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May 25, 2016 / Stephanie Anderson

Keep climbing: What job searchers can learn from Mount Everest mountaineers

Photo by Mark Stone, Eddie Bauer Blog

As fresh blooms and a warming climate sweep across the United States, you’re probably dreaming of relaxed days outdoors. On the other side of the world in Nepal, however, spring inspires dreamers of a different kind. That’s because spring is prime time for ambitious climbers to tackle Mount Everest.

Even if you have no desire to conquer Everest yourself, it’s fascinating to learn about other people’s journey to reach the peak. The skill, preparation and patience required to attempt the climb is astonishing. Climbers risk their lives to tackle this mountain; in fact, four people have already died on Everest this season. I’ve been following two well-known mountaineers on Snapchat (everestnofilter) during their preparations for their summit push without oxygen. One just completed the journey and the other turned back due to the cold. Their perseverance is amazing.

The ups and downs of the climb have many parallels to job hunting. No matter the circumstances that lead you to a job search, when you approach it with perseverance, care and dedication, you are going to have more success — just like the climbers looking to cross Everest off their bucket list.

Train and prepare

To attempt Everest, you need to be well trained. Proper preparation is essential to reach your goals, whether they be reaching a mountain’s peak or landing a new job. While it’s tempting to dive right into a climb or job search, doing so can be a recipe for disaster. For job seekers, it’s important to take the time to update your resume, reflect on what type of job you want, determine your non-negotiables and set up job-alert emails. LinkUp’s 5-step job search is a great guide for getting started.

Beware the weather

The conditions have to be just right in order for climbers to attempt Everest. When job searching, it’s important to assess whether the “weather” is right for pursuing a new job. What are your current life circumstances? Is now a good time to get a new job? Are there advancement opportunities at your current place of employment? Are you seeking new employment for the right reasons or are you just temporarily dissatisfied? Consider the current outlook to ensure sunny skies are in the forecast.

Be patient

Everest climbers will go up and down to various elevations on the mountain multiple times before even attempting the summit. Job searching is a similar roller coaster. Sometimes you’ll apply and not hear back. Other times, you’ll have a great networking conversation but no opportunities will be available. Perhaps you’ll interview but you won’t be the right candidate. Whatever the case, you must be patient and persevere. When it’s the right job for you, you’ll climb through base camp (application), camp one (phone interview), camp two (in-person interview), camp three (reference check), camp four (background check), and then finally the summit (the offer).

Find your Sherpa

No matter how good a climber is, he or she is going to work with a Sherpa to ensure a safe and successful climb. For job seekers, leveraging the right resources is just as important during the search. Call on your network for help and reach out to old colleagues, friends and family. People can be great resources in a job search and most enjoy helping others reach their goals; you simply need to ask.

Celebrate the summit

After what feels like endless planning and a marathon journey, the best mountaineers get to enjoy the breathtaking view at Everest’s summit. When you finally reach the summit of your job search by getting and accepting an offer, take time to celebrate. Enjoy the view and get ready for the next big chapter in your life.

May 18, 2016 / Molly Moseley

Leaning out is as hard as leaning in

Sheryl Sandberg (2016, January 13). [Facebook update]

Professional women across the globe have found inspiration in Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In since its 2013 release. The book, which tackles a multitude of issues that women face as they grow their careers, encourages them to speak up, be confident and take charge. In essence, it proposes that women should lean into their professions as much as possible in order to break stereotypes and glass ceilings (how achievable that is for working moms, we explore here).

Sandberg, however, has recently admitted that parts of her best-selling book are incorrect. In a Mother’s Day Facebook post, she addressed one of the most common criticisms of Lean In — that the concept is extremely difficult for single moms.

After losing her husband tragically and unexpectedly a year ago, Sandberg experienced firsthand the challenges of being a professional and single parent. And she didn’t just lose her spouse and the father of her children, she also lost her core support system. Sandberg realized many other women face this challenge every day — most without her financial security — and she became concerned.

“I did not really get how hard it is to succeed at work when you are overwhelmed at home,” Sandberg wrote.

After being thrust into single motherhood, it became clear it’s impossible to lean in constantly. There are times when you have to lean out for yourself and for your family. When your most precious resource is time, the toughest skill you will ever master is how to properly spend it in order to achieve the things that matter most to you. After all, there are only 24 hours in the day.

Depending on the support and resources you have available, there will be times throughout your career when you’ll be able to lean in more. There is no shame, however, in recognizing that it’s time to lean out. Here are some ideas for navigating your lean so your ship is always sailing smoothly:

1. Engage your family relationships.
Sit down with your kids or significant other, ask them about their day, week or month. What are they excited about and what’s bugging them? Can you help or do they just need someone to talk to?

