs creation remains firm and very stable.

 

And that trend will continue tomorrow when the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a net gain of 105,000 jobs in October. That may seem like a disappointing number, and it’s definitely below the average monthly job gains of 178,000 so far this year, but it’s well within the range that economists now estimate is required to absorb new entrants into the labor market.

 

Our forecast is based on the decline in new and total job openings we saw on LinkUp’s job search engine in September. As the table below indicates, the declines we’ve seen in new and total job openings in LinkUp’s data since July are perfectly correlated to the diminishing monthly net job gains since June’s peak.

 

Screen Shot 2016-11-03 at 11.29.08 AM

 

Based on our forecasting model, which applies a paired-month methodology to LinkUp’s job openings data (sourced every day directly from 30,000 company websites), we expect that October’s net job gains will come in below September’s net job gains and below consensus estimates. But again, beyond the likely headlines that point to the slowing monthly job gains over the past 4 months, the labor market is one that should still be regarded as a healthy, albeit aging, tortoise rather than a sick hare. We expect wages to rise, long-term unemployment to fall, the labor force participation rate to move up, and unemployment to rise due to new entrants into the labor market (which would be a positive sign). And because October is always a tricky month to forecast (no pun intended) because of seasonal hiring, there is a chance that job gains could surprise to the upside.

Although it’s a bit of a glass-half-full perspective given that new job openings fell by 5%, total job gains in October did rise by 1%.

 

Screen Shot 2016-11-01 at 5.46.19 PM

 

Similarly, LinkUp’s Job Duration metric continues to point to accelerated hiring. Although October’s Job Duration of 45 days rose from 42 days last month, it remains well below February’s peak of 56 days. As we’ve speculated in past forecasts, the longer duration earlier this year was due to the fact that labor demand was far greater than supply – companies simply could not find people to fill their open positions. More recently, as wages have risen slightly and more people who had been on the sidelines are now entering the job market, employers are hiring people as fast as possible.

 

Screen Shot 2016-11-02 at 9.18.02 AM

 

So despite the fact that average monthly job gains are declining as the current recovery extends out further and further…

 

Screen Shot 2016-11-03 at 12.24.34 PM

 

…we expect job growth to remain slow, steady, and resilient. That is, of course, barring an apocalyptic victory of Donald Trump next Tuesday in which case we’d expect all hell to break loose.

So please vote, and take to heart what Louis C.K. said last night on Conan:

“If you vote for Hillary, you’re a grown-up. If you vote for Trump, you’re a sucker. And if you don’t vote, you’re an asshole.”

 

 

November 2, 2016 / Molly Moseley

Voting and employees: How employers help to smooth the path to the polls

vote_500x279Whether you want to “make America great again,” you believe we are “stronger together,” or you’re backing one of the third-party options, you’ll join millions of people making their journey to the polls on November 8.

If you work, though, finding time to vote can be difficult. That can mean getting up at the crack of dawn to vote before work, skipping out during your lunch break in hopes lines aren’t too long, or potentially waiting for hours at poll stations in the evening after work.

This stress makes it incredibly hard for employees to do their civic duty. Unfortunately, if the process becomes too cumbersome or time-consuming, some people may skip the polls altogether.

Due to these reasons and more, legislative efforts have been aimed at making Election Day a national holiday. While at face value this may seem like a great idea, the movement has seen a fair amount of backlash. Think about it: just like any other federal holiday, banks, colleges and some big businesses may shut down. Other organizations, however, would stay open, such as retailers, restaurants, health-care groups and small businesses. These employees wouldn’t necessarily get time off to vote, plus they’d be busier due to the flood of additional customers who do have the day off.

Fortunately, there is an easy solution: Employers can help employees make it to the polls no matter where they live.

The first step is to understand each state’s laws about voting. Some state’s require employers to provide paid time off to employees so they can vote. Some states allow time off to vote, but employees must use PTO. Others have no laws on the books regarding this subject.

