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January 8, 2015 / Toby Dayton

LinkUp’s 2014 Track Record In Forecasting the Monthly Jobs Numbers

Earlier this week when we published our forecast for Friday’s December jobs report and I sent out a few Tweets with the always-entertaining hash-tag #NFPGuesses, Joe Weisenthal of Bloomberg asked what our track-record was in forecasting the monthly jobs numbers.

tweets

I provided him with a brief response that we were off 1.9% from the YTD BLS numbers, but indicated as well that I would write a blog post that provided a bit more detail regarding our 2014 track record in forecasting the monthly jobs numbers. As such, I will provide no additional commentary, but rather simply publish below the charts and graphs that we maintain to track the accuracy of our forecasting model.

YTD, we are off 1.9% from the BLS Data as compared to the Bloomberg consensus estimate which is off 13.4%.

YTD Track record thru Nov

 

The monthly data provides additional detail about our variance from BLS.

 

 

LinkUp Bloomberg BLS

 

We also give ourselves a monthly grade based on not only the quantitative measure but also the narrative around each of our forecasts each month (which can be found in our monthly forecast blog posts). This is obviously hugely subjective and completely self-graded, but it does provide some insight into how we assess our own track record each month.

Monthly Commentary

And as far as tomorrow’s Employment Situation Report, our forecast is quite a bit below consensus. Although our 170k call is not the lowest, we are definitely an outlier on the downside. With the ADP and jobless claims data this week, it’s anyone’s call what kind of number we’ll see tomorrow.

NFP_2015.01.08

January 7, 2015 / Molly Moseley

Is it time to retire annual reviews? Effective alternatives to consider

shutterstock_210394492If it’s time for your annual review, it probably goes something like this: you meet with your supervisor in a private room, he or she rates your performance using a variety of scales, you talk about where you need to improve in the future, and at the end you learn if you get a pay increase.

It’s no wonder most workers dread this process!

Beyond being ineffective, annual reviews can actually have many negative consequences. These one-sided conversations can diminish the employee-manager relationship and reinforce hierarchy within an organization. Traditional reviews often don’t give employees any helpful information about about how to do their jobs better, nor do they motivate them to strive for more. They can hurt a team’s dynamic and its ability to work cohesively, cause unneeded stress and often leave employees feeling unappreciated.

Annual reviews are like an ancient tradition. We keep doing them, but we really aren’t sure why except that it’s what we’ve always done in business. But more and more people are arguing it’s time for a change, and there are many alternatives for innovative companies willing to think outside the box.

Alternative methods for reviewing employee performance

Start a conversation between HR, management and any other important parties about the effectiveness of the current system. Then brainstorm how it can be improved. This might entail an overhaul that completely abandons annual reviews. It also could mean a fresh approach to the current process to make it more effective and more likely to produce a positive outcome. Here are three ideas to get “the talk” started:

1. Why annually?
Employees work all year long – why are they reviewed just once a year? Build a better relationship between employees and managers by having one-on-one meetings more regularly. For some companies this means once a month and others once a quarter. Additionally, always maintain an open-door policy so things can be discussed even when a meeting isn’t scheduled. Additionally, kill annual performance raises and instead adopt merit raises that can be earned at any time, not just once a year.

2. Key in on collaboration
Skip whatever rating system your company has and make reviews more conversational than judgmental. Be honest with employees, and let them voice both their joys and concerns at work. You both should talk about the job and where improvements can be made; two people working together in a trusted manner can uncover some truly remarkable things. Be a coach and work on how you can strengthen your team and build up morale and engagement!

3. Make reviews a team effort
Traditional reviews can seem pointless to employees because they come from supervisors who are not really in touch with what they do on a day-to-day basis. While meetings should still be led by managers, why not ask for feedback from the team beforehand? Peer review can be powerful, plus it’s a meaningful way for others to show their positive feelings about the employee in addition to any areas for improvement. Best practices are to keep peer feedback anonymous so it’s most useful.

Do you work at a company that has a modern take on the annual review? How do you feel these approaches benefit employees and the company as a whole?