2. Check your career. 
What have you been enjoying? What is dragging you down? Where do you want to be in six months, a year and 5 years? Think about what you can do to get there.

3. Set a bed time and stick to it.
Quality sleep is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, plus it will help you be a better professional and parent.

4. Don’t bring your phone to bed. 
Gasp! Remember, old-school alarm clocks? You can get one for about $10. Yes, you can keep your phone in the bedroom in case of an emergency, but don’t have it within arm’s reach where it will tempt you to check email and peruse the internet all night long.

5. Learn to say no.
Stop feeling obliged to always say yes. Don’t volunteer for things you’re merely mildly interested in. Forget the PTA. Forgo the fifth kids’ birthday party this month. Inject free time into your schedule.

6. Make time for friends.
Personal relationships require nurturing. Make time to hang out with friends, even if it’s once a month. Your heart will be happy.

7. Ask for help. 
It takes a village. Remember, people love to feel useful and often will happily lend a hand, if you ask.

8. Outsource. 
If you have the means, hire a cleaner or a lawn service to free up your free time for more productive or enjoyable activities. If you don’t, consider ways to open funds, such as cutting cable or brown-bagging lunch.

What other things do you do to navigate your lean? Please share!

May 13, 2016 / Stephanie Anderson

10 red flags for spotting fake LinkedIn profiles

To effectively network on LinkedIn, you need to grow your connections. While the golden rule is to not accept anyone you don’t personally know, the reality is that many people connect with others they haven’t met. After all, business doesn’t happen in a bubble and neither does networking.

Because of this, fraud has grown tremendously on LinkedIn. Criminals make fake profiles in order to contact you for a variety of reasons. It doesn’t benefit your professional reputation to have fraudulent connects, and worse, it might cause big problems.

Most LinkedIn fraud happens via InMail. You connect with a criminal who is posing as a professional and then they send you a spam InMail, such as:

  • Recruiter seeking your personal information for a potential job
  • Romantic inquiries
  • Inheritance schemes
  • Freebies and offer claims

These types of fraudulent emails look legitimate and may contain links that have malware and viruses that can knock your computer out cold. Before you connect with anyone, it’s best to take some precautions. Here are a few red flags to look for any time someone requests to connect.

1. No picture: Most people have a head shot on their profile. If a connection lacks a photo, it’s an immediate red flag.

2. A perfect picture: Does the photo look stock? Does the person look like a model? Yes, there are a lot of attractive professionals out there, but if the picture looks like it’s plucked from the pages of a magazine, be suspect.

3. Few connections: How many connections does the person have? Several hundred or two? If you don’t know the person and they have very few connections, just say no.

4. Limited or generic information: It’s easy to copy job titles from another person or simply use generic ones. Where spammers fail is they often won’t fill in any information beyond titles. Beware the profile that lacks details about experience.

5. Questionable tag line: The tag line is the information that appears immediately after a person’s name. Does this content scream “spam”? If so, don’t connect.

6. Shared contacts: When you look, do you have any shared contacts with this person? Connections often cross over within industries, so a real person may be a second-degree contact with you already.

7. Recommendations: Not everyone activates the recommendation feature on LinkedIn, but it’s still an important feature to look for when spotting a fake profile. Only a real person will have recommendations from their network.

8. URL: Many professionals will customize their URL on LinkedIn. An account that doesn’t have a custom URL, or one that has a number that indicates it’s newer (3 million +), may be fake.

9. Exotic location: Does the location of the person seem suspect? If it feels odd that someone in Ghana would want to connect with you, trust your gut.

10. Keyword stuffing: In an effort to be more searchable, criminals create fake profiles bursting with keywords. If the profile uses too many keywords or keywords that nobody in your industry would use, consider it a warning.

For more LinkedIn networking insights, check out our post Follow, connect or get out of the way? Navigating LinkedIn relationships.

May 3, 2016 / Toby Dayton

We Are Definitely In a Full Employment Environment; April Jobs Report Will Obliterate Any Doubts About Wage Inflation & June Rate Hike

Now that Season 6 of Game of Thrones has started up, I can finally stop relying on politics as a backdrop for our monthly non-farm payroll (NFP) forecasts and labor market commentary. And like the first 2 fantastic episodes of the season, there is certainly no shortage of storylines to draw from. In fact, there are so many chaotic story lines swirling around the U.S. economy at the moment that things more closely resembles Westeros than at any point since the carnage of the Great Recession. While it wouldn’t surprise me if a few dragons appeared in the skies, we do have our own Lucifer in the Flesh, The First of His Name and The Most Miserable Son of a Bitch. And in addition, just like GoT, every time one part of the story seems to get resolved, more questions emerge, uncertainty keeps growing, and fear and trepidation continue to plague the nation.

