H1-B Troubles and the Struggle to Attract Local Candidates

Where will your next great hire come from?
Global Talent Pool or Local Candidates?

April 2nd marked the first day the US Government would begin accepting applications for H1-B Visas. For 2019 H1-B hopefuls, the good news is the United States has not lowered the cap on the number of H1-B’s it will allow. The bad news is, they’re going to be harder to get. In addition to the typical hurdles applicants face every year, this year promises to be even more challenging with intense scrutiny and an increase of application-related paperwork. Not to mention other restrictions that may or may not be on the horizon.

Employers that regularly utilize H1-B Visa holders face tough decisions

Any time a business system changes dramatically or offers so much uncertainty, as it has with the amped-up H1-B application process, it’s a good practice to have a Plan B. If you’ve previously leveraged H1-B applicants as part of your candidate pool, you may be wondering how the changes will impact your company.

Many of the effects the redesigned H1-B application process will have on US employers likely won’t be measurable for a few years.

You don’t have to wait, and frankly, you shouldn’t wait for any possible fallout. Instead, you can create a plan today to help offset any potential candidate-deficits by examining the way you source and hone local talent.

Below are some suggestions to get you started and give you a jumping off point. We’d strongly encourage you to brainstorm what might work best for your company and budget. If you decide you’d like more hands-on assistance recruiting top local candidates, you can always give us a call.

5 Tips to Increase Local Talent Engagement and Overcome Skills Gaps

  1. Leverage the top talent you already have
  2. Get more involved on a local level
  3. Expand your search to a regional level and promote the location
  4. Close skill gaps with onboarding programs and training opportunities
  5. Tap into your network

Leverage the top talent you already have

It’s no secret that people tend to hang out with their intellectual equals. We like people who are like us. This can work to your advantage. Take stock of the top talent you already have. Let them know of the positions you’re trying to fill and ask them if they know of any potential candidates. You might even consider creating a referral program that gives employees more incentive to connect you with the top talent they know (usually contingent on hiring).

Get more involved on a local level

Too many firms opt-out of community engagement. Chances are, you can do more. Ask your network what they do locally or connect with your city government and find out what they need.

Most of the time there are a variety of ways to get involved from sponsorships and promotion of local events to hands-on volunteer work. All of them are worthwhile, and all of them will put you in front of more local candidates than you’re getting in front of now. Don’t forget, word of mouth is some of the best marketing you can get.

Expand your search to a regional level and promote the location

You might be surprised to find out how many people want to live where your company is located. Expanding your active search to a regional level will expand your candidate pool and could help you find the ideal candidate who may have missed your open position if it wasn’t advertised to them directly.

For regional candidates, it’s good practice to include all the information you can about the open positions and company and also add in soft details like community features, cost of living, and things to do. The idea is to get them thinking about how they could work and live where you are.

Close skill gaps with onboarding programs and training opportunities

Redesigning onboarding and internal training opportunities can seem overwhelming. But the rewards are sweet. You might not have control over the world around you, but you can control what goes on inside your company, and that’s where training comes in.

The likelihood that even your top candidate knows everything you need them to know is slim. The right combination of onboarding and training can get them (and your other employees) where you need them to be faster and more consistently. Plus, you’ll be able to track and measure the outcomes because you’re in control.

This is more than a response to potential H1-B Visa restrictions; it’s a long-term solution to the skills gap affecting your entire talent pool.

Tap into your network

Think of anyone and everyone you know. What kind of connections do you have that may lead to an untapped candidate pool? Think of the associations you belong to, industry events you attend, industry partners you’ve built relationships with. These could hold the key to your next super-star hire.

Create a system for reaching out and following up with your network contacts. Let them know more about what you do, why you’re a great company to work for, what’s happening at your company (periodically) and what kind of candidates you’re keeping an eye out for.

Want to fast-track your access to top local talent? Contact our team to find out how we can help you streamline your recruitment process and find the best of the best.

 

What You Need to Know About Job Hopping

It’s a new year, and just like every year

Looking for a new job?