No matter which laws apply to employers, it’s important to be accommodating to employees who need to vote. Not only does this show that the employer truly cares, but it also encourages higher voter turnout in the local communities. Here are four smart ideas:

Voluntary time off
According to The Wall Street Journal, some companies are aiding the democratic processes by voluntarily closing the office and providing paid time off to employees. Consider joining them by offering employees a full or half-day off.

Late start or early release
Consider delaying start of business or close of business by two hours. Have employees set their out-of-office messages to reflect these details.

Make up time
Allow employees the option to take off as much time as they need to vote as long as they make up that time within a reasonable period, such as a week.

Work from home
If your business has the capability for remote working, declare a work-from-home day for the entire office. This eliminates commuting time and allows people to be closer to their local polling station.

Additionally, consider fun ways to encourage voting. (Just make sure you never promote a certain candidate or political party.) For example, if you collect a certain number of “I voted” stickers, the company could cater lunch or sponsor an outing for employees.

See you at the polls!

October 26, 2016 / Stephanie Anderson

5 strategies to survive the job-search waiting game

shutterstock_405214933Virtually everyone experiences a smorgasbord of emotions during their job search. One day you’re excited and optimistic, but the next you’re stressed and worried. Whether you’re waiting for a recruiter’s phone call or the results post-interview, it can go back and forth many times before you finally land the job you really want.

Patience and positivity are key for a successful job search. However, as the saying goes, “It’s easier said than done,” and a job search journey is full of ups and downs. What can job seekers do to maintain momentum and manage those stressful emotions? Consider these five proven strategies:

Manage expectations

You’ll likely apply for many jobs. Odds are you won’t get as many invitations to interview. It’s important to manage your expectations and concentrate on the positives of each experience. Every interview allows you to fine tune your answers to important questions. The people you meet could be valuable additions to your professional network. The job you ultimately turn down because it’s not a great fit could lead you to your dream job.

Hold a power pose

Amy Cuddy of the Harvard Business School points to research that shows, “simply holding one’s body in expansive, “high-power” poses for as little as two minutes stimulates higher levels of testosterone (the hormone linked to power and dominance in the animal and human worlds) and lower levels of cortisol (the ‘stress’ hormone that can, over time, cause impaired immune functioning, hypertension, and memory loss).”

Focus on what you control

You can’t control everything during a job search. Hope and prayer can’t get your resume through the applicant tracking system. You will never know the qualities other candidates bring to the table. You have no influence over the mood the recruiter is in when you speak to him or her. Instead, focus your energy on the things that you can really impact, such as fine tuning your resume, attending industry events and using LinkedIn strategically.

Maintain structure

With so many steps involved in a job search, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. When you crave control and end up with chaos, it’s time to reevaluate. Get your files in order, create step-by-step processes and make a daily schedule for your job hunt. For example, spend the first hour of each day on critical job hunting tasks and then give yourself a break for the rest of the day.

Be self-aware

Think about the moments that stress you most during a job search so you can mentally prepare for those situations. Is it the night before an interview? Is it when you haven’t heard back from a recruiter? Stay motivated by figuring out ways to deal with stress when those events occur.

For example, ask people when you can expect to hear back so you can track those deadlines and follow up as needed. On interview days, try relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation or deep-breathing exercises. If something unexpected occurs, give yourself the day off from job searching activities and start again tomorrow with a fresh mindset.

October 21, 2016 / Stephanie Anderson

Want to work smarter, not harder? Unplug and watch productivity soar

shutterstock_279658379The movement to unplug from work so you can plug into life is gaining steam. While you often hear about this concept in relation to parenthood or traveling, it’s equally important when at work.

Technology has transformed the workplace in many positive ways, but it has come with some negative consequences. Multitasking is the new norm, plus phone alerts and beeps create plenty of non-work-related distractions throughout the day.

It seems counter-intuitive, but silencing your phone, closing social media and ignoring email alerts just might be the secret to being a superstar worker. That’s because you have only so much brain power at your disposal, and if you try to balance too many tasks at once, you spread that power out so thin that you’re no longer as effective as you should be.