On top of the standard list of questions these days such as whether or not 2016 will follow the pattern of recent years with weak Q1 GDP growth followed by decent subsequent growth later in the year and how nervous the U.S. should be about persistent global weakness, a list of far more vexing and impactful questions has begun to materialize. A few such questions are…

1) What has happened to U.S. productivity growth?

2) Are we in an environment of Full Employment?

And of course, there’s always the same question that has persisted for years in one form or another….

3) WWJD (What Will Janet Do)

As an amateur economist at best, I’m forced to rely on far more qualified economists to answer the first question, but as to the second, I can state with a high degree of confidence and supporting data, including LinkUp’s proprietary labor market data, that the answer is most definitely yes. And because the answer to #2 is yes, combined with our bullish NFP forecast for April (net gain of 315,000 jobs), the answer to #3 is a quarter-point raise in June. But before jumping into the first question, it’s worth highlighting the current, chaotic state of the U.S. economy.

 

US Macro Slide

 

I won’t even begin to try to speculate on what GDP growth will be for the remainder of the year, what the likelihood of a recession is in the next 12 months, or what further insanity is in store in this preposterous Presidential election cycle and what impact that might have on the economy and the markets, but the question of how it is possible that the U.S. economy and the U.S. labor market continue to chug along, the bright star among global economies, despite exhibiting the lowest productivity gains in any 5-year period since 1978-1982 is a fascinating one that will likely have deeply serious implications for decades.

The first and easiest (and perhaps laziest) answer, and one that undoubtedly has ample merit, is “Measurement Error.” It is hard to argue the absurdly challenging task of accurately measuring productivity in a post-industrial, service/technology/information/knowledge-based economy. And while that challenge has always existed, many economists believe Measurement Error is becoming increasingly problematic in tracking productivity.

The second explanation, also with much merit, posits that productivity is low due to the fact that we are very early in the investment cycle and that productivity growth will accelerate dramatically in the years to come. Proponents of this view point to a similar period of low investment between 1993 and 1998, which was then followed by explosive growth in productivity in the 2000’s. To be sure, corporate earnings in recent years have been extraordinarily elevated and balance sheets have been awash in cash due to low wages and a dearth of investment in plant and equipment. But investments in technology, research & development, and software ticked up in Q1 and perhaps we’re in for another period of soaring productivity in the next decade along the lines of what we saw over a decade ago.

Another explanation might be the severe lack of government investment over the past decade or so, perhaps even longer. On top of anemic private sector investment, public sector investment has been virtually non-existent since the Great Recession when an insanely misguided austerity fever gripped the nation. Cuts in public dollars invested in education, training, research, large scale projects, public-private partnerships, public works, infrastructure, and transportation, to name just a few, have undoubtedly had a negative effect on the nation’s productivity, and the numbers we are seeing now most likely reflect some of that impact.

And finally, Paul Krugman makes a tremendously compelling case that expanding monopoly power in the U.S. is not only raising profits at the expense of wages, but also reducing competition and the incentive to make investments in innovation and productivity. Not only is such a period of Secular Stagnation, an environment marked by high profits and low investment (which is particularly questionable in a period with such a ridiculously low cost of capital) with persistently sluggish growth except during asset bubbles, perilous for the future of the U.S. economy, but Krugman also contends that it creates a serious impediment to achieving or sustaining full employment.

…a serious impediment, but not an impossibility.

For if one accepts that Full Employment is reached at that level of employment above which inflation is triggered, then we are most definitely at Full Employment. Despite the fact that Fed Chair Janet Yellen recently stated that Full Employment might not be reached until unemployment drops below 4.8% (key word might), there is absolutely no doubt that the current level of employment has started triggering wage inflation. But again, before we get into the debate around whether or not we have hit Full Employment, it’s worth highlighting some data points around the current state of the U.S. labor market.

Since September of 2010, we’ve had 66 straight months of positive monthly net job gains.

 

Monthly NFP

 

As a result, unemployment has dropped steadily from 10.1% in October of 2009 to 5.0% in March.

 

US Unemployment

 

Initial jobless claims are the lowest they’ve been since 1973. (And thanks to Calculatedriskblog.com for some awesome charts – it’s an outstanding site for economic/finance/market data, charts, and commentary).