, it marks a time when people start to think about change both professionally and personally. Making decisions about your life outside of work is primarily up to you, but when it comes to making decisions about your job most of us have less control. At least, within the confines of our current position. But there is one game-changing move that looms on the horizon for anyone dissatisfied with their current professional situation: job hopping.

In case you haven’t heard the term yet,“job hopping” refers to the act of moving from company to company in less time than the average tenure.

Depending who you ask or what industry you work in, you’ll get different answers on how long that actually is. In my experience, and based on the companies I work with, I would say leaving a position after less than three years – even in this job hopping economy  – can be a red flag. Though it’s all in context.

If you’ve been working for ten years and have a robust resume, leaving one position after a short tenure is probably not going to hurt you. Especially if you have a reasonable explanation. On the contrary, if you’ve been working for a total of five years and you’ve had multiple jobs already chances are someone is going to question it.

The other exception is when you have been working a series of consulting assignments recently.  Some people choose to consult, while others have been more or less forced to due to a temporary lack of full time positions in your area of expertise.  If you have been consulting for a few years, there are ways to group them to make it look more like a longer term commitment in that case.

I’m not going to chastise you if you have jumped around or if you’re thinking of doing it now. What I am going to do is try to educate you about why some people decide to leave a position before three years and how future employers may look at your work history if you job hop.

Who job hops and why do they do it?

There are a number of reasons why someone might decide to leave a position after a relatively short employment period. For example; the culture might be dissatisfying or even toxic, the opportunities for advancement or path to advance may have suddenly changed for the worse, or they may simply feel underpaid or underappreciated.

In the past five to ten years as millennials have entered the workforce, I have seen job hopping become more and more common. That’s not to say it’s a millennials-only phenomenon, all age groups participate. Though it does seem to be more accepted by millennials. And in many ways, I can’t say I blame them.

Millennials joined the workforce in a historically unique time – right as the great recession was settling in and really starting to damage our economy. Highly-qualified employees were being let go left and right. Well-paying jobs were in short supply. If you did manage to find an opening you were qualified for as a fresh-out-of-college candidate, you were facing some stiff competition from more experienced workers. And to make matters worse, job stability if you landed the position was practically non-existent. Limited advancement opportunities, stagnant wages, and virtually no feeling of job stability doesn’t create an environment of trust and loyalty.

In spite of the economic recovery, the job hopping trend hasn’t died down

But we are now ten years from the start of the recession and how you behave in the corporate world does make a difference – including your average tenure. In spite of the economy stabilizing and many industries experiencing growth, the job hopping trend hasn’t slowed down.

Thinking of job hopping? Know the risks.

No one can force you to be satisfied with a position or even a particular career. Finding the right fit is as much an art as it is a science. Beyond the daily responsibilities, salary, and vacation time is a sea of intangible benefits and drawbacks to any given job. Weighing the pros and cons of a given job isn’t usually black and white, and neither are the reasons people decide to leave.

Before you decide to leave your current position after a year or two, consider your past work history and the potential consequences of leaving so soon.  

When a prospective employer is looking over your resume, they’re looking at your credentials and education, your experience, and your job history. If they have another candidate that’s equally qualified and interviews as well as you, but you’re a job hopper and the other candidate isn’t, chances are in favor of the other candidate getting an offer. It’s just a safer bet for the company. The hiring manager knows there’s a higher likelihood they will recoup their training and onboarding costs by hiring an employee that has a track record of staying with companies longer.

Now, if you’re an exceptional candidate and you possess highly-desirable, unique or difficult to train for knowledge and experience, an employer might overlook a few instances of shorter-than-average tenure. But even the most qualified, stand-out candidate can be weighed down by a consistently short or spotty work history.

You shouldn’t rely on your outstanding qualities to outweigh the detrimental impact repeat job hopping can have on your resume.  On the flip side, having an average tenure of more than three years at each employer can be a positive differentiator.

If you’re thinking of leaving your current position, you don’t have to weigh the pros and cons alone. Our team at Coppertree Staffing can help you strategize your next career move and find the right position and company where you can truly thrive. Contact our team today to learn more; we’re here to help.  