January 2, 2015 / Toby Dayton

Despite Strong Job Gains Of Late, Labor Market Remains An Enigma; LinkUp Forecasting Weaker Jobs Numbers For December

With Alan Turing much on my mind these days (being knee-deep in Andrew Hodges’ outstanding book and having just seen the phenomenal movie it inspired), it’s hard not to apply the word Enigma to todays’ labor market. Without question, the overall trend of the labor market has been positive for quite some time and momentum has recently been accelerating. The U.S. economy added 2.65 million jobs in the first 11 months of 2014 (as compared to 2.25 million jobs through November of 2013) and November’s gain of 321,000 jobs marked the 5oth straight month of positive job growth and the largest monthly gain since January of 2012. 2014 will stand as the best year of U.S. job growth since 1999. As Krugmam so perfectly articulated in his editorial entitled ‘Tidings of Comfort’ on December 25th:

Consider next the state of the economy. There’s no question that recovery from the 2008 crisis has been painfully slow and should have been much faster. In particular, the economy has been held back by unprecedented cuts in public spending and employment.

But the story you hear all the time portrays economic policy as an unmitigated disaster, with President Obama’s alleged hostility to business holding back investment and job creation. So it comes as something of a shock when you look at the actual record and discover that growth and job creation have been substantially faster during the Obama recovery than they were during the Bush recovery last decade (even ignoring the crisis at the end), and that while housing is still depressed, business investment has been quite strong.

What’s more, recent data suggest that the economy is gathering strength — 5 percent growth in the last quarter! Oh, and not that it matters very much, but there are some people who like to claim that economic success should be judged by the performance of the stock market. And stock prices, which hit a low point in March 2009, accompanied by declarations from prominent Republican economists that Mr. Obama was killing the market economy, have tripled since then. Maybe economic management hasn’t been that bad, after all.

But despite all of those most welcomed data points, there are a number of critical aspects of the labor market that remain perplexing to economists. Chief among them are questions relating to how much slack remains in the labor market and when wages will start to rise should steady job gains continue in 2015 as most believe will be the case. We touched on it last month, but wage growth has hardly budged at all and the labor force participation rate remains at historically low levels. Digging into those issues raises questions around the shift in the Beveridge Curve and the extent of ‘Labor Market Scarring’ from the Great Recession as well as broader macro-trends such as the pace of baby-boomer retirement and widely debated structural changes in the economy and today’s labor market. All of these issues (not to mention the real or imagined impact of the Affordable Care Act, states’ minimum wage laws, a strengthening dollar, etc.) will be of paramount importance in forecasting job growth, GDP growth, inflation, and when the Fed will raise interest rates. And as complex as those issues are, there isn’t even consensus around what the labor market will look like in the next 60 to 90 days, let alone the next 12 months.

Things are always a bit turbulent as far as forecasting job growth at year-end goes, and this year is no different. With strong holiday hiring in the second half of 2014, seasonal factors should be more dramatic than in years past. Combined with that, weather always seems to play into some people’s forecasts, as do other seasonal factors like ADP’s ‘Purge Effect’ and to what extent companies might accelerate hiring earlier in the year, to name just a few. While the horrific mess in Washington (particularly Congress) seems to be having less impact on labor market uncertainty as compared to years past, new questions have arisen around what net impact the price of oil might have on hiring.

Putting this all together, the big question is whether or not the labor market can sustain the kind of job growth we saw in 2014 or if the optimists are going to get crushed yet again (see Charlie Brown/Lucy analogy from our blog post last April). As the WSJ pointed out this morning, “For the past five years the economy has given several head fakes, where job growth looked to be achieving real velocity only to falter.” Unfortunately, the data from LinkUp points to a somewhat disappointing start to 2015.

In November, the blended average of new and total job listings from our search engine (which indexes 2.5 million job openings from 50,000 company websites) fell 12.7% from October. Because the best indicator of a future hire is an employer posting a job opening on its own company website, the steep decline in job openings from November points to weaker job growth in December and serves as the basis for our below-consensus forecast. We are projecting that the U.S. economy added a net gain of only 170,000 jobs in December, well below the 250,000 consensus estimate.