 

Jobless Claims

 

Quits are rising, layoffs are at a 40-year low, and job openings are at an estimated 5.5 million (although that last number is suspect because government figures still do not account for excessive duplication in their job openings data sources).

 

JOLTS

 

And for the past few years, the number of employed people has grown faster than the employment population.

 

Employed and EPR

 

All of this has caused wages to start to increase.

 

Hourly Earnings w:GoldBug

 

 

And while the rise in wages has been faint and slow, they are rising. In Q1, in fact, ADP reported that wages for workers in their job for at least a year rose 4.6%, up from a rise of 4.1% in Q4 2015. Add to that the fact that more and more companies are voluntarily raising the wages of their lowest-paid employees and cities and states around the country are raising their minimum wage. Today, just 3.3% of the U.S. workforce is paid the Federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, down from 6% in 2010 and the lowest level since 2008.

But while the case for Full Employment is overwhelmingly strong, there are a few nagging details surrounding the labor market such as the 6 million people involuntarily working in part-time jobs because they cannot find full-time work and a record low labor force participation rate. Those factors definitely raise questions about whether or not the slack in the labor market has been completely eliminated.

 

Full Employment Slide

 

But the low labor force participation rate can be at least partially explained by retiring baby boomers (which is also potentially contributing to low productivity in the U.S.), and the number of involuntary part-time workers is rapidly shrinking. As a great article in the Wall Street Journal recently pointed out, companies are finding that not only does turning what had been a part-time job into a full-time job increase its appeal and make it easier to fill, that full-time worker creates a far better ROI even with the increase in cost.

Similarly, the increase in the past 10 years of 9.4 million people in ‘Alternative Work Arrangements’ such as driving for Uber may or may not reflect slack in the labor market. The growing gig economy might, in fact, reflect a permanent shift for a growing number of people who, for one reason or another, might not take a full-time job even if one were available. Rising wages might reduce that number, but at best, it’s uncertain how much and how that number changes for a given magnitude of wage inflation.

So despite some legitimate questions about how much slack remains in the labor market, that slack, to the extent that it exists at all, is very much at the margin, and there is no doubt whatsoever that continued strength in the labor market is creating upward pressure on wages and salaries. Conclusive evidence already exists, it’s getting stronger and more visible every month, and it’s likely to accelerate with more consecutive months of net job growth.

And whatever doubts anyone might still have, they’ll be completely obliterated with Friday’s jobs report for April. Based on LinkUp’s labor market data for February, in which new job openings from company websites rose 22% and total job openings rose 3%, we are forecasting net job gains for April of 315,000 jobs.

 

LinkUp April 2016 NFP

 

Nothing new, but we are once again the outlier among economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

 

NFP_2016.05.04

 

The approximately 60-day lag between February listings and April job gains is driven by what we are seeing in our Job Duration data which is down from 56 days in February but still remains above where it was in 2015. The increase in average job duration in our job search engine (which contains roughly 3.2 million jobs indexed directly from 50,000 company websites which creates a very clean data signal because we eliminate expired listings, duplicate listings, and job board pollution) from last August reflects the fact that companies are finding it harder to fill openings in a tightening labor market. I’d further speculate that the decline in job duration since February is the result of more people entering the workforce, a higher number of quits, people moving from part-time to full-time work, rising wages, and an increase in overall labor market fluidity or ‘liquidity.’

 

Job Duration By Month

 

In April, new jobs by state fell 2% and total jobs rose 1%, but we’ll get another reading for April next month when we pull data comparing April to May, so it’s too early to forecast precisely what job growth will look like in June. At a minimum, it’s safe to say that monthly job gains should remain solid through at least the end of Q2.

 

Jobs By State April 2016

 

And if trends over the last few years hold up in 2016, and there is every reason to believe they will, job gains in Q2 should come in somewhere between 700,000 – 800,000 jobs.

 

Job Gains By Qtr By Year Q1 2016

 

Such sustained levels of job growth (even after a likely downward revision of March’s NFP to somewhere below 200,000 jobs) would further drive up wages. Given declining corporate profits and low productivity, companies would most likely pass along the increased costs to their customers, resulting in fairly rapid inflation. That in turn, would likely result in a June rate hike by the Fed.

And while I’m in the mode of predicting the future, I’ll jump back to my obsession with Game of Thrones with a prediction that it will be Bran and his ability to see the past that will unlock the truth behind R+L=J.

