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February 9, 2016 / Molly Moseley

Quicken can save the economy? Super Bowl ad fuels debate

Now that it’s been a few days since Sunday night’s big game, the dust has settled and there’s some time to reflect. No, I’m not talking about playbook analysis; rather, it’s the commercials that everyone is buzzing about. When a 30-second spot costs upwards of $5 million, we expect to see the best of the best.

While some ads were clever and entertaining (Hello, wiener dog stampede!), others seemed to fall flat. Some even sparked outrage. The most controversial ad on social media was the Quicken Loans commercial. Folks are up in arms saying the commercial encourages lavish commercialism and promotes the type of mortgage lending that led to the last big recession.

The ad starts: “Here’s what we were thinking: What if we did for mortgages what the internet did for buying music, and plane tickets and shoes?” The spot goes on to address the ease of getting a mortgage completely online — on your phone in fact. People, of course, would be buying homes left and right. Then they would inevitably fill those home with things, thus necessitating higher levels of employment because more jobs would be needed to create those things.

Basically, the snowball effect would cause a “tidal wave of ownership which floods the country with new owners who now must own other things.” Click here to view it in its entirety.

As a job search engine, everyone at LinkUp is in total support of creating jobs, so this one definitely caught our interest. Although it paints a pretty picture, not all jobs are created equal, some are more sustainable than others. Some argue that spending at the commercial’s proposed level is very excessive, and potentially problematic.

And what about the people who are just now finally recovering from the many hardships of the recession? This commercial could be an unpleasant reminder for those who were perhaps laid off, just had a baby and then faced a home foreclosure in 2008.

Viewers who caught the ad immediately took to Twitter to voice their concern about how it could encourage the type of haphazard lending that should be avoided. Even the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau tweeted, “When it comes to #mortgages, take your time, ask questions and #knowbeforeyouowe.”

So, what was Quicken’s response? “We just saw that the current mortgage process was slow and confusing. So we fixed it.” Totally valid point. Anyone who’s applied for a mortgage in the last few years can tell you it’s a lengthy process, full of red tape and paperwork. Quicken further clarified by tweeting, “RocketMortgage is here to help individuals w/ the right qualifications get in on current low rates.”

I would argue they have done an excellent job of responding to the criticism. They have addressed it head on and embraced the conversation.

Ultimately, the commercial got people talking. If you agree with 19th-century public relations guru Phineas T. Barnum, there’s no such thing as bad publicity, and Quicken is surely on the tip of everyone’s tongue.

I’m left wondering, was Quicken’s main message lost in a storyline that seemed too focused on indulgent consumer spending? A scenario to which some who fared poorly in the last great recession are still sensitive? Or is this idea the answer to the mortgage woes of so many people looking for a solution?

What do you think? Tell me in the comments!

February 4, 2016 / Stephanie Anderson

Should you mention unemployment in your LinkedIn tagline?

shutterstock_365042171When you’re unemployed, the desire for a great new job grows with each passing day. And because you want everyone to know you’re available immediately, you update your LinkedIn profile to reflect your unemployed status. But does doing this give you a competitive advantage, or is it counterproductive?

A LinkedIn tagline is the 120-space spot immediately below your name. When recruiters search the LinkedIn database, this is the only part of your profile they see on the results page — making it extremely important. If your tagline simply says “unemployed” or “laid off,” a recruiter may not take the time to look any further, or arguably worse, question why in the world you’re out of a job.

Phrases and terms like these carry a negative connotation, and that’s the last thing you want to convey when you’re trying to make a good first impression. Furthermore, recruiters are not using these phrases when searching for candidates on LinkedIn. The search algorithms, too, take into account the copy in your tagline, so you’re far better off filling this space with positive, impactful keywords that properly capture your expertise.

Feeling stuck? Start by thinking of the words and phrases that best describe your skills, industry and goals for the future. State what you are, what you can do and your goals. If you don’t know which phrases are currently trending, try LinkedIn’s built-in search function to see what other professionals like you are listing. Once you select an industry, you simply go to the edit option by the headline and click “See what other users in your industry are using.”

Once you’ve nailed down some great descriptive keywords, it’s time to decide whether you want your tagline to say that you’re seeking employment. You can find a way to include this information, of course, but you must do so in a way that conveys a positive message.

