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April 1, 2015 / Toby Dayton

LinkUp Forecasting Solid Job Gains In March But Down Slightly From February

As a result of having broken my left wrist while snowboarding in Colorado last week (Sun Down Bowl, Forever), I will be honoring the December 20, 1980 Jets-Dolphins game with this month’s non-farm payroll (NFP) forecast. During that historic broadcast nearly 35 years ago, NBC’s Don Ohlmeyer decided to eliminate the play-by-play crew in an effort to increase the ratings for what he called a “dog of a game.” So in tribute to that game (but mostly because one-handed typing is ridiculous), I am eliminating the play-by-play for this month’s NFP blog post.

 

Jobs by State March 2015

 

Jobs by Category March 2015

 

Job Duration March 2015

 

March 2015 NFP Forecast

I do have to make one comment given that our forecast might appear a bit anomalous given our projected decrease in net job gains from the prior month despite a 10.2% increase in the blended average between new and total job openings on LinkUp in February. The forecast of a net gain of 275,000 jobs in March, which is 20,000 jobs less than the 295,000 jobs gained in February, is due to the fact that the blended average of new and total jobs in LinkUp’s job search engine (which indexes 3 million jobs from 50,000 corporate websites) fell by 0.8% in February (see last month’s new and total ‘Jobs by State’ chart).

The 10.2% in the table above results from our paired-month methodology in which we use two sets of data points for February – the first when comparing February to January and the second when comparing February to March. In looking back at historical data, it appears that in months like February where job listings actually fell from January but the blended average using the paired-month methodology shows a positive gain, the negative number becomes the overriding factor. This was the case in April and May of 2013 and again in June and July of 2014. This refinement to our forecasting model would have rectified 3 of those 4 forecasts and we’ll see if that holds true again with Friday’s numbers.

And in the event that our methodology remains somewhat or perhaps entirely opaque, rest assured that there is a method to the madness – a method, in fact, that resulted in LinkUp being the 3rd most accurate forecaster among participants in Bloomberg’s monthly NFP survey for 2013 and 2014.

Bloomberg NFP Rankings 2013 & 2014

 

I hope our streak continues and that this latest tweak to our model doesn’t turn this month’s prediction into a dog of a forecast.

 

 

jobdigSnowboardDog

April 1, 2015 / Stephanie Anderson

Should you disclose a disability in a job interview?

shutterstock_225202837Nearly one in five Americans has a disability, according to estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. If you’re one of them, you might question if and when you should disclose your disability to potential employers. The answer, because every situation is different, is there is no right answer.

You’re probably familiar with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a qualified applicant with a disability. Unfortunately, false assumptions are still made during the interview process, and they could jeopardize your chances of getting hired. So what’s your best course of action? Below we provide some important considerations, when deciding whether or not you should proactively discuss a disability with a potential employer.

Is your disability apparent?

Your approach will likely depend on the type of disability you have. For example, a physical disability that requires use of a wheelchair is obvious when you meet an employe, thus your wheelchair is disclosing for you. On the other hand, a cognitive disability, such as autism or PTSD, is often not apparent unless disclosed. Many disabilities, like sleep disorders and fibromyalgia, are hidden and therefore it’s your choice when and how you bring up the situation, if at all.

When you may choose not to disclose

Some of the top reasons people choose not to bring up a disability include being viewed as less capable than others or being treated differently due to misconceptions. If the disability isn’t apparent and doesn’t affect your job performance, it would make sense not to mention it at all. Or if you are qualified to perform the essential functions of the position with reasonable accommodations, you may choose not to disclose in the interview, but after a job offer. Just don’t forget that in order to receive ADA protection against discrimination, an employer must be informed.

While it is illegal to discriminate against a qualified applicant because of their disability, it does happen. Additionally, some employers place a higher priority on support for disabilities than others. If you are choosing not to disclose because you are afraid a particular employer will discriminate, do you really want to work for that employer anyway?

Choosing when disclose

Although you may not be able to control your disability, you can control how and when you communicate it to an employer, if you choose to do so at all. Many people opt not to disclose a disability on an application or cover letter unless the employer is actively looking to hire people with disabilities, in which case being forthright is a clear advantage. They feel they can then be placed on an even playing field against other candidates where skill and merit are the focus.