We will be hosting a webinar on Full Employment on Wednesday, May 18th, at 1:00PM CST. Anyone interested in attending can register here.

Oh, and one more thing…

 

1

 

May 3, 2016 / Molly Moseley

“Meternity:” Having a baby is no vacation

Having a baby is a wonderful, magical experience. Those tiny toes, their milky breath and that angelic look while they sleep — this is what we moms remember long after our babies have grown. And while all the mushy stuff causes our hearts to burst with love, the reality of a newborn can be pretty difficult.

What we often try to erase from our memories is the sleep deprivation (what time is it?), the complete lack of routine (what’s a shower?) and the incredible amount of bodily fluid (pee, spit-up, unidentifiable other?). For moms of sick or colicky babies, it can be even more trying. It doesn’t matter if it’s your first child or fifth — if you hit the three-month mark with your newborn, you deserve a mommy badge of honor.

You love them with every fiber of your being, but there’s no denying there are some tough times early on. Which is why I’m not surprised by the uproar over the new novel “Meternity.” The premise focuses on a fictional career woman who, after years of covering for her co-workers when they have kids, decides to fake a pregnancy so she too can enjoy the glories of a maternity leave.

The storyline was inspired by the author’s own longing for time off after watching co-workers have children and enjoy their coveted maternity leave. She even wrote a New York Post essay on it. While I agree that everyone deserves some time off, anyone who thinks maternity leave is a relaxing vacation from the rigors of the office is quite mistaken. To be honest, sometimes going to work is easier than staying home with a brand-new baby.

I can excuse her lack of understanding for how taxing motherhood can be (which you really don’t know until you become one). I can’t, however, excuse her lack of knowledge about just how poor parental leave really is in our country. Maternity leave in the U.S. is weak; paid leave is virtually non-existent unless you work for a very generous company. Therefore, mothers often choose between unpaid leave or rushing back to work to make ends meet.

The U.S. is the only industrialized nation without paid maternity leave, joining the ranks of other countries that provide no type of financial support for mothers, such as Swaziland, Liberia and Lesotho. Meanwhile, in Germany you get 14 weeks at 65 percent of your wages, in Japan you get 14 weeks at 67 percent, and in New Zealand you get 14 weeks at 100 percent — plus another 38 weeks unpaid.

Bottom line to the author: We don’t need someone marginalizing what mothers do get, suggesting it is a relaxing, posh vacation. What we do need is to celebrate all hardworking mothers. For those of us in the workforce, let’s push for some real change so our daughters (and sons!) don’t have to stress the same way we have had to when they decide to become parents.

The best Mother’s Day gift we can give is to pass some long-overdue federal laws about paid parental leave. Check out www.paidleave.org to learn more. For employers, support mothers and other caregivers by implementing your own leave policies and following these 4 tips for a parent-friendly culture. It’s not merely good business; the wellness of mothers, babies and families depends on it.

April 27, 2016 / Stephanie Anderson

Prince’s impact beyond the music: Life lessons from a legend

Steve Quinlan / Shutterstock.com

Steve Quinlan / Shutterstock.com

When I first heard last week that Prince had died, I thought it was a joke. I assumed it was another one of those celebrity rumors. Unfortunately, the truth was quickly confirmed — another legend was gone too young.

Prince was beloved worldwide, but among Minnesotans he was a hometown hero. Born and raised in Minneapolis, he always had a soft spot for the Twin Cities. No matter how much his popularity grew, he called Minnesota home. We will always love him for that loyalty.

A night out in Minneapolis was always made a bit more magical with the prospect of a Prince sighting. He was known to jump on stage for impromptu concerts at small venues throughout the cities. He also supported Minnesota sports and communities more than any other celebrity. Although he had a private jet, the rumored last photo of Prince shows him riding his bike to Paisley Park, his home studio in Chanhassen.

No one will disagree that Prince was a complex man with many layers. Even if you weren’t a fan of his music, there are many reasons to be a fan of the man. The lessons he left behind can help guide everyone toward being a better person.

1. Be authentic
Be true to yourself. It’s something we’ve been told over and over again, and Prince was the perfect example. From the start, he embraced his unique rhythm and didn’t care what others thought. He did it so well, it made him the epitome of cool.

2. Respect others
If you’re going to be true to yourself, you have to let others do the same. Prince blurred many lines and influenced the communities near his home. He treated women as equal, often collaborating with and promoting female artists. His iconic symbol is even a unique blend of the male and female symbols.