If you decide to state that you are seeking employment, you can try a few strategies to maximize your message’s potential. For example, start with your keyword phrase and then add that you’re seeking new opportunities and where you’d like to find them. You could also include that you’re looking to gain knowledge in a particular industry. Here are a few examples:

Screen-Shot-2016-02-04-at-11.26

If these examples don’t fit with what you want to accomplish, there’s no need at all to mention you’re unemployed in the headline — or anywhere in your profile for that matter. After all, if you’ve entered an end date at your last employer, recruiters who take the time to look at your profile closely will understand what your employments status is.

Finally, if you want to note you’re open to employment but you don’t want to add it in the tagline, stating your employment status and future goals further down in your profile is a good alternative. The summary field, for example, is a great place to add a sentence about being open and ready for new opportunities.

Recruiters and hiring managers: How do you feel when candidates use “unemployed” in LinkedIn taglines? Do you agree with these suggestions, or do you have your own to offer?

 

February 2, 2016 / Toby Dayton

January Job Gains Will Be YUGE! They’ll Be Bigger and Better Than Most Loser Economists Predict!

Assuming that there are, in fact, such people, regular readers of my non-farm payroll (NFP) forecast blogs are undoubtedly well familiar with my dependence on politics as a reservoir from which to draw on for multiple purposes in these posts. Not only do politics and general affairs in Washington have a direct and meaningful impact on the economy, Wall Street, and the labor market, they also deliver a perpetual, inexhaustible stream of raw material that can be tapped into for analogies, opinions, connections, and commentary. And last night’s Iowa Caucuses certainly didn’t disappoint. The admittedly tenuous connection I’ll attempt to make between last night’s Iowa Caucus and our non-farm payroll forecast for January is that things just might be starting to return to normal.

For months, the 2016 Presidential had been causing fits for pundits and prognosticators as candidates, campaign strategists, and voters repeatedly defied expectations, failed to adhere to historical precedent, and refused to follow any discernible norms or patterns. But last night’s Caucuses in Iowa just might have snapped things back into some form of normalcy.

As in the past two elections, the winner of last night’s Republican Caucus in Iowa has absolutely zero chance of winning the Republican nomination, let alone the general election. Let’s hope that the loathsome Ted Cruz quickly becomes just as irrelevant, forgotten, and pathetic as Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum.

And on the Democratic side, Hillary was once again surprised by an up-start candidate successfully tapping the passions of younger voters, largely new to politics, looking for a more aggressive catalyst for change. We’ll see what happens next week in New Hampshire, but by all measures, Iowa could not have followed its traditional playbook any more closely.

Similarly, both the economy and the labor market over the past few months have been characterized by mixed signals, conflicting information, and contradictory story lines, all of which have caused enormous uncertainty for economists, the Fed, and anyone attempting to predict non-farm payrolls. While we’ve managed to muddle our way through a challenging period with passing grades that included 3 A’s in 5 months (it always helps when you get to grade yourself), the period has been marked by an unsettling amount of fear, doubt, and trepidation.

 

Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 8.53.48 PM

 

But with our January data, things have hopefully returned to normal. With full knowledge that we very well could be suffering from precisely the same delusion that drives one to remain absolutely confident in the belief that neither Donald Trump nor Ted Cruz could possibly win the Republican nomination, our data appears to point rather conclusively to solid jobs numbers in January and sustained job growth through at least the end of Q1.

In January, new and total job openings by state in the LinkUp job search engine (which includes 3 million jobs indexed from 50,000 company websites) rose by 7% and 3% respectively.

 

Jobs By State Jan 2016

 

Jobs by category rose similarly, with new and total jobs by category rising 6% and 2% respectively.

 

Jobs By Category Jan 2016

 

Unfortunately, the increase in new and total job openings was counter-balanced by a slowdown in the velocity of hiring. Each month, we determine Job Duration by calculating the average number of days that a job opening in our search engine takes to get filled by a new hire. And that number rose sharply in January, jumping from 48 days in December to 54 days in January, continuing a trend since last August when Job Duration was 42 days.

