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June 21, 2017 / Molly Moseley

Requiring a college degree is BS

CC Image by COD Newsroom, Flickr

Is a college degree the new high school diploma? As most hiring managers can attest, the answer is yes.

Many entry-level jobs require a college education just to be considered as a candidate. Need an Associate of Science degree for data entry? Yep. A Bachelor of Arts degree for basic child care? Sure. A Bachelor of Science degree to be a file clerk? Yes — and that’s a lot of B.S.

Company leaders across the United States are hollering that it’s tough to find qualified workers to fill jobs, but perhaps those qualified workers are already there; they just don’t happen to measure up to the lofty degree requirements on the job post. It’s time to consider a shift in perspective.

President Trump’s workforce initiative that launched last week brings this topic center stage. Essentially it encourages apprenticeships, technical training and on-the-job training in lieu of companies defaulting to requiring college degrees. Ivanka Trump, who will lead the initiative, said, “There is a viable path other than a four-year college experience.”

Not all work requires a college degree, so why do so many companies require them? It wasn’t always this way. Bloomberg Businessweek explains, “When the job market was flooded with desperate applicants, many employers required college degrees for entry-level jobs. There was a certain cruel logic to it: Hey, might as well get the best.”

However, those standards didn’t fall when job markets tightened. Once HR up-credentials a position, requirements rarely get relaxed. “That could explain why 43 percent [of employers] say finding enough candidates is a top challenge in filling entry-level jobs,” the article notes.

Equally concerning is the $1.3 trillion in student loans in the U.S. The average class of 2016 graduate has $37,172 in student loan debt. That graduate must now vie for an entry-level job with a minimal salary or stay unemployed. They might not even work in the field of their degree! In fact, only 27 percent of college grads have a job related to their major.

I believe we are at the tipping point and soon will experience a renaissance in higher education. People are sick of being stuck with loads of debt for degrees they don’t use and therefore are seeking alternatives. This goes beyond job training and technical schools. People are using MOOCs (massive open online courses) providers like edX or Coursera. They are signing up for certification through trade organizations like the American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute. They are considering corporate training through companies like IBM.

Educational organizations are starting to break the traditional college mold, too. MissionU is one such example. Launched in March, this 12-month college alternative offers a major in Data Analytics + Business Intelligence. The goal is to get people trained so they have the in-demand skills to get into the job market quickly. What makes it even more unique is there’s no tuition. Graduates pay 15 percent of their income for three years once they hit a salary of $50,000.

For employers and HR professionals, these trends are certainly something to note. It’s important to start looking beyond colleges and explore alternative training programs and vocational education in order to find quality candidates. If your applicant tracking system is eliminating candidates just because they don’t have a token 4-year degree, change it and see what happens. Most important, consider skill, experience and potential, not just the degree and name of their alma mater.

 

June 13, 2017 / Stephanie Anderson

The pain of changing your name in the workplace

shutterstock_384188605First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a long line at the Social Security office in order to change your name … if you choose to do so.

New York Times’ data blog, The Upshot, reports women are keeping their maiden names more often than they used to. While adopting a spouse’s name was more common in the 1980s and 1990s, recent years show roughly 20 percent of married women are keeping their last names.

What’s more, there seems to be a rising trend of men taking their female partner’s name. The Huffington Post article “I Got Married And Took My Wife’s Last Name. Here’s Why” lends some insight into why a man would consider this nontraditional move.

Feminism? Yes, part of it was to support equality between him and his wife, but that wasn’t the only reason. The change was also in line with his desire to have one singular family name (The Brobergs), plus he liked that it sounded more Jewish, which is his heritage.

After reading the article, I started to think more about the implications of a name change. Changing your name is a nightmare, especially at work. You’ll visit HR to fill out necessary paperwork. You need to update your email, voicemail, business cards, etc. You’ll have to introduce yourself to clients and contacts again, explaining your new name. It’s all time-consuming and often frustrating.