If you would prefer to discuss your disability prior to an interview, you could mention it in the cover letter or subtly in your resume. Two easy ways are adding a bullet point about your volunteer experience at a nonprofit focused on your disability or participation/award in a disability-related activity. This provides a clear opportunity to discuss it during the interview process.

Disclosing in an interview

Bringing up a disability during an interview can be advantageous because you can address the situation head-on and give examples of why your disability is not an obstacle to your ability to do the job well. Don’t be afraid to lead the conversation. If you need a great segue, bring it up when asked “What are your strengths?” Communicate how your disability has enabled you to think outside the box and look at problems through a creative lens. Or, perhaps your disability has given you a fantastic work ethic or allowed you to be a particularly strong team player; support these statements with examples. This technique lets you easily turn a perceived negative into a shining positive.

Remember, ADA says an employer cannot ask you questions directly related to your disability, but they can ask about your ability to perform the job. For example, an interviewer can ask about your ability to lift a certain amount, stand for a specified time period or do skilled tasks such as math or typing. Stay calm and answer truthfully, offer reassurance that you can perform the tasks, and discuss any necessary and reasonable accommodations that you’ll need.

Disclosing once hired

Finally, some people won’t bring up a hidden disability until after they are hired or even later during the course of employment. Beyond protection from discrimination in the hiring process, ADA requires that employers offer disabled workers “reasonable accommodations” to perform a job, such as special software or an altered workspace design, but you need to be the one to request the accommodation and drive the conversation.

No matter when you choose to disclose information about your disability, you can do so on a need-to-know basis. That may mean only your supervisor and human resources team needs to know and not your immediate co-workers.

Always remember you are entitled to being treated respectfully and confidentially, and that reasonable work-related accommodations can be requested. Visit eeoc.gov for more information about the ADA and what it means to applicants.

March 25, 2015 / Stephanie Anderson

The grass isn’t always greener: 7 reasons not to quit your job

shutterstock_127903568Just a few years ago, struggling to find or keep a job was common across the country. Most people were happy to be employed and few were considering quitting to follow a dream or to find greener pastures. Fast-forward to today and folks are singing a vastly different tune.

Now that the economy has improved and unemployment is down, people are seeking better opportunities. Daily headlines tout reasons why you should quit your job or discover your passion. Doing so is a good thing … if you are truly unsatisfied. Unfortunately, what often gets overlooked in the excitement of a possible new opportunity is all the positive things that having tenure at your current job provide you.

In fact, if you think about it, there’s probably a lot of really great reasons NOT to quit your job. Before you make the jump, consider this list of seven compelling reasons you should stay at the job you currently have.

1. You don’t have another job lined up
This is pretty self explanatory, but before you have a bad day and decide on a whim to throw in the towel and give your notice, step back and take a deep breath. It’s best to quit when you don’t have the pressure of needing a new job immediately.

2. There is room for upward growth
If your company provides opportunities to learn and you regularly see hardworking employees promoted to more senior-level positions, consider staying. This means there’s room for you to climb the corporate ladder, and there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to do that at a new job.

3. Your “total rewards” are impressive
A lot of people look for a new job in order to get a higher salary. Remember that compensation is just one piece of your benefits package. If your current company offers amazing benefits, it might be worthwhile to stay. Consider your total rewards, including health insurance, time off, work-life balance, etc. Just because your paycheck may be higher at another company, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting more.

4. You have solid advocates
Relationships take time to build. Starting a new job means everyone is getting to know you, and for some, you might even be competition. If you have great advocates at your current company who will vouch for your work and abilities, it’s a huge asset, particularly if you want a promotion, sizable raise or the chance to spearhead new projects.

5. You believe in your current company
Some people go to a job and feel like complete sell-outs. Others are driven to work hard because they believe in the company’s mission and/or the products produced. If you’re one of them, staying will mean feeling more engaged, fulfilled and connected to your career. This can influence your level of happiness at work and at home.

6. You genuinely like your co-workers and supervisor
A new job can look pretty on paper, but it can be hard to predict what your new co-workers will be like. If you have some amazing relationships with your immediate coworkers and you genuinely like your boss, consider staying. Even a great job can’t trump lazy co-workers or a crabby supervisor.