 

Job Duration Prior 2 years

 

What we specifically look at to calculate Job Duration is all the jobs that have rolled off of our site in the prior 6 months. We then average the number days that all of those jobs had been in our search engine before being removed from the employer’s company website (and therefore LinkUp as well), presumably because they were filled by a new hire. The underlying data that drove up the job duration is the steady decline over the past 6 months in the number of jobs that have been filled in less than 30 days, as evidenced by the downward sloping blue arrows in the chart below.

 

Prior 6 month filled chart

 

With the clear evidence that hiring velocity has slowed generally since August and sharply in January, it has become clear that we are now in a period where the lag time between a job being posted (LinkUp data) and that job opening translating into a new job in the U.S. economy (Bureau of labor Statistics’ non-farm payroll data) is 60 days. As a result, we need to look at LinkUp’s November data to forecast how many jobs were added to the U.S. economy in January. And because we saw a slight dip of -0.3% in the blended average of new and total job openings on LinkUp in November, we are forecasting net job growth of 250,000 jobs in January, slightly below the 292,000 jobs gained in December (a number that will likely be revised in Friday’s jobs report).

 

LinkUp Jan 2016 NFP Forecast

 

While a net gain of 250,000 jobs represents a slight decline from December, it’s quite a bit stronger than consensus estimates and well above the average monthly job gains of 221,000 seen in 2015. And based on the strong gains we saw in new and total job openings on LinkUp in both December and January, our preliminary forecast for job growth in the rest of Q1 is quite bullish.

So for all kinds of reasons, let’s hope things have, in fact, returned to normal and that the confidence in our Q1 forecast proves on Friday to have been well-founded. Because if it’s not, I might start to get just a little nervous about the unthinkable possibility of Ted Cruz or Donald Trump actually winning the Republican nomination.

Now that would truly be something to be afraid of.

 

 

 

January 27, 2016 / Molly Moseley

How Uber’s labor model is changing talent-acquisition

 

Uber reports it provides 1 million rides a day, so it’s likely you or someone you know has used the service to zip around town. Over the past few years, Uber has changed the way we travel, but it has also influenced the structure of business and challenged the idea of traditional employment as we know it.

Uber functions using an on-demand business model in which contracted drivers work independently and on their own schedule. This system has been so successful that other businesses have followed suit. Think about it — what can’t you get through an on-demand service? There’s DoorDash (food delivery), Luxe (parking and valet services), instacart (groceries), Drizly (liquor delivery) and so much more.

For recruiters, the trend of businesses offering on-demand service means tackling unique hurdles. Often the core skills of employees are easily transferable from one company to the next, so it’s important to attract the right talent before the competition can swoop in. Workers often jump around between Uber and Lyft or even work for both. It’s essential for recruiters to be heard by the right audiences and to keep them happy enough to stay working long-term.

If you’re a hiring manager at one of these companies, give yourself a recruiting edge by thinking strategically. To start, don’t put all your eggs in one basket when advertising job openings. Use multiple recruitment solutions to reach untapped talent pools and attract new people in different demographics. You must always be willing to try new sources to stay ahead of the competition.

Next, determine the various audiences you want to reach. Identify your target candidates and start marketing directly to those people. For example, I recently saw an Uber commercial marketing to the stay-at-home parent. It was all about working “after hours” or when your kids’ schedule permits. Bingo! This perfectly targets a specific audience and speaks directly to them while giving them key motivating points for applying.

How can you make jobs irresistible to new talent? Some good old-fashioned extras like sign-on and referral bonuses are highly effective. Additionally, don’t forget the application process itself. The majority of job seekers are using mobile devices, so consider offering a short-form application that is quick and easy to complete from a smartphone or tablet. You can always gather the remainder of the information needed if you’re interested in a candidate.

Of course, one of the biggest challenges is retention. With all of the competition you must face, you need to find a way to set yourself apart. Consider extras like benefits that are not typically offered by on-demand service companies. The more perks you can provide, the more loyalty you’ll earn from staff. (Bonus, they’ll become great brand ambassadors and will be more likely to recruit their friends to work as well.)

Over the next decade, it will be interesting to observe the evolution of on-demand service businesses. With new offerings emerging regularly, the challenges of attracting and retaining good employees will be top of mind for recruiters. To stand out, they absolutely must lead the pack with target marketing and unique benefits.

