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January 7, 2017 / Toby Dayton

Not A Bad Way To End The ‘Garbage Dumpster’ Year

It was a year of mixed results for our NFP forecasts, but at least we ended on a strong note with our prediction of a below-consensus NFP for December in spite of what remains a very strong, ‘Full Employment’ labor market marked by rising wages, solid monthly job gains, and rising job duration.

 

Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 5.55.39 PM

 

NFP_2017.01.06

 

We’ll post a more detailed self-assessment when the BLS issues its final revisions for November and December, but our preliminary grade for 2016 isn’t as bad as the overall dumpster-fire of a year.

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January 5, 2017 / Molly Moseley

Passive-Aggressiveness Is Killing Workplace Productivity

If you live in Minnesota, you know most of us are pretty hardcore when it comes to weather. The current forecast says the daily highs will barely graze the single digits until next week. Surviving frigid winters is a badge of honor, and many of us find ways to embrace it through sports and other fun outdoor activities.

Our fierce attitude toward Old Man Winter is in stark contrast to our reputation for being “Minnesota Nice.” Even in the workplace, being passive-aggressive is too often the go-to strategy when dealing with clients and coworkers.

Over the holidays I realized this can really affect us in a negative way. While celebrating with my brother, he said one of the reasons he would never move back to Minnesota is because of how passive-aggressive people are and how utterly unproductive that tendency is. No, it isn’t the cold winters that topped his list of reasons to stay away; it’s our behaviors!

Women in general can easily fall into the passive-aggressive trap. We say “sorry” too often, we worry about hurting people’s feelings, and we struggle with being direct. Some of this might be inherent, but much of it is because of societal expectations and dated social mores.

Check out “9 hilariously non-threatening leadership strategies for women,” a tongue-in-cheek article published by everydayfeminism.com. Each meme presents a threatening and non-threatening alternative. For example, if you’re setting a deadline for an employee, rather than saying “This is due on Monday,” ask the question “What do you think of getting this done by Monday?”

While it’s easy to laugh at articles like these, it’s not funny that this is the reality for so many women. We feel we must act a certain way as to not come off as bossy (and, you know, that other B word). It’s become so ingrained that some of us communicate like this without even realizing it. As my brother pointed out, it wastes time, causes confusion and certainly doesn’t move the needle forward for workplace equality.

So my mini New Year’s resolution is to be aware of how I’m communicating with my colleagues and work on being more direct. When something can be said in an eight-word email, it doesn’t require a whole paragraph. Being clear and concise is essential to avoid miscommunication and keep things buzzing forward. It may not be the stereotypical Minnesota way, but it’s going to be my way from now on.

I encourage other women and men to do the same. Research shows it’s beneficial in your personal life as well as your professional one. I can certainly think of a few times I told my spouse something and the conversation became so convoluted that the one point I wanted to make didn’t get through. Same goes with kids, too.

What’s your take? Are you seeing passive aggressive behavior in your office? How do you deal with it?

January 4, 2017 / Toby Dayton

Merry Christmas Donald: Despite Disappointing December Job Gains, You’re Inheriting a Very Strong Job Market

Based on new and total job openings data generated from LinkUp’s job search engine, which includes more than 3 million job openings indexed exclusively each day from approximately 30,000 company websites, we are forecasting a net gain of 125,000 for Friday’s jobs report for December.

 

LinkUp NFP Forecast DEC2016

 

Our forecast, quite a bit below consensus estimates, stems from the rather sharp decline in new and total job openings we saw in November which would indicate more muted job gains in December. Further evidence of a somewhat disappointing NFP number on Friday is contained in LinkUp’s jobs duration data which shows a continued decline since its peak in August in the number of jobs filled in less than 30 days.

 

Job Duration Detail 2 DEC2016

 

Those declines pushed overall job duration up to 47 days in December.