 

LinkUp 60-day Forecast for Dec '14 and Jan '15

 

As disappointing as it would be to have December’s numbers come in below consensus, a net gain of even 170,000 jobs would still cap off a phenomenal year of job growth.

 

Job Growth by Qtr Stacked '10-'14

 

Presented in slightly different form…

 

Job Growth by Qtr '10-'14

 

Unfortunately, both new and total job openings in LinkUp’s job search engine fell again in December. New job openings by state dropped 6%, while total job openings fell 3% from the prior month. Those declines were broadly distributed across the U.S., with 37 states showing a decrease in job openings and 46 showing a decrease in total job openings.

 

Jobs by State Dec 2014

 

New and total job listings by category didn’t fare much better, with new and total job openings falling from November by 7% and 3% respectively.

 

Jobs By Category Dec 2014

 

Based on the decline in LinkUp’s job openings in December, our preliminary forecast for January is that the U.S. economy will add only 120,000 jobs in the first month of the new year. Regarding our 60-day forecast, however, it’s important to note that because of our ‘paired-month’ methodology, we’ll get another set of data for January when we compare January’s numbers to December’s numbers in 30 days, and our forecast for January will be updated accordingly.

Luckily, our data from December wasn’t all doom and gloom. On a slightly more positive note, LinkUp Job Listing Duration fell from 43.6 days in November to 42.2 days in December, providing an encouraging sign that the pace of hiring continues to accelerate.

 

LinkUp Job Duration December 2014

 

LinkUp’s Job Listing Duration indicates the number of days that job openings were on LinkUp before they were removed from our search engine at some point in the past 6 months, presumably because they were filled with a hire. Looking at the chart above, between July and December, 2.9 million job listings were taken off company websites throughout the country, 1.1 million of which were on the company’s corporate website for less than 15 days, 615,000 of which were on the site for between 16-30 days, etc. The average number of days that all 2.9 million job openings were listed by the employer on their corporate website was 42.2 days, down from 51.0 days in April. So according to our data, the pace of hiring among the companies in LinkUp’s job search engine accelerated in Q4, a good sign that companies are filling their jobs faster and more aggressively than they were earlier in the year.

While this is good news for sure, it potentially conflicts with the overall decline in new and total job openings on LinkUp in December. Or perhaps the decline in job openings last month can largely be attributed to seasonal factors given that 25% of the drop in new job listings were in Retail. But of course, even after removing Retail jobs from the total, new job openings still fell by 32,000 from November. Chalk it up as just one more enigma to add to the list of question marks that will only be answered as the year unfolds.

Enigma Images

 

December 30, 2014 / Stephanie Anderson

10 career-boosting New Year’s resolutions too simple to ignore

shutterstock_233930755Will you be making New Year’s resolutions for 2015? While 50 percent of us make resolutions each year, just 8 percent are actually successful at achieving those goals. This year, it’s time to do something different.

When it comes to your career, there’s no better time to take stock and set goals than the start of the year, but that doesn’t mean setting the bar so high that the outcome is virtually impossible to achieve. These 10 resolutions will supercharge your career and position you for success in the new year, and the best part is they are so simple, they are practically fail-safe.

1. Update your professional online profile
Don’t have a LinkedIn profile? Get one. Have one but never sign on? Resolve to do so regularly and become an active member. Update your information, load a fresh head shot and strive to make connections or post at least once a week in the new year.

2. Join an industry association
Become a member of a local industry association and start networking. Make it your goal to attend events at least quarterly. Perhaps you’ll learn new things and meet new people who can help you advance your career and grow your reputation.

3. Define career goals
In college, you had a map for completing your degree and you assessed it regularly to ensure you were on track. Now that you have a career, when is the last time you defined goals and paths for achieving them? Ask yourself where you want to be professionally in one year and five years, and brainstorm ideas for getting there. Write it down and reference it throughout the year!