What other ways do you think these types of companies can attract and retain talent?

January 20, 2016 / Stephanie Anderson

Snapchat: Is there value in it for the job seeker?

shutterstock_188728949The buzz about Snapchat right now is electric. According to Wired.com, Snapchat is having its “mom moment.” That means it’s no longer a niche app for younger demos. It’s now mainstream, and soon (if she hasn’t already) your mother or grandmother will be using it.

In recent years, the way people think about Snapchat has evolved from simply being a way for teens to keep in touch with friends. Now fashion bloggers, celebrities and brands are popular follows with more people joining every day for business or promotional reasons. In fact, reports note Snapchat has more than 100 million users and is growing rapidly.

For the career-minded individual, Snapchat offers value in a way that is just beginning to be tapped. Confused? Don’t be. There are numerous creative ways to use Snapchat to inspire and give yourself the edge you need to influence your future.

1. Get job search advice
Want free career guidance? J.T. O’Donnell, CEO of Careerealism and CareerHMO, is pioneering Snapchat use for career and job search. Her article says she’s using the platform to provide free job search coaching. I’m positive that other career coaches and experts will follow suit.

2. Stay current on news
When job searching, it’s important to stay up to date on current events and industry trends. Snapchat makes it easy to follow news outlets like CNN, gma_abc, nprnews, meetthepress and nowthisnews. If you’re applying at a company that actively uses Snapchat, be sure to follow them.

3. Stand out with a Snapchat resume
There will always be a place for a traditional resume, but if you want to set yourself apart, a Snapchat resume may be just the ticket. This comical Snapchat resume is a bit too literal, but it still serves as an example to inspire you.

4. Find inspiration
Job searching is hard and sometimes you just need a little encouragement. Follow Snapchatters who inspire you to keep your energy and enthusiasm pumping. The hands-down favorite in the LinkUp office is DJ Khaled (djkhaled305) because of his motivational messages and humorous, over-the-top outlook on life.

5. Learn about opportunities
More companies are realizing the value of Snapchat and using the platform to recruit. Taco Bell (tacobell) is a great example of a company using Snapchat to advertise job and internship opportunities. Look for more companies to be doing this in the future.

6. Get a dose of comic relief
Speaking of humor, use Snapchat to take a break and get some much needed comic relief from your job search or hectic work day. These funny snaps will give you the smile you need to keep on truckin’.

7. Show you’re tech-savvy
Companies increasingly want hires with proficiency in popular technologies, and what better way to show you’re on the cutting edge than by adding your Snapchat name to your resume, portfolio and social media profiles?

8. Become Snapchat employed
Looking for a job using Snapchat? Why not find a job at Snapchat? Yep, this business is only predicted to grow, so it might be the perfect spot for you to find new employment. They are hiring now!

Convinced Snapchat has value for the job seeker? Good. Now check out snapcodes to explore more folks to follow. Visit www.snapchat.codes and let us know who you’re following for job search advice and inspiration!

January 13, 2016 / Molly Moseley

Anatomy of the perfect employment application

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How do you design the perfect employment application? An application that collects all of the information you need about an applicant, without asking superfluous questions that frustrate and turn off quality candidates. We asked HR Expert Liz D’Aloia, CEO of HR Virtuoso, in the second of our two-part Q&A with her on employment applications.

Liz got tactical to share the optimal length of an application, which questions you should, and maybe more importantly, should not ask, and explored whether or not you should feature multiple versions of your application for different roles or different devices. Her suggestions just might surprise you! Also, be sure to checkout part one of our Q&A on application mistakes that turn off candidates.

Q: What is the optimal number of questions to have on a job application?

A: We typically recommend 5 – 10 screening questions on a job application that are directly related to the role(s) applied for. It’s all about your candidate abandonment rate. On a typical Applicant Tracking System (ATS), even the “mobile” enabled, the abandonment rate is 60 – 75%. We’ve found that by keeping the application time to five minutes or less on a mobile device, we can deliver up to a 78% application completion rate. People simply don’t have patience for long, cumbersome processes, so shorter is definitely better.

Q: What important questions do employers neglect to include on their applications?