Of course, a name change is more than just logistics. If you’re already established in your career, your reputation is closely connected to your name. Changing it can really challenge your reputation management. Your name is your own personal brand, and just like you’d never see Coke considering a name change, it’s not something many professionals are willing to do, either.

This ties closely to the trend that Americans are staying single longer. The average age for Americans getting married is estimated at 27 for women and 29 for men. That is plenty of time to attend college, get a job and start making a name for yourself. When it’s time to get married, a traditional name change may not make sense.

Ultimately, the choice of whether to change your name is between two partners and there are countless ways to approach the decision. Some couples both keep their names, others hyphen or blend their two names together into a totally new surname. Some keep separate names for their personal and professional lives, and still others come up with new options, much like my husband and I did.

When I got married, my husband took my maiden name as his middle name. It was completely his idea. However, he quickly learned the pain of a name change and actually faced additional challenges that can come from bucking tradition.

When I updated my name, I only needed our marriage certificate. For him to update his name, he was told he needed a court order. Apparently that DMV worker had never had a man change his name in marriage before! After a few phone calls to a judge and lawyers with the state of Virginia, he was finally able to make the change. Today I love both our names and the path we chose.

Did you change your name when you got married? How did it affect different aspects of your life and career?

June 1, 2017 / Toby Dayton

LinkUp’s May Jobs Data Points To Slowing Job Market

For the 2nd month in a row, new job openings on LinkUp declined from the previous month and total jobs were essentially flat, pointing to a job market that might be starting to slow down to some degree. Based on April’s jobs data from LinkUp, we are forecasting a net gain of just 160,000 jobs for tomorrow’s non-farm payroll (NFP) report from the Department of Labor’s Bureau of labor Statistics.

 

Screen Shot 2017-06-01 at 4.12.04 PM

 

And based on LinkUp’s May data, our preliminary forecast for June’s NFP report is a net gain of just 110,000. We will revise that forecast after the BLS releases its jobs report for May tomorrow morning, but whatever May’s number turns out to be, we are projecting that June’s non-farm payroll number will be lower by roughly 50,000 jobs.

 

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Additionally, LinkUp’s Job Duration report indicates that employers are facing continued difficulty in filling jobs quickly in today’s full-employment environment where applicants are hard to come by. Although May’s Job Duration dropped slightly from last month, it is still taking employers an average of 53 days to fill open positions.

 

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So based on the past few months of LinkUp data, combined with what the current administration did even just today with the Paris climate agreement (not to mention what he has done virtually every day since he took office) to absolutely destroy job growth in the future, it’s pretty safe to say that the best days of the post-Great Recession recovery will soon be viewed in the rearview mirror.

May 30, 2017 / Toby Dayton

LinkUp Forecasting NFP of 160,000 Jobs For May

With the 1st of the month falling on the Thursday before ‘Jobs Friday,’ we will be posting our non-farm payroll (NFP) forecast and jobs report for May in two parts this week. This shortened first post will include just the NFP forecast for May because we only use job openings data from the previous month to forecast job growth the following month (given the fact that job openings in a given month are highly correlated to job gains in the following month when employers, for the most part, fill those positions with new hires).

As we reported last month, new job openings on LinkUp in April declined 5% and total job openings were flat for the month.

 

Jobs By State April 2017

 

With a 50/50 blended decline of 2.4% in April, we are forecasting net gains of just 160,000 jobs in May.

 

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When we get our data for the full month of May on Thursday, June 1st, we will publish May’s job openings data (which also allows us to make a preliminary forecast for June NFP) as well as our job duration report for May.

 

May 23, 2017 / Molly Moseley

F*&k meetings

shutterstock_485162803You wake up well rested and ready to tackle your day. You open up your work calendar to see what’s on your plate and you see back-to-back meetings the entire day. Will you have time to eat? Screw that, will you even have time to pee? One thing’s for sure: You certainly won’t have time to get any actual work done!