3. Be generous
Prince was a generous philanthropist and most of us didn’t know it until he died. He gave millions to many different charities and in return he simply asked organizations not to say anything about it. He teaches us that giving is an important part of life and something that we should do without expecting anything in return.

4. Own your craft
Prince had a stage presence that couldn’t be ignored, but he also had the talent to back it up. A master lyricist. A brilliant guitarist. A visionary artist. He was always practicing and improving. What’s more, he seemed to only get better with age. No matter your talent or profession, perfecting your craft should never have an end date.

5. Embrace your roots
The world was Prince’s oyster. He could have lived and built his studio anywhere. He chose Minnesota. In numerous interviews people asked him about this, perplexed why someone like him would stay. My favorite Prince response: “I like the cold weather, it keeps the bad people away.” Of course it was more than just that — his roots were here and he never forgot it. And we are all better off thanks to that decision.

April 20, 2016 / Molly Moseley

HR takeaways from North Carolina’s controversial transgender laws

shutterstock_392752957North Carolina has made headlines recently after it announced a law that blocks local governments from passing anti-discrimination rules to protect gay and transgender people. This hot-button issue has everyone talking and backlash has been extensive.

Disney has vowed to cease any filming in the state. Musicians have cancelled shows in protest, including Bruce Springsteen and Ringo Starr. Businesses have stopped expansion plans in the state, like PayPal canceling plans to open a global operations center in Charlotte. Politicians are speaking out, including Minnesota’s own Governor Mark Dayton, who has banned non-essential business travel by state employees to North Carolina.

After great criticism, North Carolina’s governor modified the law, although much of it is still intact. According to United Press International, “McCrory used his executive order to try to peel back some of the effects of the law just 20 days after signing it. His order would prevent state workers from being fired for being gay or transgender. He also said he wants legislation that would give workers the right to sue for discrimination.”

This is a charged issue, and it certainly has interesting implications for employers and HR. Personal feelings aside, how can businesses support employees on both sides of the issue, prevent discrimination and stay politically neutral?

Beth Zoller, a legal editor with XpertHR, brings up a good point, saying that while this state law blocks local governments from passing anti-discrimination rules, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission makes it clear discrimination will not be tolerated.

“Even though North Carolina employers may be free to do as they wish under state law, it is wise for such employers to establish strict policies prohibiting discrimination, harassment and retaliation against LGBT individuals and make sure that such individuals do not suffer unequal treatment in the workplace,” says Zoller. “Otherwise, an employer may face an anti-discrimination claim under federal law.”

In regard to the controversial rule that employees must use the bathroom assigned to the gender noted on their birth certificated, Zoller says, “Employers should permit all employees, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, to use the restroom corresponding with their full-time gender identity and presentation, and provide all employees with access to restrooms that are safe, sanitary, convenient and dignified or face fines under OSHA.”

An employer is bound to have employees on both sides of this issue and the goal is to ensure that no one feels uncomfortable. One idea that Zoller offers is to allow workers uncomfortable with transitioning or transgender employees to use separate restroom facilities, such as a unisex single-occupant restroom. “The burden should be on the non-transgender individual to use a separate facility, otherwise the employer may risk a discrimination claim,” Zoller says.

While the laws are specific to North Carolina, these types of issues are affecting employers worldwide. What can other U.S. businesses learn from this?

“Whenever there is a divisive issue in the news that affects the workplace, your first priority is to make sure it doesn’t tear your team apart,” says Greg Harris, the president and CEO of Quantum Workplace. “To do that you need an environment that supports inclusion and provides everybody with an appropriate and safe way to report any discrimination they may encounter.”

My opinion is that it’s best to err on the side of caution and meet a higher standard. Always maintain open conversation with employees and ensure everyone feels safe. Understanding and inclusion today will positively affect your business for years down the road.

April 13, 2016 / Molly Moseley

Are your diversity efforts just lip service?

While no one will argue against the importance of diversity in the workplace, it too often receives lip service from executives who do little to make it a permanent thread in the company’s fabric. Diversity is considered nice but not essential when there are bigger fish to fry, such as benchmark analysis and sales growth.

What if I told you diversity is more than just a nicety? For numbers-minded folks, research shows a diverse workforce influences profits dramatically. McKinsey research shows that companies in the top quarter for gender or racial and ethnic diversity are more likely to have higher financial returns. Some noteworthy stats:

  • Companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.
  • Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.
  • In the United States, there is a linear relationship between racial and ethnic diversity and better financial performance. For every 10 percent increase in racial and ethnic diversity on the senior-executive team, earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) rise 0.8 percent.