 

Job Duration DEC2016

 

But as we’ve highlighted in the past, a rising duration number can be indicative of a labor market that is cooling off and/or an environment in which employers are finding it harder and harder to find applicants to fill job openings. In this case, we suspect that both are true. Hiring does tend to slow down in December (non-farm payrolls in December have declined an average of 30% from November for the past 3 years), and we have been in a Full-Employment environment since early Q2 which means that filling positions is getting harder and harder for companies.

And while we expect a below-consensus NFP report Friday, there is no mistaking the fact that we remain in a very, very strong labor market. New and total job listings in LinkUp’s search engine rose 6% and 1% respectively in December which should result in strong job gains in January and perhaps the entire first quarter.

 

Jobs By State December 2016

 

So Merry Christmas, Donald. You will be inheriting an incredibly strong, robust labor market that shows no sign whatsoever of slowing down. I can’t wait to read your tweets in the next few months taking all the credit for what should be a series of strong jobs reports in your nascent administration.

 

December 28, 2016 / Molly Moseley

Greatest hits: LinkUp’s hottest blog posts of the year

TheLinkUpBlog_imageThe year 2016 had its peaks and pits, but no matter what, it’s one to remember. The LinkUp blog continued to grow in readership and served as a platform for us to speak our minds and tackle sometimes tough topics. It’s more than just what we have to say; it’s what you — the readers — commented regarding these myriad topics. It’s this ongoing conversation that fuels thought leadership and innovation in our industry, so let’s keep our voices strong in the new year.

With that being said, here are the top 5 “greatest hits” from the 2016 blog:

5. Having a baby is no vacation

Having a baby is a life-changing experience. The novel “Meternity” is about a fictional character who covets her coworker’s maternity leave so much that she fakes a pregnancy to experience the break herself. This story didn’t sit well with many mothers who know those first handful of months can be really tough. What’s more, with the poor parental leave policies in the U.S. for most workers, new moms must often choose between taking unpaid leave or rushing back to work to make ends meet. Having a baby certainly is no picnic for the majority of working women.

4. Removing salary disclosures helps job seekers win equality

It’s the same whether you’re buying bananas or hiring an employee: When you know how little you can pay for something you need, it’s human nature to seek out the best price. Whether on purpose or subconsciously, many companies are able to wage-gouge employees by asking on the application how much professionals have made at their current and previous positions. This blog analyzes the Massachusetts law that makes it illegal to ask about past compensation on an application, and why this could be a real move in the right direction for equal pay for all workers.

3. Employee resignations: counter offer or say good bye?

For managers and those in HR, deciding whether to make a counteroffer to an employee who has given notice can be incredibly difficult. That decision must emerge after numerous considerations. The problem is likely more than just salary; it could be the company isn’t a good match for the employee’s work style or there aren’t enough advancement opportunities. Unless you’re willing to look deeply into the problem and fix it, it’s best to let the employee go and part ways amicably.

2. Employees working while ill? Maybe it’s the PTO policy

As temperatures dip, the coughs, sniffles and sneezes seem to spread like wildfire across the office. People become ill; some will call in sick while others will try to power through and work despite having the flu. Of course it’s best for sick employees to stay home to avoid spreading their illnesses, but that’s not always what happens. This blog looks at the pros and cons of several approaches to PTO that can encourage sick employees to stay away.

1. Drum roll for … How Uber’s labor model is changing talent-acquisition

What really caught readers’ attention was our blog about Uber’s unique labor model and how it’s shifting the hiring landscape. For recruiters, the trend of businesses offering on-demand services means tackling unique hurdles. Thinking strategically, broadening outreach and offering sign-on extras can all speak volumes when attracting new talent. Retention is another beast that must be tamed. This blog offers nuggets of insight to help modern recruiters with these new challenges.

What’s next for 2017? That’s up to you! Please share your thoughts on what you want to hear more about in the new year.