4. Be proactive and ask for new responsibilities
It’s easy to get stuck in a comfortable rut at work, but that often doesn’t grow your skills or put your name at the top of the promotion list. Resolve to be proactive and ask for new responsibilities rather than waiting to be told. Your initiative will get noticed, plus you can propose projects of interest to you so you are more engaged with your work. Lead meetings, publish an internal newsletter or start a company book club; the sky’s the limit.

5. Brush up on skills
You don’t necessarily need to head back to a university to further your education, just look at non-credit career courses through local colleges, industry associations and even community education sources. A few affordable classes can boost your career development and give you an edge in the workforce. Bring it up to your boss and your employer might even pay for it!

6. Embrace criticism
Some of the most successful people are those who embrace criticism rather than getting defensive about it. When someone tells you about a mistake your made or how you can do something more efficiently, keep an open mind, be thankful for the critique and learn. Criticism is not the enemy, and when used correctly, it can be an big ally in growing your career.

7. Use your PTO
Think this will be an easy resolution to keep? Studies show that more than 40 percent of American workers do not plan to use all of their PTO. Time off provides important mental and physical breaks from your job, so use it when needed; it’s part of your compensation package, after all.

8. Be more visible
Aim to be more visible to your boss and within the organization as a whole. Resolve to get more face time with your supervisor and be more active at company events. Contribute input at meetings, attend social gatherings and offer to organize company functions. Consider again employee programs you previously dismissed, such as group luncheons, mentoring opportunities and company-sponsored clubs.

9. Complete tasks before deadlines
Meeting deadlines is a critical part of doing your job well, but what if in the new year you try to complete tasks early? This initiative is sure to get noticed among colleagues and supervisors. While not always possible, plan ahead and meet goals early in the new year for a big career boost.

10. Praise others
From the over-achieving intern to the sales lead who just closed a killer deal, make it your goal to praise others more often while at work. This will help bring you closer to your colleagues, increase collaboration and get you more respect. Plus, a positive attitude is contagious, so you may just find your work atmosphere a bit happier in the new year; you’ll be the one leading the way.

December 23, 2014 / Molly Moseley

Precation: Will this awesome new benefit be on the rise in 2015?

shutterstock_69214975Imagine receiving a job offer for a new position at a company, but there is one stipulation you must meet before starting: take a two-week paid vacation. Say, what?

Yes, precations are a growing requirement at companies across the country, and some argue this requirement benefits the new employee and company alike. You may have never heard of it before, but I bet if you were offered a precation, it certainly would catch your attention.

Innovative companies and those in highly competitive industries are pushing the boundaries beyond traditional benefits into new and often unexpected places in order to lure top talent and build a strong reputation. A precation is an example of what is coming out of this movement, and we all might be hearing more about it in the new year.

Why would a company want to offer a paid vacation prior to an employee’s start date? Traditional belief is that PTO is a reward for those who work hard, providing them with time off to do what they love. And these new employees haven’t even logged an hour yet!

The reality is that Americans work more than anyone else in the industrialized world, according to ABC News. That means longer work days, fewer vacations and, often, delayed retirement. All this work can cause extreme burn-out and dissatisfaction, both of which are reasons an employee would seek new employment. That’s a great opportunity for a new employer to scoop up valuable talent, but who wants someone starting who is already burning the candle at both ends? Instead, you want someone who is energized, passionate and ready to go, and a precation is the perfect way to prepare employees to start a new job on the right foot.

Think about it: in highly competitive fields, employees often skip vacation in order to stand out or simply keep up with day-to-day demands. In fact, Americans in general are skipping valuable PTO at alarming rates! A traveleffect.com survey found that despite 96 percent of people recognizing the importance of using PTO, a shocking 41 percent of American workers do not plan to use all their paid time off in 2014, even though it is part of their compensation.

We’re skipping our vacations and time with family to work, and it’s causing extreme stress. A precation is the perfect solution and ideal way to lure talent at what typically isn’t an overwhelming cost to a company’s bottom line. Some believe the investment early on pays dividends in increased productivity and employee loyalty down the road.

What are your thoughts on the growing availability of a precation benefit? What other innovative benefits have you heard companies offer in order to lure talent and position them for success? Please leave your answers in the comments section.