How to Evaluate Competing Job Offers

Being a highly desirable candidate is always a good thing. And staying active in your job search and interviewing with multiple companies can yield the best chance of getting an offer. But it can also mean you find yourself in the position of receiving multiple, competing job offers at the same time.

Exciting? Of course! Nerve-wracking? You bet.

Having a decision to make is a good thing, but how do you make the right one?

No one wants to make the wrong choice and miss out on a better opportunity. As a recruiter working with skilled tech professionals, I see this scenario all the time. The key to getting it right is to make sure you weigh ALL the important aspects of every offer and potential job. Here’s a top-level overview of what you should be looking at.

When evaluating competing job offers pay attention to:

  • Salary
  • Benefits
  • Time-off & Work/Life Balance
  • Corporate Culture
  • Advancement Opportunities
  • Stability & Layoff History

Salary

Most people know to look at base salary, and they usually make it the very first thing they check out. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a crucial detail, but it’s not as high a priority as many candidates think at first look and it certainly doesn’t have to be a deal breaker.

Think of it this way… If someone offered you $100,000 a year to take a job with minimal time off, basic benefits, no chance to grow or advance, and doing something that you’re good at but don’t enjoy would you take it over a job that paid $80,000 but had outstanding benefits, generous vacation and sick time allowances, and offered lots of opportunities to advance? The choice becomes a little clearer when you look at more information.

Also, make sure to count typical bonuses, the commission structure, and the likelihood of earning them if your job makes you eligible for either.

Benefits

Ah yes, insurance and retirement plans. Two complex aspects of an employment package that can greatly influence the appeal of an otherwise mediocre job offer.

Health insurance is the elephant in the room for many of us. We know it’s important, but just like all forms of insurance, it’s one of those things that you don’t really use until you need it. But when you DO need it, the quality of your healthcare plan will make a huge difference. You may or may not be given a full insurance package with your offer. If you aren’t, you should be able to ask for it.

You should also ask for details on the monthly cost to you for a plan that is comparable to the one you currently have.  I see such a wide range of costs from employers.  A few offer a top shelf plan and pay 100% of the single employee cost or even a family plan.  Most offer a mid- to top-tier plan, but the amount that the employer covers varies widely.  The cost to you could be from $200 to $1000 per month, which makes a big difference in your net income.

Things to consider about employer-sponsored health insurance:

What is your required monthly contribution to the plan?

Who does it cover (you, you and your spouse, or you and your whole family)?

What does it cover and what doesn’t it cover?

What is the deductible?

What is the out-of-pocket maximum?

Does the company offer any assistance with deductible costs?

Retirement plans are equally abstract. These days, most companies offer a standard 401(k) savings plan, but employer matching amounts are a great way to boost your savings for retirement without taking it out of your paycheck.  Ask about the matching percentage and any criteria that the company has for eligibility.

Things to consider about employer-sponsored retirement plans:

What kind of plan is it?

What is their annual maximum contribution or match?

Do they have a history of changing the plan? For better or worse?

When will you be able to start contributing?

Work/Life Balance

Take a look at the number of paid vacation days and sick leave. Check if the paid time off is the same every year or if you earn more the longer you work there. Many companies have a graduating plan that gives senior employees more paid time off. Some companies also allow flex time and multiple schedule choices like 9-80 or 10-80 that would give you more days off each month in exchange for longer work days.

Your daily commute also has a big impact on your job satisfaction and your work/life balance.  Accepting a lower salary in exchange for a 15 minute commute (versus 90 minutes, which can be common around New York City) could be a great tradeoff for you.

Corporate Culture

How you feel about going to work is like the gas in the engine. And, sticking with the metaphor, corporate culture can determine the quality of that fuel. No one wants to say “yes” to 40+ hours per week in a toxic work environment.  Checking out sites like GlassDoor.com can he helpful, but take the reviews with a grain of salt.  Remember that disgruntled employees are much more likely to post a review than someone who is happily working at the company currently.

