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April 16, 2014 / Molly Moseley

Top 5 recruiting trends in financial services

If you are a recruiter looking to fill jobs in the financial services industry, you have your work cut out for you. It’s becoming more complex than ever to fill jobs in this evolving sector. In fact, according to a recent PWC survey, a quarter of CEOs said they had to cancel or delay a key strategic initiative within the previous 12 months because the right people weren’t available to execute it.

Finding the right talent in a highly competitive landscape can be difficult, but knowing the top trends in the financial services sector can help you uncover the best employees while ensuring the organization thrives.

IT and finance go hand in hand
People are demanding new ways to interact with their banks and financial institutions beyond face-to-face meetings. They want to interact with their financial service providers digitally, to use video meetings, to make payments with a mobile wallet and utilize other progressive interactive online tools. The financial services industry is evolving to meet these demands, and therefore savvy recruiters know that talent must be well-versed in both finance and technology.

Millennials and the employee landscape
Millennials are changing what is typically considered a strict, conservative sector of business. These young professionals want more flexibility and casual dress codes, much like what is demanded in other industries. Many are using the financial services industry as a stepping stone for their career and do not plan to stay long term. Some are avoiding the sector altogether due to its negative reputation in the wake of the financial collapse. Recruiters, along the industry as a whole, need to adapt in order to attract top talent to be future leaders; otherwise these key individuals will go elsewhere.

Diversity becomes a priority
America is a melting pot with a diverse network of citizens. But not all industries are equal when it comes to a diverse workplace, and finance has fallen behind. For example, InvestmentNews notes that although African-Americans make up almost 14 percent of the population, they hold less than three percent of senior positions in the financial services industry. The bottom line: the financial sector must make investments in diversity, and this initiative can start through recruitment efforts.

Freelancing grows immensely
An estimated one-third of America’s workforce is made up of freelancers, consultants or contractors. As the financial services industry strives to save money, the trend of hiring freelancers is growing in this sector. This is oftentimes a win-win for contractors and businesses – financial organizations get to hire specialized experts without having to pay benefits, while those being hired retain control of their schedule and can prioritize flexibility as necessary.

Privacy and security
First it was the Target data breach, now it’s the Heartbleed bug – IT threats are top of mind for many consumers, especially when it comes to their financial well-being. Worldwide mobile payment transactions surpassed $235.4 billion in 2013, according to Gartner, which means virtual banking is growing. IT advancements like these have revolutionized the financial industry, but it creates risk that must be well managed. Skilled IT professionals are required to not only protect a particular financial institution, but the entire industry as a whole.

April 11, 2014 / Toby Dayton

Great Feedback From A Happy LinkUp User

This comment was left on our job search engine earlier today, and I thought it was worth posting. It perfectly recognizes the success we’ve been able to achieve in the relentless pursuit of our singular mission to build the best job site on the web.

Thank you to whoever posted it – your kind words are greatly appreciated.

LinkUp Jobseeker Testimonial April 2014

April 10, 2014 / Brad Squibb

The pros and cons of conducting interviews online

As technology continues to expand at an increasingly fast rate, it will come as no surprise that the often tedious process of interviewing candidates is changing dramatically as well. What used to require a long series of in-person interviews is now being replaced by online meetings instead.

Since 2011, the use of video interviews has risen 49 percent, according to theundercoverrecruiter.com. Today, six out of ten HR managers use video in some capacity to interview candidates – an option that is both flexible and economical. There’s no doubt that online interviewing is convenient for both the hiring manager and the interviewee, but is something getting lost in translation?

Some argue there’s no difference between interviewing a person face-to-face or online. Both allow you to observe a candidate’s body language along with his or her answers, after all. Others insist online interviewing doesn’t allow the deep insights that speaking to someone in person can provide – an argument founded in the belief that if you want to see how someone will work with others in person, you must first conduct an interview in person.

Some of the major pros of online interviewing include:

  1. Saves time – No commuting for the candidate, no conference room reservations required for the hiring manager.
  2. Convenient – Everyone has a computer these days and it is easy for both parties to hop online to conduct an interview.
  3. Tests technical know-how – Using video demonstrates a candidate’s ability to utilize technology to make human connections, a skill that can be in high demand.