This really shouldn’t shock anyone. A diverse workforce brings together people from many different backgrounds, allowing them to collaborate and generate ideas more effectively. For international companies, diversity provides an indisputable business edge when working with different cultures across the globe. Even for businesses that only function within the U.S., diversity fuels innovation while reflecting the melting pot that is our nation.

Diversity is also incredibly important from a recruiting standpoint. Hiring a diverse workforce not only means access to bigger talent pools, but also the opportunity to define what the company stands for — which helps attract top talent. For example, millennials — who soon will make up the majority of the workforce — consider diversity an important value, but it must be authentic.

To go beyond the lip-service phase to authentically instill diversity into the workplace, you must be intentional. Keep in mind, diversity isn’t just race and gender — it’s also seeking employees with different backgrounds, ideas and ways of thinking. Here are a few things organizations can do to encourage diversity:

1. Companies must take a long-term strategic approach to embrace diversity. The best way to achieve this is to put someone in charge of these efforts and hold them accountable. Evaluate progresses at least once a year.

2. Beware of forcing diversity because it will backfire. Diversity isn’t a quota to be met — it’s something that must fit into every aspect of day-to-day operations.

3. Leaders must embrace diversity for it to become a permanent part of the company’s makeup. If it starts at the top, it will trickle down. Consider executive training programs if necessary.

4. For recruiting, utilize diverse sources to attract diverse talent. If one source is providing you with cookie-cutter candidates, experiment elsewhere to find untapped markets.

5. Demonstrate your commitment to diversity by joining organizations such as www.nshmba.org and www.nbmbaa.org. By actively participating in groups like these, you’ll gain knowledge while building your company’s reputation.

April 6, 2016 / Stephanie Anderson

Simple methods for surviving the applicant tracking system

shutterstock_358256684It can feel cumbersome and repetitive, driving even the most patient job hunter up the wall. The applicant tracking system (ATS)  is a commonplace tool used by employers to feature accept applications and manage the recruiting process.

Last week we wrote about how employers can optimize ATS processes. Today we focus on the applicants themselves. The use of ATS is only going to grow, so it’s in your best interest to align your job hunt appropriately.

A visit to any job-seeker discussion board will offer loads of theories on how to beat the ATS robots. You’ll probably find your fair share of rants and expletives, too. If you’re getting to an ATS boiling point, it’s important to keep your cool and power forward. Remember, you can’t get the job you don’t apply for.

While there are numerous strategies to give yourself an edge against an ATS, here are five of the simplest tried-and-true methods to help you beat the bot and get your resume in front of human eyes.

1. Mimic the job description
How do you know what keywords the ATS is flagging? You don’t. But you can bet that the terms used in the job description will probably be included in the must-have list. Use them verbatim in your resume to ensure yours gets pulled. For more ideas, visit the company’s website and social media pages.

2. Use standard headings
ATS parses your information into buckets by searching your resume’s headers. That means it’s looking for standard phrasing and organization of your information. Resist the temptation to rename your education or work experience section to something more flowery, otherwise it might get skipped over completely.

3. Limit formatting
Fancy formatting can cause ATS havoc. While pretty on the eyes, complex fonts, graphics or photos don’t translate well to these software systems. It’s best to keep it simple, and if you want to convey your creative side, do so by including a link to your portfolio site for a recruiter to see at a later date.

4. Write out acronyms
Acronyms are all around us. Some companies have acronyms for names, and academic acronyms are everywhere, too. Technology acronyms can often feel like a different language. It’s hard to know what the ATS is looking for, so to decrease the chance of error, write out any phrase and then put the acronym in parenthesis.

5. Don’t sweat the length
While you shouldn’t produce a short novel, the length of your resume is not much of a concern to an ATS. In fact, a slightly longer resume offers more space to express your accomplishments and include those golden keywords. So if you’re tipping the two-page mark, don’t fret. You’re OK.

What other advice have you uncovered for beating the ATS? What have been your positive or negative experiences with this widely used approach for filtering applicants?

March 30, 2016 / Toby Dayton

March NFP Of Just 100,000 Jobs Will Be Well Below Consensus Estimates

It may have always been the case, but increasingly these days it seems as if we are in an era of enormous questions with monumental import. Along a spectrum moving from alarming to horrifying to cataclysmic, those questions would include the following: Can Donald Trump really capture the GOP nomination, and if so, what will arise from the bloody GOP carnage following the most gratifying electoral rout in American history? Can ISIS be obliterated and, related, what is the likelihood of more regular terrorism events in the west and around the world? Has climate change progressed beyond the point of no return, resulting in the ultimate demise of the planet?