7. You’re going through a mid-life crisis
Sometimes there are things going on in life that cause us to make rash decisions. If you’re going through the proverbial mid-life crisis, don’t go wild and quit your job. Doing so may be a major mistake you’ll regret in just a few months. It’s best to pause while other things in your life settle before making major career decisions.

 

March 13, 2015 / Molly Moseley

Secrets to creating an award-winning career site

CareerSiteSecretsFromLinkUp (2)A company’s career website isn’t just for facilitating the application process – it’s one of the most important tools businesses can use to lure talent and educate them about the workplace culture and open opportunities. So how effective is your current career website?

From the most minimalist, bare-bones career pages that embrace a utilitarian approach to elaborate multi-tiered portals that offer would-be employees valuable insights, we’ve seen it all. It’s best to focus on quality versus quantity; more content isn’t always better if it is poorly organized, causes confusion or is disruptive to the application process.

For an example of a stellar career portal, check out UnitedHealth Group (careers.unitedhealthgroup.com), which was last year’s winner of our Top Ranked Fortune 500 Career Portals. Even if your company is much smaller or has fewer resources, you can still take cues from some notable features on the site, such as a search button on the career homepage, links to the company career blog and the option to meet with recruiters.

If you think your company’s career website could use a refresh, consider these simple things you can do to start the process of revitalizing the portal and empowering prospective employees:

1. Take the journey yourself
Put yourself in the shoes of a potential applicant and go through the entire education and application process yourself. By going through the steps and looking at it through a different lens, you can discover opportunities for improvement. If you think you might be too biased as a company employee, ask a friend who works externally to go through the process and provide critiques.

2. Add a careers link to the homepage
How do prospective employees find your career website? Is it easily visible from the main homepage or do they have to click multiple times in order to find it? Making it easy to navigate to this section of your site is key to engaging applicants and streamlining the educational process.

3. Convey the company culture
Every hiring manager knows that it’s not just an employee’s credentials that count; the right person will be a good fit for the company culture as well. Use the website to give valuable insight into what the culture is like and what type of person will be a successful employee. Great additions include employee profiles, event photos, day-in-the-life videos and links to social media.

4. Improve job descriptions
Even if you have all the career portal bells and whistles, if your job titles and descriptions are lacking, you’re failing yourself and losing opportunities to attract talent. Good job descriptions should be clear and concise. Skip block paragraphs and use bullets instead. The details should focus on the job itself rather than lengthy company information (which should be located on a separate section of the career site).

For more tips about effective ways to improve your career website to streamline the talent-acquisition process, check out our white paper here about Top Rated Career Websites.

Do you already work for a company with an awesome career site? We are now accepting nominations for the 2015 Top Career Site award! Nominate your company today!

March 5, 2015 / Toby Dayton

The 2015 NFP Roller Coaster Ride Starts Tomorrow

In perhaps the biggest understatement of the week, we are a bit of an outlier for tomorrow’s NFP jobs number. Of the 94 estimates, not only are we the highest, but we’re nearly 60% above the median estimate and 80,000 jobs above the next highest estimate.

NFP_2015.03.05

Our estimate is based on the steep increase we saw in new and total job openings on LInkUp in January, which we expect preceded an increase in hiring in February. In addition to all the data we typically look at (and wrote about earlier this week with our forecast and related analysis), another important data point we examine provides, at best, some mixed signals as the projected hiring in Q1.

LinkUp’s ‘Job Duration’ report shows the length in days of jobs that have rolled off the site during the prior 6 months. So in February, for example and as depicted in the inset graphic below, job listings that rolled off of LinkUp between September and February (presumably because they were filled) had been on our job search engine for an average of just under 48 days. As that same inset graphic shows, the pace of hiring or ‘velocity’ accelerated dramatically last year, dropping from 51 days in April to 41 days in October. Since October, the average job duration has risen to 48 days.

Jobs Duration Feb 2015 (2)

Of course, the lengthening duration can be interpreted in a number of ways. During the Great Recession, companies simply decreased the volume and pace of hiring. For the fewer jobs that were being filled, employers could also be very selective in their hiring process due to the fact that labor supply was much greater than labor demand. Those factors clearly led to a slowdown in hiring or a longer ‘Job Duration.’