Some of the major drawbacks of online interviewing include:

  1. Connectivity issues – Technology doesn’t always work at 100 percent, and a poor Internet connection or unexpected lag times can diminish the value of an online interview fast.
  2. Limited body language – Body language plays a major factor in a hiring decision, and when video focuses mostly on the face, a hiring manager doesn’t get to observe the whole picture (such as a candidate who was fidgeting under the desk out of view).
  3. Visual limitations – From bad lighting to poor camera technology, how a person looks on video is not always representative of what he or she would look like in person.

While some hiring managers choose to fully go one way or the other, they often choose a mix of both online and in-person interviewing. Many start with online interviews until they narrow down candidates and identify the top talent, only then scheduling in-person meetings for those people.

The most important thing to keep in mind is to do what is right for your business. An e-commerce company with a sales force that functions virtually might appreciate observing a candidate’s mannerisms online. A charter school looking to hire a principal who will work closely with teachers and students may feel more comfortable meeting candidates face to face. As long as the best candidate is found and hired in the end, the ultimate goal will have been achieved.

April 3, 2014 / Molly Moseley

More companies hiring interns in 2014: Are you ready?

College students hear the message time and time again: internships are critical for getting real-world experience. That hands-on training, when paired with a degree, can make a resume stand out from the thousands of other graduates who may be vying for a particular job.

It appears the message is being heard because a whopping 67 percent of students who graduated from college in 2013 completed at least one internship, according to a recent Internships.com survey. Furthermore, demand for interns is up, with 56 percent of companies planning to hire more interns in 2014 compared to last year.

College graduates might find an internship is the quickest way to a full-time, permanent position. The survey revealed that 73 percent of large companies of 100 employees or more hired interns in order to find new full-time employees. Smaller companies (50 or fewer employees) mainly hired interns to get part-time help with projects.

Eager college students are wise to seek out internship opportunities now, particularly if they are hoping to secure some of the more highly sought-after internships only available during the summer months. Consider these tips for scoring a great internship:

  1. Update your resume and cover letter. Highlight other jobs, volunteer positions and internships, if applicable. While it shouldn’t be the bulk of your resume, it is ok to mention major class projects that might be relevant to a particular position.
  2. Use a job search engine to locate internships of interest. Did you know you can search internships on LinkUp as well as job postings?
  3. Network! Use your personal and professional network to learn about internship opportunities. You might be surprised what is available if you just ask around.
  4. Utilize your college career center. In addition to helping you find an internship, there are often opportunities for help with resume writing as well as mock interviews.
  5. Be ready for the interview. Interview performance was ranked number one in what employers value most when hiring an intern, according to the survey, so be prepared to kill it come interview time.
  6. Apply to multiple internship opportunities. Even though more employers are offering internships, competition to get one can still be fierce. Plan on applying to several for the best chances of getting hired.

Of course, if you’re in the Twin Cities area and want to help LinkUp become the best job search engine on the Internet, consider applying for an internship with us! We love our hardworking interns and are on the lookout for talented, energetic college students ready to help us with our mission.

April 2, 2014 / Toby Dayton

You’re Not A BlockHead Charlie Brown; Strong March Jobs Numbers Will Cap Off Solid Q1

Charlie Brown 1a

Feeling a bit like Charlie Brown as we await Friday’s jobs report, we are forecasting very strong job gains in March, capping a solid quarter overall for the nation’s labor market. But if this feels like deja vu all over again, it’s because we’ve been here before. In fact, over the past 3 years, the economy began each year with strong job gains only to see the labor market weaken over the subsequent 3 quarters of the year. In only 1 of the 9 quarters following the 1st (Q4 ’11) did job gains exceed the high-water market set in that year’s 1st quarter.

Job Gains by Qtr 2011-2013

And so here we are again. Based on our data from February in which new and total job openings in LinkUp’s job search engine (which indexes 2 million jobs from 50,000 corporate websites) rose 5.5% and 5.7% respectively, we are forecasting that a net gain of 275,000 jobs were added to the U.S. economy in March. Not accounting for any potential BLS revisions, that would result in Q1 job gains of 579,000 – not quite as solid as 2012 or 2013, but substantially better than 2011.