How’s that for a happy spring?

It’s no wonder that in the face of such terrifying chaos, we’ve seen shocking increases in opiate addiction and, just as anesthetizing, the rise of binge-devouring epically-awesome serial television. And speaking of the latter, I’d add a few additional questions such as….will John Snow return in Season 6 (yes, of course), is R+L=J correct (seems likely), and will there ever again be a character anywhere in all of fiction as gloriously perfect as Tyrion Lannister (never)?

A little more mundane, perhaps, but no less uncertain are the endless questions swirling around the U.S. economy as Q1 comes to a close. How strong are the fundamentals underlying the economy? How long will oil prices stay so low and what impact will protracted low prices have on the economy? How long can we expect to remain sufficiently immune to persistent global weakness? How sustainable is solid consumer confidence and how far can a resilient consumer carry the U.S. economy? Is the inflation bogey-man anywhere to be found? Lastly, and most crucially, are the mysteries and vagaries surrounding the U.S. labor market.

As has been the case for nearly a decade now, all these questions coalesce into a single question – how far will the Fed raise interest rates this year? In explaining the recent decision to slow the projected path of rate increases laid out in December, Fed Chair Janet Yellen stated Tuesday that, “Given the risks to the outlook, I consider it appropriate for the committee to proceed cautiously in adjusting policy.” She further added that, “The major thing that’s changed between December and March that affects the baseline outlook is a slightly weaker projected pace of global growth. Global developments pose ongoing risks.”

But as the WSJ pointed out this morning, Yellen’s speech before the Economic Club of New York contrasts with other Fed officials who have a more positive outlook. Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart stated last week that, “there is sufficient momentum evidenced by the economic data to justify a further step at one of the coming meetings, possibly as early as the meeting scheduled for the end of April.” San Francisco Fed President John Williams stated that, “I don’t see a looming global crisis. If we see inflation continuing to consistently pick up, that would argue for a slightly steeper path for [monetary] policy.” And yet Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan urged Fed policy makers to “be patient and cautious.” WTF?!?!

Similar to trying to get a handle on GOP insanity or trying to predict Game of Thrones plot lines, it all boils down to the basic reality that no one, including the Fed, has any idea how fast interest rates will climb this year. And while my crystal ball is no less cloudy than anyone else’s, I can provide some insights into the U.S. labor market, what we see for Friday’s jobs numbers for March, and what our outlook is for job growth in the 2nd quarter.

Based on the declines in new and total job openings seen in our job search engine in January, we are forecasting a net gain of just 100,000 jobs for Friday’s non-farm payroll (NFP) report for March.

 

NFP Forecast March 2016

 

That is well below consensus estimates of a net gain of 202,000 jobs among economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

 

NFP_2016.03.30

 

If we are correct, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn’t adjust numbers for January or February (a highly unlikely scenario), then job gains for Q1 would come in at just over 500,000, similar to what we’ve seen in the 1st quarter for the past few years.

 

LinkUp monthly & NFP qtrly March 2016

 

But based on very strong gains in new job openings and a modest increase in total job openings in February, combined with solid job opening numbers for March, we are predicting strong job growth in Q2.

 

LinkUp new Total Mix March 2016

 

For new readers of this blog, LinkUp is a highly unique job search engine in that we only index jobs from company websites. Updated daily, our search engine indexes approximately 3 million job openings from 50,000 company websites around the country and around the world. There are no duplicate listings because we only pull in job openings from a single source – the employer’s website itself. And most importantly, we do not aggregate job listings from job boards or other ‘pay-to-post’ sources, so we completely eliminate job board pollution (scams, fraud, lead-gen, identity theft, phishing, money-mule, resume pooling, etc.).

As a result of our vastly differentiated approach to the online jobs space, we deliver a phenomenal user experience to job seekers and an industry-leading value proposition to our employer advertisers. Our unique approach also results in the largest, highest quality labor market dataset in the industry which we’ve been able to effectively leverage to make accurate job forecast for the past 5+ years.

So while I couldn’t even begin to imagine what the outcome of the gong show in Cleveland in July will be, nor whether or not Daenerys Targaryen will reclaim the throne in Westeros, we remain confident that Friday’s numbers will come in below consensus, the Fed will hold interest rates steady in April, and job growth in Q2 will be quite strong.

 

 

Because Friday is the 1st of the month, we do not yet have final job openings data for March. We will publish our March job openings data early next week along with an updated forecast for Q2 job growth and perhaps some additional commentary on Friday’s numbers.