Workplace meetings have gotten out of control. Much like how your adorable kid transformed into a hormone-fueled monster once the teen years hit, meetings have changed from pleasant and productive to downright excruciating. Of course, some gatherings are essential, but American white collar culture has somehow taken the innocent meeting and turned it into a time-inflated money-suck that provides little overall value on the individual or company level.

The statistics are no laughing matter:

  • There are 25 million meetings per day in the United States
  • More than $37 billion per year is spent on unproductive meetings
  • $338 is the average salary cost per meeting (this skyrockets when high-paid business leaders attend)
  • Approximately 50 percent of meeting time is wasted

Meetings have become so prevalent yet redundant that people no longer take them seriously. Over 70 percent of people bring other work to meetings and 39 percent admit to dozing off. Apparently when you’re at a meeting you are either doing other work or taking a snooze. What you aren’t doing is having a productive meeting.

What can we do to reclaim meetings and make them what they should be? Here are five easy ideas for productive meetings. Really ask yourself if you’re doing these, and if not, try a fresh approach next time.

Consider not having a meeting: That’s right! The first step of productive meetings is to decide if one is really necessary. First define the goal. If a meeting isn’t necessary to achieve that goal, then no need to send out an invite.

Invite only those necessary: Meetings are wasted time when too many or too few people attend. If you need to make a decision, but the manager necessary to give sign-off isn’t there, the meeting is a failure. Likewise, a decision that only requires insight from three people should be attended by three people, not the entire department of 20.

Set an agenda: Create an agenda before the meeting starts. What’s more, email it to attendees or print it out to share at the meeting. That way everyone can stick to the plan and stay on topic.

Table off-topics: Some off-topic discussions are valuable, but just need to be shelved for a different time. If someone gets off topic, consider respectfully turning the conversation back to the agenda and goal at hand, and writing down the ideas to address at a later time.

Follow up the right way: A meeting isn’t over when the time is up. Often there are numerous to-do’s that emerge. You may want to send out a recap and list who’s responsible for next steps. Otherwise you might end up in a follow-up meeting discussing the exact same thing as last time.

Do you have any thoughts on the modern meeting? Please vent your hatred and share your tips for streamlining the meeting mess.

May 17, 2017 / Molly Moseley

Fear: A warning of failure or a sign of approaching success?

Image credit: Jerritt Clark | Getty Images

Image credit: Jerritt Clark | Getty Images

Your palms are sweaty. Your stomach has that light, unsettled feeling. Your mind races eagerly from thought to thought.

Fear is an innate part of the human experience and has been essential to our survival as a species for thousands of years. While fear keeps us from danger, it also can keep us from many other amazing experiences.

Recently I was asked to speak at a community networking event. I was honored to be asked and excited about the opportunity, but fear reared its ugly head. Like it is for many others, public speaking is outside my comfort zone. The thought of addressing a crowd full of people was overwhelming. Would I speak well? Would they learn from me? Could I inspire them?

Doubt sunk in. A flurry of negative thoughts raged through my mind, from stumbling over my words to physically stumbling over the podium. I had a choice: Give into fear and maintain the status quo, or challenge myself and give it my best.

I accepted the offer and decided not to let fear get in my way. To do the best job possible, I knew extensive preparation was essential. I took plenty of time to prepare my points, hone my message and practice out loud. I was nervous, but ready.

Ultimately the presentation went well and I got tons of great feedback. I’m glad I accepted the offer and tried something new. Like many people faced with a career challenge, it’s easy to take the comfortable path. However, when you do this — whether for public speaking, a big promotion or a move across the country — you’ll always wonder about the road less traveled.

The next time fear creeps up, rather than considering it a warning of impending failure, view it as a sign you’re on the right path. Some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs and inventors attest fear isn’t always a warning of the negative; it’s often a signal that you’re on your way to success.

When facing doubt, it’s important to realize fear is not unique to you. Everyone experiences fear, even those you might feel are immune to it. Will Ferrell’s recent commencement speech for the University of Southern California made this point perfectly:

“You’re never not afraid. I’m still afraid. I was afraid to write this speech. And now, I’m just realizing how many people are watching me right now, and it’s scary. Can you please look away while I deliver the rest of the speech?” said Ferrell. “But my fear of failure never approached in magnitude my fear of what if. What if I never tried at all?”