Pay attention to the training plan the company offers for new employees and how they onboard. If they take the time to train and properly onboard new staff, it’s a good sign. Also keep an eye out during your in-person visits to the company and observe how employees act and treat one another.

Advancement Opportunities

The ability and opportunity to advance within a company can also contribute to the overall corporate culture. Most people want room to grow and recognition for thriving and taking the initiative to go above and beyond.

If there’s no chance or limited chance for advancement, it can create an air of stagnation that drives the company culture down and increases resentment and an attitude of doing ‘just enough’.

As a go-getter, you’ll want to know you can grow with a company and be rewarded for your contributions in the future. A clear path to advancement is a good sign. Ask how long people typically stay in the position you’re being offered before they are eligible for advancement and what sort of jobs might be available to you once you’re ready to advance.

Stability & Layoff History

Lastly, even if you feel like you’ve found the perfect position don’t forget to consider the company’s reputation for stability and their layoff history. Is the turnover high for the industry average? Do they spend a lot of time and money to train people and then make a concerted effort to keep their employees happy and on board?

Long-tenured employees are a good sign. If it’s a startup, that may not be something that’s as easy to evaluate but you can consider if you’ll be working for a serial entrepreneur and how their previous ventures worked out.

This list should be seen as a solid starting point for evaluating competing job offers. There may be aspects of a position that are important to you but not mentioned above. Or you may be wondering how someone gets all the information they need to make an informed decision – not every company supplies all the details. The answer is, you work with a qualified recruiter. Someone who knows the company, knows what you’re looking for, and can help find the right match and help you evaluate multiple worthwhile offers.

If you’re a skilled IT professional looking for the next awesome job and you want to be considered by quality companies with good reputations, contact our team at Coppertree Staffing today. We have advertised and non-advertised positions with some of the best companies in the industry and chances are, we’ve got a match for you.  

Now’s the Time to Act; The Tech Industry Is Booming (And so Are the Salaries)

If you haven’t taken the market’s pulse lately, now is a good time to do it. In spite of where we were just eight years ago, it’s made huge positive gains and the tech sector, in particular, continues to thrive and outpace analyst expectations. And yet, there are simply not enough qualified applicants actively exploring the employment market to meet demand. 

There are not enough candidates in today’s market

Don’t let fear (or anything else) keep you from finding the job of your dreams

Soapbox time; I want to encourage anyone who’s been sitting on the sidelines and staying in a job that’s not the right fit or has no room for growth to consider making the leap and start actively looking. The job market has changed dramatically in the past eight years – even in the past few years – and continues to rebound steadily.

I understand that many people, including highly-qualified and well-liked employees, lost their jobs during the recession. It was the toughest employment market many of us will ever experience in our lifetime. And it can be tempting to stay put, especially if you’re someone who experienced a long period of unemployment during the downturn. However, there’s never been a better time to get out there than now.  

It’s a great time for tech candidates to test the market

Overall, tech industry salaries are booming and well-qualified candidates are receiving multiple offers. The number of qualified tech workers is expected to grow an average of 3.4% a year. Yet companies are still clamoring for top talent especially in the niche pockets of the tech world where qualified applicants and expert resources are extremely limited.

The takeaway from almost every tech employment study done this year is that salaries are climbing nationwide – not solely in larger cities like San Francisco and San Jose.

That means regardless of where you reside, chances are high that your local job market is experiencing growth too.

Most companies have fully recovered from the recession and are meeting or exceeding growth expectations. Corporations are back to striving to add services and products and increase market share instead of just maintaining the status quo. And historically, the first step to achieving corporate success is by bringing on talented and ambitious employees that share that vision. It could be you!  

Take advantage of trusted resources to streamline your job search

If you’re feeling rusty or unsure about branching out and exploring the job market, there are companies like Coppertree available and ready to help you. Not only can we connect you to opportunities that aren’t publicly advertised but we can also walk you through the local market stats and how your background and experience can benefit you.

Contact our team at Coppertree Staffing to learn more about the current market and how you can make the most of it. 