In the current environment, our interpretation is that demand is now greater than supply, and companies are finding it increasingly difficult to fill their openings. While that is great news for job seekers, unemployment, wage growth, and the U.S. economy in general (at least up to a point), it definitely will have an impact on monthly net job growth. With demand finally outweighing supply, wages will start to climb (which we are just beginning to see in the past few months on a large-scale basis), voluntary quits will continue to increase, and general ‘churn’ in the labor market should increase quite a bit. In general, all of those things point to continued momentum around a strengthening labor market, but they will take place in fits and starts across different job categories, sectors of the economy, and regions of the country. While we expect that job growth will remain strong over the course of the year (see our February forecast and our call for a net gain of 4 million jobs in 2015), there will undoubtedly be volatility in the monthly numbers with lots of revisions of significant magnitude. It should be a pretty fun roller coaster ride, and we look forward to our first big thrill tomorrow morning.

March 3, 2015 / Toby Dayton

Strong Growth In January Job Openings Points To Above-Consensus February Jobs Estimate

Following a strong year of net job gains, a year in which just over 3 million new jobs were added to the U.S. economy (finally!), it looks like 2015 will be an even stronger year. But of course, any forecast relating to sustained job growth for the year, especially one made on March 3rd, rests on a huge number of assumptions even in the best of circumstances and in the most ‘normal’ of times (as if such a time does, in fact, exist). But these are no ordinary times, and the list of potential issues that could derail a strengthening labor market include, among countless others:

• Geopolitical risk throughout the world (Russia, Syria, ISIS, Israel/Iran, etc.)

• U.S. currency

• Low oil prices (which could go either way and maybe off-set)

• Totally dysfunctional and inept Congress that refuses (for about the 5th year in a row) to address any real issues impacting the U.S. economy

• Uncertainty about the timing of the Fed’s move on raising interest rates and what impact it might have on the economy

• China, Europe, Greece, South America….(and the list goes on and on….)

• Markets that appear to be reaching (have reached?) designation as over-valued and should (have to?) correct at some point

Needless to say, the list of potential risks to the U.S. jobs market is long and frightening. And nagging in everyone’s mind should be the number of times over the past 5 years that we started the year off with decent numbers in Q1, only to be disappointed (or more accurately – CRUSHED) as the jobs market petered out in subsequent quarters.

But having said all that, 2015 got off to a terrific start in January with a net gain of 257,000 jobs added to the U.S. economy. And based on the strong increase in job openings in LinkUp’s job search engine in January (new job posts up 24% and total job posts up 9%), we are forecasting an even better month in February with a net gain of 370,000 last month. (We won’t even attempt to account for the possible impact that crazy blizzards might have had in job gains last month, but if hiring was down in February because of the horrible weather, we should see that labor demand being met in March with higher-than-expected numbers this month).

Feb 2015 Forecast

Unfortunately in February, the growth in job openings cooled off a bit (perhaps also due, in part, to the fact that no one in the eastern half of the country was in the office much during the snowy month to post new openings on their company career portals). As the chart below shows, new job openings by state fell 3% while total job openings by state increased only 2%. Perhaps most concerning, 32 states reported a decline in new job openings.

Jobs By State Feb 2015

New and total job openings by category shows a similar picture, with new job postings falling 4% from January and total job openings rising a scant 1% from the prior month.

Jobs By Category Feb 2015

But the blended average of new and total job openings still rose nearly 2%, and as a result, our preliminary forecast for March is still a very robust gain of 415,000 jobs. That would put Q1 2015 net job growth at just over 1 million, surpassing even the phenomenal quarter we had to close out 2014. 

Jobs By Qtr 2011-2015

LinkUp Forecasts Net Gain of 4.1 Million Jobs in 2015

To gain additional perspective on the recent state of the labor market, I thought it would make sense to compare the past few years of actual job growth to the seasonal hiring trends that strongly characterize the U.S. labor market in a ‘normal’ environment. The chart below graphs average monthly recruitment advertising revenue of JobDig and LinkUp (JobDig is the parent company that owns LinkUp) over the past 13 years.

In almost every year, revenue starts off in January at the lowest point for the year as companies typically take a month or two to kick off their hiring plans for the year. Hiring then picks up considerably through Q2, plateaus a bit in the summer, peaks in Q3, and then tapers off in Q4. Keep in mind, the chart below depicts recruitment advertising which always precedes actual hiring or net job growth. (Hence our common refrain and well-grounded assumption that the best indicator of a future job being added to the economy is when a company advertises that opening or, better yet, posts that job on its own corporate career portal).