For the graduates about to embark on a brand-new adventure he offers some advice that I think is fitting for just about anyone:

  1. Enjoy the process of your search without succumbing to the pressure of the result.
  2. Trust your gut.
  3. Keep throwing darts at the dartboard.
  4. Don’t listen to the critics and you will figure it out.

So next time you feel fear holding you back from trying something new — whether in your personal or professional life — I encourage you to push those feelings down and stomp them with your foot. Then be bold and see what happens. Chances are, you’ll succeed, and at the very least, you’ll be glad you tried.

May 4, 2017 / Toby Dayton

LinkUp April NFP Forecast of 248,000 Is Well Above Consensus Estimate In Bloomberg Survey

But we weren’t the highest outlier…

NFP_2017.05.04

 

May 4, 2017 / Toby Dayton

Orange County insight: Will cool job numbers heat up in time for summer?

The temperatures are rising as spring heats up, but the job market in Orange County, California, is cool as a cucumber.

Job openings in the 3rd most populous county in sunny California (behind Los Angeles and San Diego) hit a 3-year low in January 2017, with 18,200 open jobs listed in the LinkUp Index. After 3 years of fairly stable labor demand, this has many of the county’s 3 million-plus residents scratching their heads.

LinkUpLaborDemandReportOrangeCountyOpeningsLast3Years1000pxwide

We dug into our most recent numbers to see what trends were emerging in hopes of garnering some insight. Because LinkUp only indexes jobs directly from employer websites — with daily updates of more than 3.5 million from over 30,000 employers — we know our numbers are accurate because they don’t include data pollution such as expired jobs, duplicate listings, and job scams.

We discovered the top industries for current job openings are retail, health care and accommodation/food service. Not surprisingly, the largest concentrations of job openings are in the larger cities in Orange County such as Irvine, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Orange and Costa Mesa.

LinkUpLaborDemandReportOrangeCountyOpeningsByZipCode

Health care job openings: 16% of the jobs open in Orange County are in the health care industry. St. Joseph Health currently has the highest number of job openings in the county.

Retail job openings: 21% of the jobs open in Orange County are in the retail industry. PetSmart, for example, is 2nd behind St. Joseph Health in overall job openings in the county.

Accommodation and food service job openings: 13% of the jobs open in Orange County are in the accommodation and food service industries. Pizza Hut is currently ranked No. 5 for top job openings in the county.

These numbers closely reflect what’s happening in the state of California, but when you look at the big picture, there’s clearly a slowing trend. Government indexes show that starting late last year, Southern California’s metropolitan areas grew at their slowest pace since 2010, according to the The Orange County Register.

One reason is large employers are shifting strategies. In late 2014 there was a spike in Orange County job openings thanks to Boeing’s need to staff a new Engineering Design Center in the Long Beach area. Recent reports say change is on the horizon, with more than 2,400 jobs expected to be moved out of Boeing’s Huntington Beach facility over the next 4 years. This announcement essentially cuts the number of workers on that campus in half.

Beyond big business, there are other factors to consider as well. After a wet winter finally ended a 5-year drought, some people are blaming the rain for the sluggish job market, especially in industries like construction, retail and hospitality that are significantly impacted by weather.

“The last time growth was this slow was 5 years ago as the recovery from the recession was just beginning,” reports Jonathan Lansner of The Orange County Register.

Will this trend continue? We’ll have to see if the hot summer days warm the job market or if Orange County is in for a long-term job market cool-down.

May 3, 2017 / Toby Dayton

LinkUp Forecasting April NFP of 248,000, Well-Above Consensus Estimates

It’s been on my ‘to-do’ list for a few NFP forecast blog posts, and for better or worse, I am going to highlight here a change to our NFP forecasting methodology. Not only is it a bit overdue, but it also conveniently gives me an excuse to punt on the blog post I should be writing on the current administration’s likely medium and long-term impact on the labor market which would require more hours than I currently have. So with the abbreviated pre-amble, I’ll jump into the minutiae of our NFP forecasting model and then touch on our NFP forecasts for both April and May.