Unfortunately, in each of the 3 years between 2011 and 2013, the labor market slowed markedly in the 2nd quarter, with job growth declining an average of 40% from the 1st quarter. In 2012 the drop was particularly horrific, with job gains dropping from 677,000 in Q1 to a miserable 200,000 in Q2.

But just like good Ol’ Charlie Brown, we remain hopeful that this time maybe, just maybe, things will be different. Maybe this time, Lucy won’t pull the ball away from us at the last minute. Maybe this year is truly the ‘gear year’ as Jim Paulsen calls it. If our data from March is any indication, at least April should kick off Q2 with very strong job gains.

In March, new job listings on company websites rose by 18%, while total job listings rose by 8%. Even more encouraging, new and total job listings rose in all 50 states.

Job Growth by State March 2014

Similar growth was seen in new and total job openings by category, with new listings rising 20% from February and total listings climbing 8% from the prior month. Increases occurred in 30 of 31 job categories tracked by LinkUp with new openings in Oil, Gas, & Utilities as the only decline.

Job Growth By Category March 2014

With the blended average gain of 5.6% in new and total job listings seen in February and the 4.3% seen in March (which is different than the data tables for March shown above due to our paired-month methodology), we are forecasting net job gains of 275,000 for March and our preliminary forecast for April is a net gain of 325,000 jobs.

March 2014 Forecast

Let’s hope we’re not being a blockhead about the outlook.

Charlie Brown 2a

March 31, 2014 / Toby Dayton

LinkUp Forecasting Model Scores A 58% In 2013 (That’s A Solid A+ In Prognostication 101)

With the release of the February jobs report, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has issued its final, 60-day revision for its December jobs number, putting to bed all 12 months of 2013. As such, I thought it would make sense to look back and assess the effectiveness of our model last year in forecasting job growth in the U.S. By no means scientific, I looked first at our forecast each month in relation to the initial BLS release as well as subsequent BLS revisions. In addition, I looked at our forecast in relation to the consensus forecast and whether or not we were directionally accurate in forecasting job growth that was better or worse than the consensus estimates. I also looked at the longer-term, multi-period trend in our data as compared to the BLS data. And finally, I looked back at the commentary each month to assess how insightful our analysis was (or wasn’t) in relation to how the labor market shaped up during the course of the year.

For each of the 12 periods, I assigned a pass/fail grade based on the overall mix of criteria outlined above (with full recognition, again, that this grade is both unscientific and self-awarded). The results are detailed in the table below, including 7 months with a ‘Pass’ grade and 5 months with a ‘Fail’ grade. That turns into a 58% score for the year, which I’d argue is pretty solid given the daunting challenge of trying to predict the future in a difficult environment where anything consistently better than a coin flip has to be regarded as remarkable.

2013 Forecast Grades

In going through the analysis for the year, there are definitely a few things worth pointing out, as a well as a few items worth highlighting. In general, I would give our model very high marks for the general downward trend we began identifying in Q1 and consistently articulated as the year progressed. Beginning in February, the blended average of new and total job openings in LinkUp’s job search engine declined month-over-month in almost every month during the year, presenting a pretty startling view of the weakening jobs market across the country.

2013 Monthly LinkUp Jobs Data

As the graph below indicates, the BLS data, when shown by quarter, confirms that same deterioration in the labor market in Q2 and Q3, and I’d argue in Q4 as well if one more accurately accounts for seasonal hiring.

2013 BLS data by Qtr

Even ignoring seasonal factors and accepting the BLS data as is, I’d make the case that the horrible number for December, which surprised everyone in the markets except us, was enough in and of itself to stand as a more telling proxy for the alarming weakness of the labor market in Q4. That’s also why I gave us a ‘Pass’ grade for November despite the fact that we were a bit premature in calling the horrific number that came out a month later.