 

Why the Human Element is Essential to Recruiting

In a world where we’re continually evolving and making everything faster and more efficient, it’s easy to see why corporations might be tempted to move towards automated recruiting. But while it’s quick and often feels efficient; is it effective?

Can AI Select the Best People?

Choosing the right person for the job can save time and money in the long run. So the question becomes;  is AI (artificial intelligence) capable of selecting the best person for the job? 

Artificial Intelligence in Industry

Artificial intelligence has impacted recruiting most heavily in the candidate search, evaluation, and selection steps. Companies frequently use recruiting tools that leverage websites like Monster and Indeed. Which is why it’s often automation and not careful consideration that determines where a job listing will be posted. Subsequently, there’s an onslaught of resumes sent in – some of which are not from qualified people.

This raises the first issue and one of the reasons companies began leaning on AI in the first place – not enough manpower and too many resumes to sort through individually.

To make matters worse, some recruiting websites have partnerships with other platforms and will bulk post job listings across the internet and sometimes to questionable sites. This further increases the volume of responses and dilutes the quality of applications companies receive. Rather than scale back and create a more targeted search parameter, many companies will use AI either directly within their organization or, more commonly,  indirectly (and sometimes unknowingly) by allowing the recruiting websites to evaluate and sort resumes based on their own internal algorithms. 

AI recruiting is quantity, not quality, focused. Which only fuels the desire for more artificial intelligence to sort through the high volume of responses received. 

Keyword matching is one of the most popular mechanisms used to sort applications, and it boils down to a computer finding enough overlap between a job posting and the candidate’s response. It doesn’t take into account syntax, context or synonyms and allows borderline intelligible applications to get through while those with synonyms in place of keywords may not.

How does AI evaluate personality, drive, and intelligence? Simple. It doesn’t.  

A smart candidate may figure out how to “game” the system and get their resume in front of the right person (which is to say, an actual person). But there are plenty of smart and qualified job seekers who are exactly the type of person you’re looking for but who don’t make it a point to outsmart the recruiting algorithms. Chances are, their applications won’t make it to the top of the stack because they don’t use enough of the right “keywords”. How frustrating.

To put it into real-world context; imagine two helpdesk technicians at an investment firm in NYC. Each of them could show up very differently in a search not only because of what they emphasize about the position and their experience but also for something as simple as whether they list themselves in the IT industry or banking industry.  

Searches require iteration, adjustment, and creativity to squeeze out results – three fundamental aspects of targeted recruiting that AI struggles to overcome.

Being able to look beyond the resumes and experience of multiple qualified candidates and figure out the personality traits and the best match is a uniquely human quality. In the end, people hire people, and people they like get hired the most.

Ready to work with an experienced IT recruiter that can help you look beyond keywords and find the perfect candidate for your open positions?  Contact our team to learn more about how we can help you round out your team.

Why am I not getting any response to my resume?

Why is my resume not getting responses?

I’ve talked to a multitude of candidates about a recurring issue that seems to affect most professionals at some point in their career: the dreaded radio silence that follows after you’ve submitted your resume to a new company. Candidates ask; why is this happening? What’s wrong with me? Am I not good enough?

The truth is; you might be getting zero response to your resume for a number of very valid reasons. And it’s usually nothing personal.

As a recruiter, I work with executives eager to fill open positions in their companies every day. In my experience, three reasons come up again and again for candidates who aren’t getting any nibbles when they apply.

Three Reasons Your Resume Isn’t Getting a Response

  • You’re applying for positions outside your core competencies
  • There’s a staggering number of other candidates
  • Your resume needs some work

You’re branching out a little (or a lot) too far

There’s nothing wrong with trying to land a job that’s not quite like anything else on your resume. However, you have to accept going into it that your application will be viewed alongside those from candidates with more direct experience, and that may put you at a disadvantage.

It’s not that companies don’t give candidates who haven’t held the exact position they’re applying for a chance. It’s that you have to do a really good job of showing the recruiter how the experience you do have will translate to success in the position they’re looking to fill.

In my experience, companies are looking for good matches along the axes of experience, industry, and level. If your core competencies don’t complement the job duties, chances are you aren’t getting an interview.