Average alone

In looking at net job gains in 2011, 2012, and 2013, it’s clear that hiring in those years did not track in the least bit with traditional seasonal hiring trends at any point during those 36 months. Recall that in each of those 3 years, early jobs momentum (with endless references to ‘green shoots’) crumbled as the year progressed.

2011-2013

But in 2014, hiring patterns finally returned to normal, with job gains once again tracking strongly to traditional seasonal hiring trends. It is this graph that also points to the very strong correlation between job openings in one period (call it period t) and job growth (or decline) in the next period (t + 1).

2014

If we were to map out monthly job gains in 2015 with near-perfect correlation to historical seasonality trends, the graph of monthly jobs gains for the year would resemble the chart below (which adjusts for the approximated 45-day lag between job openings appearing on a corporate career portal and those jobs being filled with new hires).

2015 Forecast 4M

With all the standard qualifications about assumptions, risk factors, hypothetical scenarios, and forward-looking statements, the graphic above depicts a scenario in which just over 4 million new jobs are added to the U.S. economy in 2015.

annual net job growth 2011-2015

Without a doubt, it’s early in the year to be making predictions about a second consecutive year with 30+% growth in jobs, even considering that the annual growth rate of 32.2% we envision above is slightly less than the 32.9% growth in jobs we saw in 2014. But with the strong start to 2015 and the ‘return to normal’ we saw last year with monthly job gains once again mapping closely to historical seasonality trends, our baseline forecast for the year calls for a net gain of 4.1 million jobs. Let’s hope those $#@!%#$& ‘green shoots’ can maintain their immunity to any Round Up that might come their way this year.

March 3, 2015 / Stephanie Anderson

Layoff rumors? Position yourself for success after the pink slip

shutterstock_166310288Have layoff rumors been floating around your place of work? The thought of losing your job can leave a lump in your stomach and a sour taste in your mouth.

No one likes the stress of wondering each day if it might be your last at work, but even in good economic times businesses can and will lay off employees for a variety of reasons. The best thing is to know the signs and be prepared for the next step in your career. While difficult at first, a layoff might be the reason you find a better job with even better benefits.

Indicators of upcoming layoffs

When large companies plan layoffs, many employees are well aware that they might be on the chopping block in the near future. Other times, a layoff can come out of the blue. To avoid being completely blindsided, here are some key indicators of a potential upcoming layoff:

  • Co-workers have already been let go and there has been no communication that it’s an isolated event.
  • Co-workers are proactively leaving their positions to find new opportunities out of fear they may not have a job in the future.
  • You notice something different about how management communicates about future plans and employee functions.
  • Annual raises and bonuses have been eliminated or significantly reduced.
  • Employee developmental programs are being discontinued.
  • Co-workers are openly discussing their concern for the future of the company and their jobs.
  • Online buzz is brewing on message boards like www.thelayoff.com. (Note: Beware of message board information. While some posts may be accurate, many posts are blatantly false, created only to damage a company’s reputation, not to mention cause unnecessary stress for worried employees.)

Knowing the signs of a layoff is a start, but to protect your best interests it’s best to be prepared before the pink slip comes. Here are 10 simple yet highly effective ways to prepare yourself for a layoff so you can survive and thrive in the future:

1. Organize your job search
Job hunting is time consuming, so you should be prepared to hit the ground running by organizing your search now. Update your resume, assess your list of references and decide on a strategy for getting another position. Be sure to leverage LinkUp’s 5-Step Job Search action plan template.

2. Network
Make networking activities part of your daily routine. Connect with friends, former colleagues, past clients, etc. Join a professional association and start attending meetings. Get your name out there.

3. Update LinkedIn
As part of your networking efforts, make sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date and active. Don’t forget to upload a fresh head shot, post articles and remain active in conversations.

4. Set up job alerts
Set up parameters on LinkUp to have job alerts sent directly to you. You can start applying for jobs of interest before you even get the notice.

5. Order your finances
Cut back on spending and try to boost your savings as much as possible. It’s smart to live below your means and have a nest egg to fall back on.