A: They neglect to include screening questions that are specific to the job opening. For example, it makes sense to ask truck driver candidates about their driver license number, expiration date, and driving history. But it doesn’t make sense to ask these same questions of someone who isn’t in a safety sensitive or driving role.

Employers also often neglect to state that their application is only good for a set period of time (usually 60 to 90 days).

Finally, employers can make it easier for people to apply by offering to infer data onto applications from Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media. Just don’t mandate it, though, since many job applicants are hyper aware of security and don’t want their social media accounts to be associated with an employment application. Also, we’ve found that requiring a login (user ID and password) is one more arduous step for a mobile user, and will lead to higher application abandonment rates.

Q: What questions should employers avoid on job applications?

A: Don’t ask for sensitive personal information (social security number, DOB) on a job application. Most of us guard our social security numbers carefully. Personally I don’t even give it to my doctors, so why would I give it to an employer that I probably will never hear from again (and who might get hacked)?

Employers should also be very careful about asking about criminal convictions. Over 100 cities and counties, and 19 states, have “ban the box” regulations that require employers to consider a candidate’s qualifications first, without the stigma of a conviction record. Remember, criminal convictions should only be considered if they are job related.

Again, try to give candidates options — and control — over how they fill out the application. Don’t require data to be inferred, but offer to do so if they log in with a social media account. Remember, millennials especially like a personalized experience, and the application process speaks volumes about your company’s brand and culture.

Q: Should employers have multiple versions of a job application for various positions and/or devices being used (mobile app vs desktop app)?

A: We’re great believers in having multiple versions of a job application for various positions. This really helps keep the application process short for candidates, and helps employers hone in on qualified candidates.

We also believe that it’s extremely important to offer job applications in multiple languages, especially for entry-level hourly roles. This helps increase your candidate pool by making it easier for people to apply who don’t read or write English fluently. It also helps with a company’s affirmative action outreach efforts and supports diversity programs.

We don’t think that it’s necessary to have two types of applications for mobile use versus desktop use. If it’s configured correctly, it should be just as easy to apply on a mobile device as a desktop. The only challenge that comes into play is with resume uploads. Savvy mobile users will upload a resume from their cloud storage system. We’ve solved this problem by simply adding a field for candidates to link to their LinkedIn profile.

Again, the platform really comes down to the type of candidate you need to attract. For example, most exempt employees tend to be more highly educated and enjoy a greater income than hourly employees. They also have more access to computers. According to Pew, people of color and lower income workers rely more heavily on their mobile devices to access the internet. These folks bypassed computers and went straight to smartphones for access. So, stop making them visit your location’s kiosk or a public library to fill out an application. You’ll generate a lot more candidate flow by making it easier for them to apply on their phone.

Liz D’Aloia is the founder and CEO of HR Virtuoso, a mobile recruiting company based in Dallas, TX. She is an HR professional, employment attorney, speaker, and blogger. Prior to launching HR Virtuoso Liz worked at national transportation companies and at a global retailer. Connect with Liz on LinkedIn and follower her @hrvirtuoso

January 12, 2016 / Molly Moseley

Taking a play from Blair Walsh, overcoming failure in the workplace

Image: Jim Mone/Associated Press

Image: Jim Mone/Associated Press

Think your week had a rough start? Just imagine how Vikings kicker Blair Walsh feels. With 26 seconds left in Sunday’s game, all he needed was to make one field goal from the 27-yard line. It felt like a sure thing, allowing the Vikes — the perpetual underdog — to advance in the playoffs.

Snap, kick and … wide left. Walsh had been 33-for-34 on field goal attempts from inside 30 yards in his career, according to ESPN stats. In fact, he led the NFL with 34 field goal attempts in the regular season. He should have been able to make that goal blindfolded.

The anticipated glory was snuffed out in an instant and the hearts of Vikings’ fans everywhere were crushed. (Seriously, people were upset. Check out videos of Vikes fans watching that kick. It’s so funny yet so sad.)

LinkUp is headquartered in Minneapolis, so of course Monday any mention of this notorious kick was met with despair. This got me thinking about the big picture. How do people, not just professional sports players, come back from a major career failure?