December 21, 2016 / Stephanie Anderson

Why the holiday lull is the ideal time to prime for 2017

From now until the end of the year, offices across the United States will transform from hustling hubs of business to virtually vacant buildings filled with eerie silence. No, it’s not the apocalypse; it’s just the holidays! Many people are off due to travel plans, or because they have to use up PTO before it expires at the end of the year.

For the rest of us who are stuck at work, a calm, relaxing environment is a welcome change to the often busy periods that lead up to the year’s end. In fact, some people plan to work these days simply because they know they’ll be low-key. What’s more, it’s the ideal time to tackle that to-do list that always gets put off for higher priorities.

Think about it: A quiet office, minimal workload and few requests from colleagues and clients open up plenty of time to usher out 2016 and welcome 2017 with organization, optimism and enthusiasm. Get ready for the new year by using your open time to do these critical to-dos and give yourself a step up for the future:

Organize

The modern worker has more than just stacks of paper and folders to file. Digital clutter is taking over our lives. Use this available time to archive electronic files from 2016 and document achievements and other benchmarks for easy access throughout the new year. A clean digital space will help streamline workflows, plus it simply feels good to be electronically organized.

Clean

When’s the last time you dusted your desk? Gross, right? It doesn’t take much time to clean your office and swipe gungy surfaces with disinfectant wipes. Strive to reduce clutter, and maybe update those photos of the kids and that vacation getaway from four years ago. Cleaning should extend to your email, too, so be sure to finally delete old items.

Analytics

Accountants shouldn’t be the only ones crunching numbers at the end of the year. Use this time to go over metrics and calculate successes and failures from 2016. With hard data in hand, it can be much easier to strategize and find the right paths to pursue in the new year. Plus, a fresh report welcoming company leaders upon their holiday return is sure to leave a positive impression.

Goals

In preparation for the new year, jot down fresh team goals and add key milestones to the calendar. Your supervisor will appreciate your willingness to tackle 2017 with such fervor. When analyzing goals, remember to turn the lens inward. Determine what you want to do professionally in the next year, and identify training and personal development initiatives to get you there.

Network

With many people out of the office, it can seem counterintuitive to network right now. However, it’s the perfect time to spruce up your LinkedIn profile and send out greetings of well wishes for the new year. For targeted folks, offer to celebrate 2017 by sharing a cup of coffee (your treat!) so you can discuss the latest industry news and forecasts for the year.

December 19, 2016 / Molly Moseley

Negotiation will be the business skill of the year

shutterstock_375763966With 2017 just around the corner, everyone is watching with bated breath to see what the new year brings. The main influential factor: the new presidential administration. The result: lots of changes.

Right now the economy is solid. The GDP growth in Q3 was bigger than expected and the Fed will likely raise rates in December, so 2017 will start out grand. However the lack of clarity of Trump’s policy positions and uncertainty of his leadership will cause great angst among the nation’s business community and HR.

My prediction is that in 2017, negotiation will be the key to success. As a shrewd business man, negotiation has been and will continue to be at the forefront of all issues he tackles, policies he sets forth, and changes he makes. Business leaders must prepare, invest and possibly maneuver to protect their assets, investors and employees.

Without a strong voice and willingness to participate in the conversation, they’ll risk losing their place in the discussion. And with the below hot topics destined to change the face of the business marketplace, this is certainly not the time to lose that voice.

Outsourcing: One of Trump’s most recent successful negotiations was with Indiana-based Carrier to keep nearly 1,000 jobs in the country rather than outsourcing to Mexico. This effort, while great for the Carrier employers, is not sustainable every time a company plans to move jobs. It will be interesting to watch how other companies attempt to negotiate with governmental entities to gain subsidies and other incentives. What’s more, how will this affect the free marketplace?

Immigration: With Trump vowing to crack down on H1B visas, numerous industries could suffer including farming and manufacturing. Some companies are already striving to maintain protected-immigrant status for their strongest employees. Will strong negotiation make an impact for these at-risk workers? If these companies fail, there may be a massive workforce shortage.