A couple of other highlights for the year are worth noting. In June, we got the June BLS number of a net gain of 195,000 jobs exactly right:

June 2013 LinkUp Forecast on Bloomberg

And in December, as we wrote above, the jaw-dropping jobs number released by the BLS was a shock to almost everyone except us, as indicated by the Bloomberg screenshot below showing that LinkUp contributed the lowest forecast to Bloomberg’s consensus forecast.

December 2013 Jobs Call

In terms of a highlight centered around our commentary, I’d point to our prediction in early August that the Fed would not begin tapering in September. At the time, virtually everyone in and around the markets was wildly secure in their belief that the Fed would unquestionably begin curtailing its Quantitative Easing regimen in September, leaving the size of monthly reduction as the only item open for discussion. Needless to say, we were quite alone with our contrarian call.

And lastly, because I am a huge fan of analogies, I’d nominate as my two favorites for the year the October post comparing Ted Cruz to Walter White (aka, Heinsenberg)…

Lego Meth Lab #1

and the December post that compared me to William Shatner in his infamous Twilight Zone episode…(the monster was on the wing, by the way)

DragThingScreenSnapz004

It was a great year for our model and we look forward to similar results in 2014.

 

March 26, 2014 / Stephanie Anderson

ID thieves’ new favorite target: Job seekers

Are you putting your personal information at risk during your job search? 

It’s no secret that identity theft is highly prevalent. In fact, the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network received more than 2 million complaints (excluding do-not-call) during 2013, with identity theft being the No. 1 complaint category. Criminals seem to get smarter every day and are finding new ways to steal people’s private information.

Of course the identity-theft story that recently made huge headlines was the Target security breach. In many ways, the breach served as a wake-up call for consumers who are often very liberal when sharing their personal information with their favorite retailers. Some shoppers remain skittish about shopping at their favorite stores.

But credit cards and financial accounts are not the only ways thieves are accessing critical personal data. Oftentimes job seekers put an incredible amount of personal information on the Internet in order to lure future employers. The problem is that all of that info is also available to savvy criminals.

Job scams are designed to take advantage of people looking for employment, and many times criminals go to extreme lengths to make sure the job appears legitimate. Approximately 2.5 million Americans are victims of job scams each year, including many highly educated people.

From phishing scams that steal your personal information to complex pyramid schemes or work-from-home scams that require a deposit for start-up costs, too often people fall victim to dishonest criminals – especially those who are unemployed and desperate for work.

What are the best ways to keep your personal information safe while searching for a new job? Here are five tips that can help:

1. Designate accounts solely for your job search
It’s wise to create email accounts that are only used for the purpose of your job search. Never use your personal or current work email. Not only will this help you keep your job search organized, it will help keep information unrelated to your job search safe from hackers.

2. Provide minimal personal information
Minimize personal information on cover letters and resumes, as this information could be sold to third parties or used for identity theft purposes. Do not include information such as your birth date, Social Security number, driver’s license number, bank accounts, credit card info or your mother’s maiden name.

3. Research before applying
Before submitting a resume, research the company’s website and make sure the job you’re applying for is listed on the site. Keep in mind, if an offer sounds too good to be true, it likely is. Try searching for the company’s name along with the word “scam” and see what results show up.

4. Protect your passwords
It goes without saying that you should never share your passwords for personal accounts, but to keep your information safe, you should take a few more proactive measures. Always keep track of all the places where you post your resume, and do not use the same user name and password on those sites as you do for your personal email.

5. Don’t overlook the details
Small details can provide clues as to whether a job posting is the real deal. Do the email address and website domain align? Does the information include a physical street address and phone number? If the email looks like a personal address with no additional location info, request more information before applying. Lastly, use LinkUp to search for jobs, as we only index real jobs directly from real company websites.

Want to know more about how to identify job scams? Check out our blog post for important red flags and other expert insight.

March 19, 2014 / Brad Squibb

March Madness: How to boost morale without losing productivity

With the annual NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Tournament quickly approaching, talk around the water cooler is likely hotter than ever. March Madness is one of the nation’s most popular sporting tournaments, with an estimated 50-million Americans participating in March Madness office pools.

This begs the question: Does the NCAA tournament cause productivity levels to take a hit?