December 17, 2014 / Stephanie Anderson

Holiday survival guide: Secret Santa edition

The holidays are typically a welcome time of year at any office. The hustle and bustle of closing up Q4 paired with tree decorating, holiday parties and other breaks from the norm can all combine to help people bond and get to know each other outside of the day-to-day routine. In fact, you may be feeling as jolly as Old Saint Nick himself with all the good cheer in the air… until you realize that your workplace does an office Secret Santa exchange.

If you’ve never participated in one before, the program works when each person in a group is randomly assigned to shop for another person anonymously. You might be tempted to opt out of such a program, but you don’t want to come off as the office Scrooge. Why not say yes and read on to learn what you can expect?

Rule 1. Be thoughtful
Don’t take yourself too seriously when figuring out what to get for your Secret Santa, but do give something you genuinely think the other person would like. If you’re assigned to shop for your best bud at work, you can probably get something you’ll both find funny. If you’re assigned someone you really don’t know well, ask around to learn what she might like or get something that is broadly appealing. Avoid anything that might be misinterpreted or thought to be in poor taste!

Rule 2. Know and respect the budget
This is not the time to show off by spending more than necessary. The budget is there so that everyone is on an equal playing field. Be mindful by not going over the maximum amount. The Secret Santa program is about others, after all. Spending more will most certainly backfire.

Rule 3. Get creative with gifts
There are a lot of unique and appealing ideas for Secret Santa gifts. Check out a few of our favorites:

$5 and under
Five bucks doesn’t go far, so you really have to maximize your dollar. Homemade gifts are great for this amount, so whip up your famous fudge or tie a ribbon around that jam you recently jarred.

If you’re not so much the “homemade” type, here are a few fun ideas that are sure to bring a smile for $5 or less:

Note: A quick trip to your local dollar store can also provide plenty of inspiration for affordable gifts that will make a big impression.

$10 and under
Gift cards rule the $10 and under category. Think about getting a certificate from local haunts, like that independent coffee shop down the road or your co-workers’ favorite happy-hour spot. But don’t just go generic and leave the gift card in an envelope; jazz it up with a little something extra like a piece of candy, a sprig of evergreen or a holiday-scented candle.

$20 and under
A fail-safe gift for the $20 and under category is a fun new mug paired with bag of coffee beans or some tea. The mug could be holiday themed, feature something you know the recipient would enjoy (cat or dog lover?), or say something comical, like this one that cleverly references the movie “Office Space.”

Books are another option if you know what the recipient would enjoy. When in doubt, cookbooks or cocktail guides can be a festive option for the Secret Santa game. We enjoy these options:

For those of you who have done Secret Santa in the past, what was the best gift you received? Please leave your answer in the comments section.

December 10, 2014 / Molly Moseley

10 hot industries positioned to hire in 2015

The new year is just weeks away. As we look ahead to 2015, many industries have a positive outlook toward growth and hiring. Here are 10 hot industries positioned to hire exponentially in the next 12 months:

1. Health care
The health-care industry continues to grow, and many areas have a hiring demand that surpasses the available qualified talent. Thanks to an aging boomer population and a variety of governmental regulations aimed at the industry, this growth won’t slow down any time soon. A few particularly hot health-care jobs include registered nurse, physical therapist and health services manager.

2. Manufacturing
A sure sign of a recovering economy, manufacturing as a whole is growing and the demand for qualified workers is high. From line workers and machinists to experienced managers and executives with extensive knowledge of supply-chain management, look for further manufacturing growth in 2015.

3. Digital marketing
Marketing as a whole is evolving and those with digital experience are often courted by multiple companies. Typically demand for executive positions like chief marketing officer and chief digital officer far outpaces the available talent. Skilled marketing professionals have experience in data analytics, mobile platform development and strategic digital outreach.

4. Mobile technology development
As more people rely on mobile to run their daily lives, tech developers with specialty skills are in high demand. Growth in 2015 is likely, particularly for developers with expertise in the Java programming language. Because Android phones rule the majority of the smartphone market, Android developers are in demand as well.