Health care: Changes will likely come to the Affordable Care Act, which is already a hot topic for businesses assessing the costs of employment. Look to Health Savings Accounts as the future of insurance as HR executives nationwide research and negotiate rates for employees.

Paid family leave: The United States is embarrassingly lagging behind in rights for parents and caregivers who need to take time off work for family medical reasons. While positive for employees, employers argue the costs of such a mandate could debilitate businesses. Will Trump knock down potential legislation? If so, will progressive companies step up to voluntarily offer these benefits?

Overtime: NPR estimates 4.2 million workers will become eligible to earn OT this month due to President Obama’s executive orders. Many argue this will come at the cost of employee raises, and potentially, jobs. Trump could overturn this rule, which has positive and negative consequences. Unions in particular, may have hard-fought negotiations about OT to look forward to in 2017.

Infrastructure spending: Trump touts increased spending on infrastructure, which could positively boost the economy and job market from urban to rural areas. Will this actually come to fruition, and furthermore, how will these improvements be funded? Trump’s true negotiation prowess will need to shine in order to make this all come together as he claims.

Tax cuts: Businesses could invest more in innovation which, in turn, could create more jobs. Employees who spend the extra money (rather than save) are putting more money into the economy and new jobs are needed to produce the goods and services they are purchasing.

Ultimately, based on Trump’s background and rhetoric, we’ll all get a first-row view to how cutthroat businesses negotiation plays out in a governmental format. Will his vast (and often vague) promises materialize? That’s the main source of uncertainty as we all look to the future.

 

December 14, 2016 / Stephanie Anderson

Work from home: How to distinguish real jobs from the scams

shutterstock_400131289Thanks to advanced technology, working from home is a rapidly expanding opportunity for many people. It’s for more than just data entry clerks and telemarketers; work-from-home options are flourishing for experienced professionals as well.

It’s a great perk that supports work-life balance and speaks volumes to the modern employee. Millennials adore working from home, or wherever they feel they are most productive, such as the park or coffee shop. For those with young families it can provide the flexibility needed to be more active in their children’s lives. For people caring for an aging parent or special-needs family member, it allows more time for appointments and therapies. For the aging workforce, it finally takes the dreaded commute out of the equation.

And the employer can benefit, too. While not possible for every industry or profession, hiring a work-from-home employee can save lots of money on expenses associated with equipment, electricity and more. Turnover may be less and engagement may be higher, providing further financial benefits.

While legitimate work-from-home opportunities are growing across the country, it also has opened the floodgates for scammers to take advantage of job seekers. You’ve probably heard nightmare stories of someone paying hundreds to set up for a telecommute position, only to learn it’s a fake job and the money went to a criminal. Or, they provided confidential information to the “hiring manager” and later learned they were a victim of identity theft.

In fact, an estimated 2.5 million Americans are victims of job scams each year. Real opportunities are available, but you need to know these best methods for finding them.

Become a master of the search

Proactively searching for a work-from-home job is the best method for finding a real opportunity. Because LinkUp only pulls open positions from companies’ websites, it’s an easy option for avoiding scams. Use search terms like “telecommute” or “telecommuting” along with other industry terms to customize your search to your skill set.

Note the details

Hints that a job is a scam can often be found in the minor details. Does an email’s domain match the company’s name, or does it appear to be a personal email? Is there a phone number and address available? To test the waters, send an email asking for missing information. You could also check company info and the person’s credentials on LinkedIn.

Get ready to research

Once you find a potential opportunity, research to gauge its authenticity. Find the company website and search for the job opportunity directly on the site. Next, do a Google search of the company name followed by “scam” and see what pops up. When in doubt, trust your gut.

Understand your options

Some telecommuting jobs pay hourly and others are salaried. Still others might be structured to pay based on sales or productivity. Recently multilevel marketing jobs have grown, but many are misleading about the amount of money people can make. Have realistic expectations and know your options. Remember, a legitimate work-from-home opportunity should never require money in order to assume the position.