6. Use your benefits
Schedule doctor and dentist appointments now and don’t forget about expense reports and reimbursement programs. A layoff means dramatic changes to these benefits.

7. Negotiate severance
If you are offered a severance package, you may be able to negotiate for more money or better terms. Don’t feel pressured to sign anything immediately; simply ask how long you have to review and leverage legal council if necessary before responing.

8. Understand unemployment
Learn about unemployment benefits and how to apply for them in the state where you work. Many unemployment offices let you apply and manage benefits completely online.

9. Gather info
While you never want to take confidential or proprietary information that may get you in trouble, you will want to get necessary information prior to leaving. This could include important contact information only stored on your work computer or samples of work for your professional portfolio.

10. Ask for help
Even if you leave with a great severance package and a recommendation letter in hand, a layoff can be disheartening. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and lean on the support of friends and family so you can stay positive.

February 25, 2015 / Molly Moseley

Terrorism and the Workplace, Keeping Employees Safe

shutterstock_147973478Terrorist threats are plentiful around the globe, but when those threats hit close to home, it can be extremely concerning. The recent Al Shabaab threats to shopping centers, including the Mall of America here in the Twin Cities, have many people wondering about the safety of shoppers, as well as the thousands of employees who work in the retail center every day.

Sure, if you work in the military, intelligence community or at another high-risk job, it’s expected that you’ll face threats in your line of work. But for people who work at the various shops at the mall, it’s not likely what they signed up for when they started the job.

In reality, risks are widespread. “Truck drivers can get hijacked or involved in fatal accidents, armed robberies happen at warehouses, and hospitality workers often come across crime scenes when they clean rooms,” says Liz D’Aloia, founder of HR Virtuoso. “Employers should be aware of risks to their employees and mitigate them.”

It’s important for every employer to be proactive in keeping employees safe, and being prepared for the unexpected demonstrates you truly care. Be sure to provide an action plan to reference if something does occur, because in a crisis there is little time to think and quick action can make a big difference. Here are some things to consider:

Establish plans and procedures
The first step is to create plans. This includes evacuation routes, processes for involving the police, and the development of an emergency contact list. Depending on the threat, there may be different procedures to follow, so multiple plans will likely be needed. After all, an employee’s response to a fire will be different from his response to a robbery or bombing.

Make sure employees know what’s expected
When employees are armed with the right information, they will be able to act appropriately in an emergency. “HR needs to be working closely with regional, store managers and security to ensure that employees understand what they should do in the event of an actual attack, as well as what the company’s expectations are,” says Janine Truitt of Talent Think Innovations.

Train employees on what is considered suspicious activity
It can be difficult to know what is considered normal or abnormal activity. To make matters more confusing, this can also change depending on what industry they work in. Give employees clear examples of what should put them on alert and what they should do about it (call manager, law enforcement, security, etc.) The National Terror Alert website has guidance for getting started.

Keep open lines of communication with employees and be flexible
Encourage employees to voice any concerns they have and be open to their requests to work from home or take a leave of absence. “I suggest that employers should be sensitive to any ethnic, racial, religious, gender and other issues that might arise with terrorist threats. Consequently, leaves of absences could be one way to accommodate employee requests for time off due to threats,” says Charles Krugel, a human resources attorney and counselor.

Act quickly at the time of the incident
The more quickly a company can act to address threats and help employees, the better. “Immediately deploy HR staff along with counselors from the Employee Assistance Program. If the employer doesn’t have an EAP program, they can hire local therapists to assist,” says D’Aloia. “If an employee is traumatized by the event and is seeking medical care, the employee may be eligible for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.”

Update insurance policies
Make sure your business is protected by having the correct policies in place to cover high-level threats. One option is terrorism risk insurance. Furthermore, insurance companies can often provide quality resources for developing proper plans and procedures to ensure both the business and employees are prepared no matter what.

February 19, 2015 / Stephanie Anderson

5 simple tips to refresh your headshot

What does your LinkedIn profile picture say about you? As content on the web becomes increasingly more visual, pictures have become an integral component of our LinkedIn profiles. In fact, according to LinkedIn, you’re 14 times more likely to have your profile viewed if you have a headshot, and most people do. The real question now is, of all those LinkedIn profile pictures, does yours stand out?