You’re one of many

I know it’s tough, but put yourself in the recruiter’s position. Some jobs are more popular than others, which means many people are going to apply. And if the company is known as a great place to work, you can bet any open position is going to attract a lot of attention in the employment market.

Of course, I would encourage you to apply for the jobs you want, especially if you’re a good fit and regardless of how many applicants may be applying. Just remember that it’s common to get no response. There are a ton of people vying for an interview, and only a fraction of the applicants will get one. Try not to take it personally; sometimes recruiters can’t get back to every candidate, even the good ones.

Your resume isn’t sending the right message

Before you assume the lack of response is due to reasons #1 or #2, consider your resume.

  • Is it well written?
  • Does it flow nicely?
  • Is it easy to read and comprehend?
  • Is it easy to skim?

Be brutally honest with yourself. If your resume doesn’t read well or present you as the best candidate for the job, you aren’t going to get a call.

The good news is; your resume is something completely in your control. You can revise, tweak, and re-write it to your heart’s content. Obviously, you’re limited to the positions, education, and experience you have, but you can polish and refine all that information to present yourself in the best possible light.

If you’re not updating your resume to read well for the position you’re applying for, you’re missing a huge opportunity to stand out.

Many candidates – even top-level executives – will send a generic resume. However, marketing 101 says if you want to persuade someone to do something (like give you an interview), you have to speak in a way that appeals to them. Knowing your audience is key.

Check out the job listing and pick out keywords the company uses to describe the position and the person they’re looking for and revise your resume & cover letter using those keywords and supporting information that directly reflects how your experience and expertise will meet their needs.

Ready to find your dream job? Contact our team to learn more about open positions, what skills are in top demand, and how you can get noticed in a crowded employment marketplace.

Three Things You Should Always Include in Your Cover Letter

As a candidate in the marketplace, chances are you’ve seen or applied to job postings that require a cover letter along with your resume and other pertinent information.  Or maybe you are just trying to figure out the best way to stand out from the crowd when applying to positions.

What you might not realize is that the traditional cover letter is changing a lot – and it’s still important.  And while you may have even written a cover letter (or ten), chances are you, like many other candidates, have missed one or more of the most crucial parts of a standout cover letter.

But before we get into the top three elements you should include in your cover letters, the first thing you need to recognize about 21st-century job listings is they won’t always be formal.  And the growth of “Apply with LinkedIn” or Facebook postings means that you may have to get creative with when and where you include cover letter details.

You still need the right cover letter to stand out

For example, if you apply for a position through a platform like LinkedIn, there is usually a section for “comments.” That is the space where you must introduce yourself and include elements of your cover letter if the posting didn’t include a place to attach one.

Never, ever send your resume without an introduction. It doesn’t matter how polished the content in it is, if you don’t take the time to set the stage, your resume will be overlooked.

Now that we’ve got the disclaimers out of the way, we can jump into exploring the three crucial things you need to include in your cover letters.

The Top Three Things EVERY Cover Letter Should Include

#1 How Your Unique Experiences & Expertise Apply

It doesn’t matter if it seems crystal clear to you how your past positions have made you into the ideal candidate for an open position, you need to connect the dots for the reader. Even if you’ve had the same position with another company, think: What kind of progress and outcomes might they expect as a result of your experiences?

If you can clearly and succinctly make a case for why you’re the most qualified and well-prepared candidate in their sights, you will have a much better chance of getting an interview.

#2 Hard Numbers

It’s not enough to narrate your previous duties that make you a good fit for the position. You need to (humbly) brag a little bit. Including hard numbers in your cover letter is like creating spark notes for your resume.

What are the most impressive (and applicable) achievements in your career to date?

Did you increase your territory revenue by 30% month over month for a year? Were you able to streamline accounting processes to improve efficiency by 10%? These are the things future employers will want to know about you and what you’re going to bring to the table when you come on board.

#3 A Personal Touch

Throughout any cover letter, you should sprinkle a bit of your personal touch. Ideally, you’re going to weave a dialogue for the recruiter that allows them to get to know you a little and, hopefully, even begin to like you. One powerful technique for accomplishing this is to tell a part of your story.