We developed our initial model about 8 years ago when we started issuing non-farm payroll forecasts using job listings indexed exclusively from corporate career portals on company websites. At the time, we were indexing approximately 1 million jobs from about 10,000 company websites (we are currently indexing 3.5 million jobs from 30,000 companies). And because we were (and still very much are) continuously adding new companies and job openings, our forecasting methodology had to account for the upward bias inherent in a perpetually expanding dataset. To accomplish this, we used (and still use) a ‘paired-month’ methodology that compares new and total job growth from one month to the next using only those companies that are common between the two months being compared.

So using 2017 data for illustrative purposes, each month will end up having 2 data points each for both new and total jobs – the first time (t1) when we compare the current month to the prior month, and a second time (t2) a month later when the next month is compared to its prior month. So focusing on March in the table below, we get March (t1) new and total jobs on April 1st when we compare March to February, and we get March (t2) new and total jobs on May 1st when we compare March to April.

 

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But the 2nd aspect of our methodology that we developed 8 years ago was to create an average of t1 and t2 for both new and total jobs for a given month. We used the average of t1 and t2 for a month for the sole purpose of smoothing out data anomalies that resulted from ‘scrapes’ that broke during the process of indexing jobs from applicant tracking systems used by companies to publish their jobs on their company websites. At the time, our scraping and indexing technology was far less sophisticated than it is today, and broken scrapes were frequent enough that they had a sufficiently material impact on the data. We were also a smaller company back in 2009 and had fewer resources dedicated to adding new companies so the pace of growth in the dataset was less than it is today and the ‘washing-out’ impact on the paired-month methodology by averaging t1 and t2 wasn’t that significant.

Over the subsequent 8 years, however, our company has grown considerably and we have made significant investments in the technology, people, tools, and systems around our jobs platform. While broken scrapes will always be an inherent aspect of our job market data, the frequency of breaks has diminished and we have added resources such that we can identify and repair broken scrapes much faster than in the past.

Even more importantly, the significant investments we’ve made in our platform has allowed us to increase the pace of adding new companies and job listings to the dataset, and that rate of growth itself is accelerating. As a result, the use of the average of t1 and t2 for new and total jobs has not only become less necessary, it has actually detracted from the model’s effectiveness in forecasting net job gains in the monthly non-farm payroll reports. Hence its elimination.

To be clear, we are still using a paired month methodology where we normalize or constrain the dataset to only include or count new and total job gains for a set of companies that were common between the two months being compared. So using the table below, we calculated new and total job gains in March on April 1st using a set of companies that were in the dataset in both February and March, and compared March relative to February. As highlighted in red below, new job gains in March rose by 121,79 or 15%. Total job gains rose by 159,572 or 7%.

 

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The last step of our methodology averages the new and total job gains or losses in percentage terms which we then translate to net increase or decrease in job gains relative to the prior month’s net job gains. With approximately a 30-day lag between the time a company publishes a job opening on its company career portal and when that position is filled with a new hire, we use the February (t2) and March (t1) data to forecast net job gains in April. So for April’s forecast, the 11% average in new and total job gains in March (relative to February) equate to a forecasted NFP for April of 248,000.

 

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The other benefit of eliminating the use of the average between t1 and t2 for a given month means that we don’t have to wait 30 days to get the 2nd data points (new and total jobs t2) for each month. As a result, we can now issue a preliminary ’60-day’ NFP forecast each month.

In the case of our data for April, as detailed in the table above, new jobs decreased by 5.2% from March, while total jobs rose by 0.4%. The average percentage change of -2.4% translates to a preliminary forecast for net job gains in May of 198,000 which the Bureau of Labor Statistics won’t announce until June 2nd (so it’s not technically a ’60-day’ forecast but rather a preliminary forecast for the current month).