A recent CNN report, for example, looks at an MRI of someone driving. Then, that MRI is compared to another that shows the driver trying to multitask. “If you just layer in one more thing — if the person is listening while they are driving — all of a sudden the amount of attention, the amount of brain bandwidth going toward driving decreases by about 37 percent. So you’re not multi-tasking, you’ve actually reduced the amount of attention you’re now paying to your driving.”

Now think about that and how multitasking impacts your work. “A study at the University of London found that participants who multitasked during cognitive tasks experienced IQ score declines that were similar to what they’d expect if they had smoked marijuana or stayed up all night. IQ drops of 15 points for multitasking men lowered their scores to the average range of an 8-year-old child,” according to Forbes.

So even though you think you can talk on the phone, send an email and read a text message all at once, you’re really just impairing your cognitive control and ultimately becoming a less effective worker. To work smarter, not harder, it’s time to unplug.

In general, people can focus on tasks for a maximum of 90–120 minutes at a time. If you can create a schedule that allows you to work in increments with breaks in between, you just may find you get much more done in the day.

This strategy is called time blocking. Planning ahead in this manner allows you to be mentally prepared, have better focus, feel less stressed and be more productive. Essentially you block out your entire day with tasks and try to stick with the schedule as much as possible. It’s not just good for work projects, either. You can also block time for checking email and taking a lunch break.

For time blocking to work well, it’s essential to unplug. Silence your phone, close your email, turn your IM to busy and resist the urge to check social media for cute pictures of your niece. Do this for one week and see how much work you get done. I have a feeling you might be surprised.

October 14, 2016 / Stephanie Anderson

LinkedIn Open Candidate: The hidden signal to recruiters that you’re open to opportunities

You’ve decided it’s time to look for a new job and you know LinkedIn is ripe with recruiters scouring the social media platform for top talent. You want to signal that you’re in the market and open to new opportunities, but you don’t want it to be detrimental to your current position.

Until recently, the most common way to alert recruiters you’re job searching would be to update your headline with terms like “Seeking new opportunities” or “Available for hire now.” The problem is these alerts are instant giveaways to your current colleagues that you’re hoping to leave soon. Do you really want your boss to visit your profile and see you’ve basically got one foot out the door? Not likely.

LinkedIn has eliminated this dilemma with a cool new feature called Open Candidate. Now you can privately signal to recruiters that you’re considering new opportunities without having to plaster it on your profile. What’s more, the feature hides the signal from recruiters at your company or affiliated company recruiters, so you don’t have to worry about current employees discovering your plans.

How does it work? Simply visit the LinkedIn Jobs homepage and click on the “Preferences” tab. Toggle the switch to the on position, and then fill out some brief information about what types of jobs are of most interest to you as well as which industries and locations. Then bam! You’ll now be elevated in search and recommendation algorithms that recruiters use, which hopefully means you’ll learn about more opportunities.

While this new option is wonderful for job seekers and recruiters alike, it’s not being welcomed as enthusiastically by job boards. Sites like Indeed and Monster require candidates to post their resumes so they can actively hunt for a new position in the job postings. Now, with Open Candidate activated, professionals can gain recruiters’ attention without all that hassle.

Will they use these job boards any less? Maybe, maybe not. Active candidates are likely to go through multiple channels to find a job. But what about the thousands of candidates who are open to new positions but not aggressively searching? For these types of professionals, Open Candidate is the easiest solution for letting recruiters know they’re listening, plus it takes about a minute to activate.

Because LinkUp is a job search engine (not a job board) that only features real job listings culled directly from employer websites, Open Candidate will not affect us. We don’t house candidate resumes; we simply provide the industry’s best way to find authentic jobs quickly and efficiently. In fact, we think Open Candidate is a great new feature that will empower job seekers, and we can’t wait to hear more about how it impacts their journey.