5. Cyber security
Major online security breaches make headlines each year, and due to the growth of the cloud and the public’s growing reliance on e-commerce, many businesses are investing in better cyber security. This means they will be hiring smart people who can ensure the customers’ and business’s information stays safe. Those with experience in information security and digital risk won’t wait long for a new job offer.

6. Human resources
As the unemployment rate goes down and industries across the board grow and regain hiring power, human resources becomes a particularly critical function of a business. Skills in talent acquisition and global HR management are sure to get noticed on resumes.

7. Finance and insurance
Confidence in the financial and insurance industries is growing. Professionals who can offer expert insight in the financial sector will see increased demand for their skills. Insurance specialists are also deemed valuable and will enjoy increased hiring in 2015.

8. Government
Just a few years ago many governmental entities were making cuts in order to adhere to budget restrictions. Today, many areas of government are enjoying an improved outlook, which means anticipated hiring in 2015. Government is an area that might be particularly well-suited for entry-level positions, so recent college graduates should take note.

9. Nonprofits
Just like governmental entities, the sluggish economy did no favors for the nonprofit sector. Donations were down, positions reduced and some nonprofits didn’t survive. Today, a growing economy means nonprofits are once again thriving and they need to hire experts to help with growth, donor relations and event planning, in addition to driving social change.

10. Retail
The majority of retailers are entering 2015 with an optimistic attitude, and so they need skilled help to ensure numbers stay in the black. Look for hiring to run the gamut from reliable team members on the floor to effective sales managers. As earnings grow, hiring will drive an overall industry boost.

December 3, 2014 / Toby Dayton

“The Economy, Stupid” – James Carville (1992)

In 1992, James Carville hung a sign in Bill Clinton’s campaign headquarters in Little Rock with the 3 key messages for the campaign. Those messages were:

1) Change vs. more of the same

2) The economy, stupid

3) Don’t forget about healthcare

Of those, the second became the defining theme of Clinton’s campaign and the relentless focus on the state of the economy under Bush helped Clinton win the White House that year. Carville’s mantra highlights one of the great truisms not only of American politics, but the American psyche itself. As goes the economy, so goes the general mood of the country, and understandably so.

But as recent evidence indicates, the most critical aspect of the economy as the driver of the American state of mind is jobs. It’s not GDP growth rates, corporate earnings, or the stock market, although each of those undoubtedly plays both a unique and interrelated role, but jobs. And right behind jobs is rising wages. There has been no greater contributor to the growing indignation afflicting the entire nation these days than the epic job losses during the Great Recession, declining household income over the past 15 years, and stagnant real wages for the past 30 years.

And while all of that seems patently obvious to some, it is truly amazing how little real attention Washington is paying to what has become, arguably, the defining characteristic of America over the past few decades. And as much as America’s indignation occasionally transforms into anger and outright hostility, it is equally as amazing how little sustained outrage there is given the severe and rising inequality in the U.S. and the grim economic circumstances facing a growing percentage of the country.

To be sure, the slowly improving labor market which has seen a net gain of nearly 2.3 million jobs so far this year has most certainly helped lessen the severity of the situation, but there is still much to concerned about, and no one should be celebrating quite yet. A disproportionate share of the job gains this year have been part-time and/or low-wage jobs, and until very recently, the decline in unemployment has occurred mostly because so many people had given up looking for work. Those factors have started to change for the better in recent months as the jobs recovery has picked up momentum, but wages still haven’t budged and that statistic has, of late, become the most closely watched labor market indicator among economists, particularly at the Fed.

But debates around the Beveridge Curve notwithstanding, what will drive continued momentum in the labor market, as evidenced by continued net job gains and eventually rising wages, is sustained labor demand. And how we evaluate labor demand at LinkUp is by looking at the nearly 3 million job openings in our search engine, all of which are published by companies on their own corporate websites (which means our highly unique data set eliminates old jobs, duplicate listings, scams, resume fishing, fraud, and other types of job pollution). And unfortunately, our data for November does not present a positive picture.