Fortunately, many failures the average worker experiences are much more private than Walsh’s, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are any less devastating. Failure is a fact of life, and it can define you in a good way or in a bad way.

When faced with career failure, the first step is to not let it become your identity. It’s true that most of us are our worst critic. It can be difficult to focus on anything else besides the negative, especially right when it happens. But failure is not who you really are, unless you let it be. Resist making it personal and try to focus instead on times of success.

“I’ll take the blame, because I deserve every second of it,” Walsh said of his botched kick. He took responsibility for the loss despite being the only team member that put points on the board that game. Without him, it would have been a 10-0 blowout. (And let’s not forget that terrible Adrian Peterson fumble, among other team blunders.)

What Walsh needs to do is take a break. And that is the second piece of advice I offer professionals trying to overcome a failure. Fresh off career embarrassment, it’s impossible to be objective. A few days to a few weeks can be rejuvenating and allow you to revisit the failure with a fresh perspective.

Finally, it’s time to learn from your mistakes. Put aside any feelings of anger, take stock and persevere. How can you ensure this mistake doesn’t happen again? How can you make a positive change in the future? There’s something to learn from every failure, and oftentimes a failure can be inspirational, if you allow it to be.

Football is notoriously cutthroat both on and off the field. It was particularly refreshing to read responses from Vikings team members who spoke out in support of Walsh after the dreadful playoff mistake. Support can be key to overcoming the suffocating weight of the negative.

“He’s stepped up big for us and won games for us in the past,” said safety Harrison Smith. “Not going to abandon him now.”

Wide receiver Nate Burleson tweeted, “I know today seems like a dark day in your athletic career but you will bounce back better & stronger from this brotha. You have kicked game winners before and will make game winners in the future. And not to mention you were a huge part of why the Vikes were in the game with 3 field goals so hold your head high.”

January 7, 2016 / Stephanie Anderson

Commit to your health with smart fitness ideas for the office

shutterstock_290091509Millions of people vow to start the new year with increased resolve to improve their health. Unfortunately, losing weight and getting fit is one of the resolutions most often broken, according to Time.com. For those of us who work in an office, this isn’t surprising. When you sit in one place for the majority of the day, physical fitness is bound to suffer.

I’ve been thinking about this sedentary office lifestyle and how it affects my friends and family, so I reached out to fitness expert Andrea Jones for some easy tips. She is the co-founder and chief marketing officer of Alchemy, a hot new group fitness concept in Minneapolis and she knows her stuff!

Her very first suggestion: seek accountability.

“Whether it’s a workout buddy or a clean-eating friend, your healthy habits are more likely to stick if you share your commitment to being healthy with a colleague,” says Jones.

You can even take this idea one step further and work with HR to create some optional office-wide challenges. For example, start a walking club or challenge coworkers to bring healthy brown-bag lunches for an entire month. Last year we hosted the “LinkUp Fitbit Challenge,” which was a great way to get motivated and have fun doing it!

On the subject of eating, do you ever feel like the overflowing availability of treats in the breakroom is constantly tempting you? It’s time to kill the donut and bagel frenzy with a little smart planning.

“You don’t have to be a buzzkill walking into an office party or breakfast meeting, counting your almonds and apple slices, but you can be the change,” Jones says. “Bring fresh or dried fruit and nuts, hard-boiled eggs, or sliced turkey and cucumber roll-ups for a refreshing, delicious and healthy alternative.”

Snacking healthy and surrounding yourself with positive influences are great first steps for people who work in an office environment. Next, it’s time to get out of the comforts of the adjustable chair and get moving.

“Carve out time on your calendar for a workout,” suggests Jones. “Wake up an hour before work, make it a lunch date, or swap happy-hour drinks for a group fitness class. It’s trendy, it’s healthy, and it will make you fitter than the cocktail and cheese curds route.”

In addition to physical health, mental health is equally important to your overall well-being. Jones recommends a smart exercise to shift your outlook and improve your attitude.

“Take a page from the 5 Minute Journal and spend a few minutes when you wake up to write down what you are grateful for and what would make today great,” she says. “As you wrap up your day, jot down at least one thing that made today amazing and ask yourself, ‘What would have made today better?’ Try this exercise for a week and you’re bound to be a better version of yourself by week’s end!”