Well, if it’s a cropped picture from the last wedding you were in, a selfie you took with your smart phone at your desk, or that picture of you with your three best friends in Cabo, probably not. I’d say it’s time for a headshot refresh.

Hiring a professional photographer can run anywhere from $50 to $500, but with any camera and a colleague you can update your profile picture, and maybe even your career. Here are LinkUp’s five no-fail photo techniques for a better headshot:

1. Utilize natural light

Flashes and fluorescent lighting cause harsh shadows and shiny spots. Find a window with good natural light to illuminate your face.

J3_2

Flash

J2_2

Fluorescent lighting

J1_2

Natural light

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Select the right wardrobe

When selecting your outfit, find something that is aligned with what you actually wear in your office and industry (business, business casual, or casual) and avoid busy patterns that could distract from your face.

HK5_3

Too casual

HK7_3

Too busy

HK3_2

Just right

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Find a clean background

The goal of a headshot is to highlight your face, don’t make it compete with the background.

TA2_2

Distracting color and shape

TA_2

Clean lines

TA3_2

Solid background

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Use a flattering angle

Taking headshots from an elevated angle flatters by slimming the face. Avoid shooting the image head-on or you’ll risk looking like a mugshot.

DC2_2

Head-on mugshot

SA2_2

Snag a stool and shoot

DC1_2

Flattering downward angle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Have a friend use your phone

We were able to use a Nikon D600 for our office photoshoot, but any point and shoot, or even your phone, will do if you utilize these tips. Be sure to avoid an unprofessional looking selfie, by having someone else take it for you.

IMG_0811

An obvious selfie

IMG_0809

Background distractions

SA1_2

Clean iPhone image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Follow LinkUp on LinkedIn and connect with me for more job search and career tips and tricks!

February 16, 2015 / Molly Moseley

Listen to the Buzz: Employees Prefer an Open Office

open office 3Last week’s post on open offices generated a lot of strong opinions in the comments on LinkedIn. I’m humbled by all of the “likes” and excited about the quality discussion on both sides of the debate. From people discussing building acoustics to offering their own advice on open-office courtesy and etiquette, everyone shared their two cents and no one held back! Thanks!

Some people felt our tips for staying productive were simply mechanisms to take people out of the open-office structure, which was a really interesting argument. For example, we recommended people wear headphones, which means they are temporarily unavailable to the conversation and collaboration the open-office environment is supposed to stimulate. That’s a fair observation, but I’d argue wearing headphones is a concentration tactic that people in cubicles and even closed offices employ; thus not relegated only to open offices.

Another interesting point brought up was that while many businesses use an open-office design for the majority of employees, executives do not participate and instead receive closed-office privileges. That certainly could be true, but it could also be an issue of privacy at those businesses where executives are regularly conducting confidential calls or in-person client meetings. Nonetheless, I’m proud that this is not the case at LinkUp. My work space is in the open office along with the majority of our executives, and I personally really enjoy it!

Seeing how passionate readers are about this topic, we decided to poll LinkUp employees to see how they really feel about working in an open office. Was all the positivity simply for show? Do they all secretly despise it? We conducted a brief anonymous survey to uncover the truth, and the results are fascinating:

1. The majority of people do enjoy the open-office setting: Only 17 percent of employees at LinkUp dislike our open office, 22 percent are indifferent and 61 percent stated they like or love it.

2. Our office is split between introverts and extroverts: 33 percent of employees consider themselves introverts, 39 percent label themselves extraverts and 28 percent say it depends on the day.

3. What people like best is the buzz and energy, ease of collaboration and the sense of community.

4. Our employees’ biggest challenges are distractions and issues concentrating. Lack of privacy is also a concern.

5. Tips from our employees for people in open offices include: invest in nice headphones, be respectful to those around you with your conversations and noise, and have reasonable expectations (you will be interrupted, people will see your screen, etc.).

Whether a company should employ an open-office design will depend on a number of variables. Some businesses are more fitting than others just by the nature of the work conducted. For example, when client privacy is required or confidential meetings are frequent, an open office may not be the best choice. Culture and personality are big considerations as well, as some people are more or less likely to be successful in an open-office environment. Before implementation, leaders must consider if their employees would be able to operate and meet expectations in that type of setting.