In November, there were 175,000 fewer new job listings on corporate websites throughout the country than there were in October, a sharp decline of 23%. Total job listings fell 6% from October, dropped by almost 120,000 from the prior month. Of course there is some seasonality in the data which we purposely do not remove, but even accounting for that, the employment situation appears to be getting a bit grim as we look ahead to December. What is particularly discouraging is that new and total job listings declined in every single state in the U.S.

Jobs By State November 2014

In looking at new and total job growth by category, the picture is equally as bleak, with new and total job openings declining by 22% and 6% respectively.

Jobs By Category November 2014

It is in this table that we can see, at least partially, the seasonality in our data with new retail job openings decreasing by 30,000 from their peak in October and total job listings dropping by 26,000. Undoubtedly, there are other seasonal jobs mixed throughout other categories such as Supply Chain & Logistics, Hospitality & Travel, and Restaurant & Food Service, but the bulk of the seasonality factor is contained in the retail category and even factoring in the declines in that category, the November numbers are still horrible.

With the sharp decline in new and total job openings in our job search engine (which lists roughly 2.6 million job openings from 50,000 company websites across the country), our preliminary forecast for December’s jobs report (which will be released on January 9th) is a net gain of only 85,000 jobs. For our November forecast, we have to look back to our October data which showed a minuscule 0.5% increase in the blended average of new and total job openings on LinkUp that month. Based on that data, we are forecasting a net gain of 235,000 jobs for the November NFP number that will be released this Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

November 2014 Jobs Forecast

One last data point worth highlighting comes from our jobs duration report. Each month, we look at the all the jobs that companies removed from their corporate websites over the previous 6 months, presumably because were filled with a new hire, and calculate the average number of days that those jobs had been on the company’s corporate website.

Job Duration Through November 2014

Between April and October, that number had steadily declined from 51 days in April to 41 days in October which matches the increased traction in the labor market during that period. Unfortunately, that number jumped up to almost 44 days in November, further indicating a slow-down in hiring. That slow-down couldn’t be more evident when one looks at the monthly change in new and total job openings on LinkUp over the course of the year.

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 9.26.32 AM

The average monthly increase in new and total job openings so far this year has been 4% and 3% respectively, but the trend line most definitely provides some cause for concern. We are definitely in for some turbulence ahead, and I wouldn’t be too quick to predict an imminent increase in wages or an accelerated timetable for a raise in rates by Janet Yellen. While we’ll certainly celebrate the 10th straight month of a 200,000+ jobs number on Friday, we expect that streak to come to an abrupt end in December.

If that makes you a bit depressed, cheer up with a clip of Bill Hader’s James Carville on Weekend Update.

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 9.44.34 AM

December 2, 2014 / Stephanie Anderson

Job search autopilot: How your lazy job search is hurting you

You think you’re doing everything right. You’ve spruced up your resume, you’ve set job alerts and you’ve applied online to as many applicable positions as you can. So why does it seem like it’s taking forever to see any interest?

If your job prospects seem depressingly low despite your frequent activity, it can be easy to blame a recovering economy, fierce competition or simply poor timing. But it might not be that simple. The problem could actually be you!

So many job hunters think they are doing everything in their power to find a job, but in reality, they are actually quite lazy. I’m not saying this applies to everyone and I’m surely not calling people names; it’s human nature to try to get something with as little effort as possible. But when job searching, minimal effort is often not enough.

Sure job alerts are a great start. You get automatic emails sent when a job matches your defined criteria and then you can click to apply within minutes online. It’s likely that hundreds, if not thousands, of people are doing the exact same thing. So how are you standing out from the crowd?

Job hunting is a job in itself, and unfortunately it takes a lot of time and effort. It must be done routinely. Yet many people aren’t taking the important job-searching steps regularly, let alone on a daily basis.

In fact, on an average day an unemployed American is more likely to go shopping than to look for a job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Only 18.9 percent spend time doing job-hunting activities each day, while 40.8 percent shop either in a store, by telephone or on the Internet!