The allure of flexibility causes otherwise smart folks to let their guard down, and they end up applying for scam positions. If you have a family member with medical problems, there can be even greater pressure to find work that will give you more time to care for them properly.

If you find yourself in this scenario, research the Family and Medical Leave Act and how it applies to your current position. If you and your employer meet the requirements, using intermittent FMLA might be a good option, so talk with your HR representative. They may be willing to help you out in other ways, too, if you just make your voice known.

December 1, 2016 / Toby Dayton

LinkUp Forecasting Net Gain of 140,000 Jobs in November

A few times a year, the calendar is such that the first Friday of the month, the day that the Bureau of Labor Statistics typically releases its Employment Situation report, falls on the 1st or 2nd of the month. Because we don’t pull our monthly data for our Non-Farm Payroll forecast model until about 5AM on the 1st of each month, we have to scramble in those instances to calculate our NFP forecast, submit it to Bloomberg, and publish our commentary as early as possible before the jobs report gets released.

December is just such a month, and with a tight schedule before the jobs report tomorrow, I’ll forego any commentary and simply publish our data. (Admittedly, this also serves as a convenient excuse to put off to another day having to write anything about the nightmare election).

Based on new and total job openings in LinkUp’s job search engine in October, we are forecasting a net gain of 140,000 jobs in November, slightly below October’s job gains and below consensus forecast.

As background, LinkUp’s job search engine only indexes jobs directly from company websites. Today, our search engine includes roughly 3.5 million openings sourced from approximately 30,000 company websites in the U.S. and around the world. Because we update the search engine every day, the jobs are always current, and there are no duplicates because we only source jobs from as single source – the employer’s website itself. And perhaps most importantly, LinkUp’s labor market data eliminates job board pollution (job scams, fraudulent posting, phishing posts, identity theft, money-mule scams, resume gathering, etc.) because we do not aggregate jobs from other job sites the way that other aggregators and jobs data companies do. 

 

LinkUp NFP Nov 2016

 

Job duration rose from just over 44 days to 46 days in November, pointing to slowing hiring velocity in the labor market due to slowing labor demand and/or growing difficulty in filling openings due to a Full Employment environment which we’ve been in since at least Q2.

 

Job Duration November 2016

 

To be clear, the labor demand remains strong and wages will undoubtedly continue to climb, but not surprisingly given the Full Employment environment, the pace of hiring has been slowing down. And it looks like that trend will continue given LinkUp’s data from November, a month in which new job listings dropped 14% from October and total job openings declined 5%. Those declines were spread throughout the entire country, as indicated in the table below.

 

Jobs by State Nov 2016

 

The Jobs by Category picture for November is equally as grim.

 

Jobs By Category November 2016

 

So tomorrow, look for a decent but below-consensus jobs report of 140,000 jobs gained in November which should be more than sufficient to allow the Fed to raise rates later this month.

December 1, 2016 / Stephanie Anderson

New year, new job: The smart timeline to success starts now

shutterstock_252366133You’ve done the exercise thing. You’re already eating healthy. Your house is organized and winter travel plans are confirmed. All those standard New Year’s resolutions don’t matter this year anyway, because in 2017 you have a new goal: an awesome new job.

Many people hope for a new job in the new year. However, most people put off job hunting to-do’s until Jan. 1. This can be a big mistake. By waiting, you’ll join thousands of other eager candidates who are sprucing up their resumes and organizing their contact lists once the holidays are over. The competition is guaranteed to pick up, but you can get an edge against other candidates by starting job search steps right now.

With the holiday hubbub in full force, it might seem impossible to squeeze in time for job search essentials. Don’t worry. Starting a job hunt need not make you a holiday Scrooge. This smart timeline full of helpful to-do’s is an easy solution so you can get a head start on the competition while staying merry and bright all December long.