Finally, Jones suggests simply letting go. “The excuses, promises of commitment and guilt are weighing you down. If you are singing the same sad tune from last year, let it go,” she says. “Today is the day to make a change. Want to drink more water? Do it. Need some motivation? Join us at Alchemy for the 365 Challenge. It starts Monday.”

Andrea Jones is co-founder, owner, and chief marketing officer at Alchemy, and is vice president of the Union Fitness CrossFit studios in Minneapolis, St. Louis Park, and St. Paul. You can follow her on Twitter, connect with her on LinkedIn.

January 6, 2016 / Toby Dayton

LinkUp’s December Jobs Forecast – Que Sera, Sera

Rarely, if ever, am I at a complete loss when trying to generate some commentary around our labor market forecast. I’m not sure if the problem is being too distracted by the start of a new year, too busy with our core business, too pessimistic about the increasingly worrisome state of the economy, or too horrified by the current state of the world, but it’s been a struggle this week to muster the time or energy to publish our forecast.

My current media consumption, ranging from dark and moody (The Affair, season 2) and stressful and chaotic (Homeland, season 5) to terrifying (True Detective, season 1) and gut-wrenching (Between The World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates) hasn’t helped my malaise.

 

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Nor has the absolute absurdity that is the field of Republican presidential candidates, the NRA, militia in Oregon, flooding in Illinois, global warming everywhere, or just about anything else going on in the news these days.

Jason Hirschhorn, the brilliant, mastermind curator behind REDEF, said it perfectly in this morning’s rantnrave:// – “It’s the new year and it looks like the world is falling apart again. Is it me? SAUDI ARABIA and IRAN. NORTH KOREA. SYRIA. ISIS. Terrorist attacks. Militias. Gun debates. The most important Presidential election in my lifetime and a cast of clowns. What does armageddon look like?”

Thank God for SNL.

 

1

 

It’s also very possible that my paralysis is the direct result of recently seeing The Big Short and having to stare into the abyss once again and face the terror, dread, nausea, abhorrence, and revulsion of all that was The Great Recession.

Or perhaps my lack of enthusiasm for our non-farm payroll is simply the result of the fact that we are predicting a rather uneventful, ho-hum jobs number of just 205,000 for December.

And in one of those great moments of serendipity (a very good movie, by the way), as I stare at a blank WordPress screen, my Tycho station on Pandora plays this song:

 

Que Sera

 

And what better theme could there be for December’s jobs forecast? Que sera, sera. Whatever will be, will be. (Most assuredly not the strongest theme I’ve ever woven into a jobs forecast, but it’s the best I’ve got this week).

So here’s our forecast:

 

NFP Forecast Dec 2015

 

Based on flat numbers in November, we are forecasting a net gain of just 205,000 jobs in December, essentially the same as last month.

In December, however, job openings in our search engine rose again rather sharply, so perhaps we’ll start 2016 off with a huge month of job growth in January.

 

Jobs By State Dec 2015

 

Jobs by category showed similar gains.

 

Jobs by Category Dec 2015

 

So on Friday, que sera sera.

And by the way, see and/or read The Big Short. Seriously.

 

The Big Short Images

 

 

 

January 6, 2016 / Molly Moseley

Application mistakes that turn away your candidates

shutterstock_264940502We think this year should be all about improving the candidate experience, in fact, it’s our biggest recruiting resolution of 2016. Of course, the most logical place to begin is where a job seeker does, the employment application. It’s simple, if a job seeker is turned off by the length of your application or an arduous process they are going to bail and you are not even going to have any candidates to consider.

We reached out to Liz D’Aloia, CEO of HR Virtuoso, a mobile recruiting company based in Dallas, TX, for her expertise on the subject. In this post we go back to the basics asking her thoughts on the purpose, common mistakes and what makes a perfect application. Next week we’ll get more tactical with Liz’s perspective on which questions to include and avoid, as well as how to reduce application abandonment.

Q: What is the overarching purpose or goal of a employment application?

A: It’s twofold. From the candidate’s perspective, it’s an expression of interest and qualifications for a job. From the employer’s perspective, it’s the first step in the screening process and it acts as a source of candidate contact information.