The key thing to remember, however, is that our forecast for May (in this example a decrease of 50,000 from whatever NFP for April actually turns out to be), is based on the job gains relative to our forecast for April. Actual NFP for April won’t be released until BLS issues April’s Employment Situation Report on Friday (which they then revise on June 2nd and again on July 7th). In the case of our preliminary forecast for May, you can also wait until BLS issues its data for April and then subtract 50,000 to get our updated forecast for May.

So regardless of whether or not the explanation around how, why, or when we can now issues our preliminary forecast for May’s NFP, the data clearly shows that labor demand slowed to some extent in April – new job listings decreased 5% with decreases in 36 states, while total job gains stayed flat relative to March. Although 29 states showed gains in total jobs, total job gains for the country as a whole were up only 0.4%.

 

Jobs By State April 2017

 

So putting it all together, we are forecasting job gains of 248,000 in April, a forecast well above consensus estimates. And for May, we are forecasting slightly less robust job gains of 198,000 – still a solid month of job gains but slightly lower than April. Broadly speaking, we see continued strength in the labor market through Q2 which should result in increased labor force participation rates and further gains in wages across the U.S. economy.

 

April 27, 2017 / Stephanie Anderson

Easing back into work after parental leave is anything but easy

That sweet baby breath. The adorable little coos. The endless snuggles in your warm embrace. While being on parental leave is a lot of work, it’s these types of experiences that make it so incredibly special.

As the end of your leave nears and you prepare to head back to work, sadness and panic can set in. How are you supposed to leave this perfect little person to go back to the office?

I just returned to LinkUp after 12 weeks of maternity leave with my own adorable little man, so I know how tough it can be. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to ease the transition and become a rock-star working parent. Here are my top tips.

Return in the middle of the week

Heading back into a full workweek can be overwhelming. Consider starting in the middle of the week instead. Starting on a Wednesday, for example, means you have a few days to get back in the swing of things before taking on new projects the following week. Plus, you only have three work days until the weekend.

Identify and communicate your needs prior to returning

To ensure you have what you need to do your job as a parent and professional well, you must communicate these needs before you return. Do you need a lactation space? Companies are required to provide a private space by law. Do you need a later start time to accommodate day care schedules? Ask about shifting your hours. Most companies are willing to work with you to reasonably accommodate your needs, but you must speak up.

Consider returning part-time initially

If your company is subject to FMLA, both men and women are allowed job protection for 12 weeks after the birth or adoption of a child, but you don’t have to take it all at once. Consider intermittent FMLA to make the transition easier for the whole family. You may want to work four-hour days instead of eight, or, perhaps you and your partner can rotate taking two weeks off until you both have completed your FMLA. Ask your HR department and try to determine a schedule that works for everyone

Get to know your child care provider

If your new bundle of joy is going to a home day care or child care center, it can be scary. Countless parents have cried handing their babies off to “strangers” for the first time as they head back to work. You can cut down on the back-to-work blues by spending some time with your child care provider before your leave ends. Set up a few days to visit, observe and get comfortable with the routine and dynamic. You’ll feel better about drop-off when you know what to expect.

Meet the newest member of the LinkUp family: Griffin! (Image by Laura Ivanova Photography)

Make time to get organized

If you think you have a lot of email after being gone for a week of vacation, just imagine being out for 12 weeks! You’ll likely have loads of email to filter through, among many other things you’ll need to get up to speed on. Make sure you block off enough time to get organized so you can do your job well.

Be kind to yourself

Most importantly, manage your expectations and be kind to yourself. Shifting away from being with your baby 24/7 is hard at first, but it will make coming home at the end of the day more enjoyable than ever! Understand the transition will take time. Before you know it, you’ll be sailing through your days like the super mom or dad you really are.

I’m so thankful LinkUp afforded me the opportunity to enjoy maternity leave with my son Griffin, but I’m excited to be back working for the greatest job site on the web!