The answer is yes, to the tune of 1.2-billion dollars in lost productivity, according to estimations from the outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. What’s more shocking about this number is that it is based on workers dedicating as little as one working hour to the tournament – filling out a bracket, one could assume. The calculation does not account for the workers who watch games or participate in other March Madness-related activities at work.

No one wants to be the manager who bans all the tournament fun from their workplace – after all, it boosts morale and brings together teams that otherwise may not have interacted. To keep productivity high while the games heat up, consider these three ideas:

1. Sponsor a company-wide pool
Rather than having different pools scattered across different department, why not sponsor a companywide pool and encourage all employees to enter? Free or low-cost pools can keep workers focused while boosting camaraderie and morale immensely. Make sure employees know they don’t have to be a college basketball enthusiast to participate.

2. Beware bandwidth issues
As more employees stream games online, a company’s bandwidth can quickly suffer. Slow Internet and tech systems mean lower productivity. It’s wise to remind employees of your company’s policy about live-streaming video. Consider setting up a viewing room, or place live-stream video in the break room so employees can catch a bit of game during their break times.

3. Circumvent unwanted absences
Rather than losing employees to long lunches or sick days that fall on important game days, give them the option to use PTO or make up time so they can catch the game and still get important work done. Another idea is to offer a long-lunch reward for employees who make a particular job-related goal. On big game days, you might even opt to cater lunch and set up a viewing room for employees – morale will soar and you’ll be keeping workers in-house so they can continue working when their break is complete.

Let the Madness begin!

March 13, 2014 / Molly Moseley

Industry insight: 2014 trends in retail

The retail industry is positioned to be one of the strongest economic areas for hiring in 2014. LinkUp’s database indicates retail has the highest number of new and total job openings thus far. With the economy turning around and various trends boosting the bottom line, retail continues to evolve in numerous ways.

Here are some of the top trends for retail in 2014:

1. Mobile shopping apps
Smartphone technology continues to engage consumers and drive sales. Think about smartphone apps like Target’s Cartwheel or Shopkick. Mobile payment options are growing as well, like Google Wallet and Dwolla. The key to ensuring technology enhances the consumer experience is an adequately trained staff who understands how shoppers are using the technology and can keep the sales process moving forward.

2. Big data analytics
There are more ways than ever before for retailers to learn about consumer spending patterns and shopping habits. Oftentimes that data is pulled from the very technology consumers use during the shopping experience. Retailers can gain deep insights about consumer behaviors, an opportunity that should not be ignored. It’s important to invest in the right people and technology to pull and analyze important data in order to provide a better customer experience and turn higher profits.

3. Showrooming
One of the downfalls of consumers using technology in retail environments is show-rooming – the act of shopping at a brick-and-mortar store and then ordering the item online at a lower price. Smart retailers will be proactive about implementing strategies to limit lost sales through show-rooming. What’s a good way to keep sales in-house? Focus on the value-add of the physical store environment. For example, offer a superior customer service experience, tout loyalty programs and advertise in-store only sales.

4. Data protection
In many ways, the Target data breach opened the eyes of retailers to the very present risks of data theft. People know that more information is being collected about them than ever before (see point 2), and many are leery about how well retailers are protecting this valuable data. IT security is a must to protect retail customers’ information and your store’s reputation. It’s also a smart idea to have a solid crisis plan in place should a breach ever occur.

5. Omni-Channel
Long gone are the days that consumers simply waited for the Sunday ads and then headed to their favorite stores. Today, omni-channel retailing is the norm – meaning consumers are receiving messaging through a multitude of forms including email, online ads, TV, radio, catalogues, etc. Marketing and messaging should align throughout all channels. Employees across these channels must be trained well to work together and integrate efforts. This helps ensure successful internal processes, as well as a seamless customer experience.

How is your retail company addressing these trends so you can stay top of mind with consumers and keep in the black?

March 9, 2014 / Toby Dayton

A Fun Afternoon At Bloomberg..

A few photos from a really fun afternoon yesterday at Bloomberg talking with Pimm Fox about the February jobs report

Bloomberg (6)