The truth of the matter is that a job search isn’t a “set it and forget it” undertaking. Your dream job will not come find you; you must find it, and most likely that process will take a lot of organization and effort. Yes, automate as much of your search as possible, apply online and set job alerts, but you need to take additional steps to rise above the competition.

First, you need to network. As they say, it’s not always what you know, but who you know. Be active on LinkedIn, join industry organizations, and reach out to past colleagues and professors. You may be surprised by who knows who and how each person can assist you in finding a new job. Be sure to be specific when asking your contacts for assistance. Make it easy for them to help you by requesting a referral on a particular position, or to connect you to a specific person. A blanket “will you help me find a job” is lazy and will not be fruitful.

Second, stop sending the same resume to every job for which you apply. It’s never a “one-size-fits-all” situation and recruiters can tell immediately if you’re not customizing your resume for a specific position or company. It doesn’t take long to update a resume for the specific job you are applying for when you make use of targeted keywords and company lingo. It’s definitely worth the effort!

Third, make your cover letter count. Some people argue that the cover letter doesn’t matter, but is submitting a haphazard cover letter for a job you really want a risk you should take? No! Remember, this is your first impression, so don’t make it a lazy one. The cover letter should demonstrate your enthusiasm for the job, your genuine interest in the company and your passion for your career.

In reality, if broken up into daily tasks, job hunting the right way doesn’t have to be very time consuming. It must be done every day, though, and you must be proactive and take the time to do each step correctly. Then and only then will you find a job more quickly than some of the lazier candidates who are still wondering why they are sitting at home waiting.

December 1, 2014 / Molly Moseley

Purple squirrel hunting: tips for finding the perfect candidate

ThinkingPurpleSquirreinCircle320x300A purple squirrel is an elusive job candidate with the exact skills, experience, education and training required for your toughest to fill position. Some would argue they also ride unicorns, save babies from burning buildings and can double your revenue with a single click. Ok, not really, but it is a common recruiting industry term used to refer to the perfect candidate.

The existence of the purple squirrel is often argued, and perfect is a strong word, but I am certain those candidates who offer the most, are the hardest to recruit and hire. That’s because they are not only perfect to you, they are perfect to your competitors as well. Well have no fear, we’ve come up with some quick and easy tips to hunt and catch your very own purple squirrel:

1. Get their attention: You need to stand out against the crowd of recruiters also looking to hire your purple squirrel, so get creative. Consider gamification, sponsor a contest, utilize creative marketing techniques where your purple squirrel is likely to work or play, or consider non-traditional recruiting media, like a fun video or a “jobcast.” Need some ideas? Check out these creative strategies.

2. Court them: When you have identified your purple squirrel target, approach the recruiting relationship like dating. Purple squirrels are often passive candidates, who are in high demand. By connecting with them across channels and consistently engaging them, you can prove your interest and establish a relationship. Utilize sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to dialogue with the candidate on topics of interest and comment on the quality of their work.

3. Sell the work: Once you’ve got their attention and have established a relationship, it’s time sell the job. Purple squirrels are passionate about their work, and they are incredibly good at it. Communicate and highlight the aspects of the job (and company) that will best stimulate their intellectual curiosity and get them excited. Consider personalizing the job where appropriate, or allow them to choose their projects.

4. Move quickly: Purple squirrels are often passive and are not actively looking for a new job, so make the interview and application process as simple and quick as possible to avoid losing their interest. Don’t force them to complete complex and time consuming assessments when you know their qualified, or go through 10 rounds of interviews. Streamline the process to assess to only what is absolutely necessary, and omit what is not.

5. Wow them: Make them an offer they can’t refuse. Utilize bonuses, benefits and extras to prove you want them and let them know they will be well compensated for their work. If they are a true purple squirrel, make sure you offer them the salary they deserve, strong enough that it doesn’t require them to negotiate. As an added touch, have your CEO deliver the offer to commute that excitement for the candidate goes all the way to the top.

6. Use the right team: Make sure you are using the right team and resources to attract, engage, and hire your purple squirrel. Leverage people across your organization, as well as partners, like LinkUp’s recruitment advertising team, to ensure you are setting yourself up for success.