Q: What are the most important components of a employment application?

A: An employer needs to gather contact information, understand the candidate’s qualifications, ask some basic screening questions, and convey legal statements.

Q: Job application vs Resume? What are the main differences from the employer and candidate perspectives?

A: Savvy employers are beginning to realize that they need two different application processes: one for exempt, and one for non-exempt candidates. For exempts, it’s not unusual to get sourced on LinkedIn, submit a resume, and fill out an application later in the process. The resume is more important than the job application since it details experience, accomplishments, etc. in a way that it’s hard to convey on an application.

Non-exempt candidates are in an entirely different arena. Many don’t have resumes. And even if they do, those resumes often reflect the entry-level nature of their jobs. They don’t offer much value to employers, and candidates struggle to write them. So why ask for them when you can get the information you need through a short, mobile-enabled application and some screening questions that are very job specific?

Q: What is the biggest mistake employers make on job applications?

A: Employers make 4 major mistakes on their job applications.

1. Failure to provide a truly mobile experience. Pew published a research paper in November 2015 that highlighted the challenges that candidates — and employees face with job applications. From a practical standpoint, the first mistake employers make is assuming that their online application (usually through an ATS) will translate into a mobile experience. This is the number one complaint we hear from our clients who are using a “mobile” enabled ATS. Consider the data from Pew:

- 28% of Americans — including 53% of 18-to-29-year olds — have used a smartphone in one way or another as part of a job search

- 50% smartphone job seekers (representing 14% of all adults) have used their smartphone to fill out an online job application

 We’re at full employment in the US, and any recruiter will tell you how hard it is to find talent. Companies can increase their candidate pool by making it easier for people to apply online and on their smartphones. Consider:

Nearly half of smartphone job seekers have had problems accessing job related content because it wasn’t displaying properly on their phone or had difficulty reading the text in a job posting because it wasn’t designed for a mobile device.

 More than one in three job seekers had trouble entering a large amount of text needed for a job application or had difficulty submitting the files or other supporting documents needed to apply for a job.

2. Lengthy applications with questions that don’t relate to the job applied for. This is a very easy fix if you use the right software. Don’t forget that candidates will abandon a lengthy online process. According to the CEO of Snagajob, a whopping 97% of applications are abandoned when companies only offer a lengthy online process that candidates try to complete on their phone.

3. Asking for sensitive, personal information (social security number, DOB) on the employment application. Many candidates will abandon an application process that requires this information

4. Requiring a resume to apply. First, most ATSs don’t parse resumes well. Also, according to Pew, 17% of Americans indicate that it would not be easy to create a professional resume if they needed to do so. But here’s where employers really find themselves in a bind, they have one process for all candidates from senior executives to entry-level hourly roles. Consider:

- 6% of college grads report that they would have trouble creating a professional resume
- 30% of those with a high school diploma or less would have trouble creating a professional resume
So, when you demand a resume upload as part of your application process, you’re driving away a significant part of your candidate pool.

Q: What makes the perfect job application?

A: The “perfection” of a job application can really only be measured by its completion rate. Most companies either don’t measure this, or are struggling to increase it. This is a tough fix for companies since many have spent millions of dollars on complex ATS systems that aren’t mobile friendly. We’re starting to see a shift away from the “old school” ATS platforms that are bundled with other talent management and HRIS modules. The customers and HR pros I regularly speak with understand that it’s really hard for technology companies to do a lot of things well, and they’re starting to separate their ATS, HRIS, on-boarding, and talent management systems.

One thing I kept in mind while building the HR Virtuoso System is that companies usually have a lot of time, effort, and expense associated with their current systems. It’s a big leap for them to change their application process, but the job market has changed quickly, and they have to evolve in order to remain competitive. So, the perfect job application is short, mobile-friendly, and will integrate with whatever system the employer chooses.

Stay tuned next week for more insights from Liz on constructing the perfect employment application!

Liz D’Aloia is the founder and CEO of HR Virtuoso, a mobile recruiting company based in Dallas, TX. She is an HR professional, employment attorney, speaker, and blogger. Prior to launching HR Virtuoso Liz worked at national transportation companies and at a global retailer. Connect with Liz on LinkedIn and follower her @hrvirtuoso.