1st week of December: This is the best time to focus on the fundamental tool of a smart job search: a concise yet compelling resume. Revise, edit and then revise again. With each pass you’re perfecting the main document used to sell yourself to a hiring manager. Once you think it’s near perfect, have at least two trusted friends or professional contacts review and provide honest feedback. Then make adjustments as necessary.

2nd week of December: Start week two by sprucing up your LinkedIn profile. Use your updated resume to refresh your online information and add a new professional head shot to capture more eyes. Next, spend time creating your employer wish list. This is a document of all the companies you’d like to work for if offered a job. Join talent communities at each, researching options at various social media platforms. Follow these communities daily and interact as necessary with posts and comments.

3rd week of December: It’s time to set up job alerts that focus on positions that pique your interest. Use industry keywords to ensure you get the right information funneled to your inbox. Then create a spreadsheet tracking jobs you’ve flagged as top opportunities. Soon you’ll also use this document to track where you are in the application process so you stay organized and on top of next steps.

4th week of December: Networking is essential to getting a new job. However, many people are busy during the holidays so it will be difficult to connect and create any traction. Instead, make a list of people you want to connect with right after the holidays to discuss your professional endeavors. Perhaps an invitation for coffee to toast the new year will be the perfect networking opportunity that will land you your new gig.

In just four weeks you’ll be ahead of the curve so you can hit the ground running in the new year. While everyone else is starting from scratch, you’ll be leading the pack in 2017 and beyond.

November 22, 2016 / Molly Moseley

Closed on Thanksgiving: The newest retail trend supports workers and the bottom line

About five years ago it seemed retailers left and right were announcing earlier openings that extended to Thanksgiving Day. They wanted to grab an extra slice of that profit pie by luring in shoppers the day prior to the big Black Friday rush. Images of long lines danced in their heads, but much like actual sugar plums, the idea was more appealing than the reality.

Fast-forward to today. Sure, the standard big-box retailers are still planning to open at some point during Thanksgiving, but malls, chains and independent stores have announced full Thanksgiving closures at higher rates than in the recent past.

Why the change of heart? There are a few big reasons that can’t be ignored.

First, despite the potential bargains, people are shopping less on Thanksgiving Day than before. According to the National Retail Federation, Thanksgiving Day saw 44.8 million adults shop in 2013, 43.1 million in 2014, and 34.6 million in 2015. This year, experts predict declines once again, partly due, no doubt, to more people shopping deals online from the comfort of their home.

Forbes lists 52 top retailers who are closed on Thanksgiving, including Nordstrom, Marshalls and Costco. Mall of America (just a short drive from the LinkUp offices) is closed on Thanksgiving, but ultimately it’s up to store owners at the mall to decide whether they will open.

MOA’s much talked about move is estimated to give approximately 1,200 employees the day off, which they can spend with family and friends, notes CNN Money. That’s highly appealing not only to the workers, but also to consumers.

That brings us to the second reason companies are changing their ways: Conscientious shoppers are seeking socially responsible companies at which to spend their holiday dollars. Companies that “have heart” are appealing across generations, from baby boomers who value the tradition of Thanksgiving, to millennials who want to confidently buy from ethical companies.

Finally, the last (and, in my opinion, most compelling) reason to close on Thanksgiving is that it’s doing right by employees. Giving staff time off is important, particularly during the year-end period when employees often pull overtime regularly. One day off to unwind can mean improved productivity and morale for the rest of the holiday season, because employees believe the employer truly cares about their well-being. What’s more, employees will remember the goodwill long after the holidays are over.

And those socially conscious shoppers? They remember, too. I personally have several friends and relatives that won’t shop at certain stores year-round based on whether they are open on Thanksgiving. That’s just how important it is to them. It’s putting people above dollars for a day, and that’s what leaves the lasting impression. The irony seems to be that those stores are ultimately getting more of those dollars, so it’s a win-win for everyone.