What has happened to you in your life or career that set you on the path to becoming a rock star candidate?

If you’re applying to be an analyst; have you loved tackling complex calculations since college and known since then that you’d dedicate your life to helping companies unravel their greatest financial challenges? If you’re looking to lead an agricultural company’s development unit; did you grow up on a working farm and realize you have a natural talent for agriculture and land management?

Let the recruiter have a peek behind the curtain so they can see why you’re not only a qualified candidate but also the best person for the job.  In the end, people still hire people they like, so be enthusiastic and friendly!

Ready to streamline your job search? Contact our team to learn more about open positions, standing out in a sea of applicants, and finding your dream job.

Closing the Skills Gap: Addressing the Unqualified Candidate Pool

Remember the days (circa 2009) when you could publish a job opening and have dozens of qualified, hungry candidates vying for the opportunity to be interviewed?

Addressing the Skills Gap

A decade ago the employment landscape, and the economy as a whole, was completely different. Hundreds of thousands of talented professionals were thrust into the job market for one reason or another, and suddenly employers could fill positions with the best of the best. But those days are over. We’re operating in a whole new market.

On top of keeping your eyes and ears open for skilled candidates who may already be happily employed, it’s time we start thinking about what we can do to address the proverbial elephant in the room – the massive skills gap that’s holding America’s workforce back.

It’s more complicated than it seems at first glance

Are there good paying jobs available at virtually every level of the professional ladder? Absolutely. Are there qualified candidates to fill all those skilled positions? If you listen to the feedback of employers across the nation, the answer is a resounding no. And the lack of qualified candidates costs companies tens, if not hundreds, of thousands each year.

What’s creating the deficit and how can we fix it?

The same years that saw companies flush with qualified candidates combined with an aging population helped to fuel the employment market we’re struggling with now.

Employees who aged into the workforce in the last decade or found themselves thrust back into the open market have been faced with multiple challenges. They’ve been dogged by everything from fierce competition for jobs to lack of opportunity or availability of training and education. Not to mention the fear of sky-high student debt with no guarantee of employment and the increasing skill level required for many middle-class jobs.

All of these challenges and others combined to create a perfect storm; an ominous and large pool of unqualified candidates in the workforce.

It’s not that people don’t want to work. It’s that many of those who do and are still in the open market, are not qualified to take technical jobs which so desperately need to be filled. And while the qualified applicant pool dwindles, the economy continues to strengthen and the demand for a more educated workforce increases.

Potential solutions worth discussing at national and local levels

There’s no shortage of ideas for elevating the national candidate pool and increasing the qualifications of applicants within it. The struggle is in finding balance and creating an environment that supports both individuals within the workforce and employers.

If you want to continue down the rabbit hole and research this topic, I encourage you to do so, especially if your company has been personally affected. For the sake of time, I am going to focus on what our team at Coppertree sees as the most promising solutions.

How We Can Begin to Close the Skills Gap

Return vocational classes to high schools

High school is a prime opportunity to reach the younger generations and create a long-term solution that will help close the skills gap in the near future as well as prevent it from widening. Previously high schools put an emphasis on trades and technical knowledge, but due to budget cuts and shifting priorities, most have decreased, if not eliminated, their hands-on courses. Applied skills are still in demand, and revisiting our public education programs is the place to start.

Make technical post-graduation programs more widely available and accessible

Four-year schools and junior colleges are already beginning to address the growing need for technical and trades programs.  For the most part, schools in large cities have been the first to adapt. But the need must be more widely addressed.  People across the US, including less densely populated regions, need access to the same courses, whether they’re offered online or in-person.

Offset the cost of higher education with more work-study opportunities

Work study allows college & technical students to work part-time while they’re in school. While it’s not always a stand-alone solution, depending on the student’s circumstance, it’s still helpful and is part of the answer to closing the skills gap. Work study has a few advantages including providing an organic opportunity to build soft skills and allowing a student to earn while they learn, which can make college costs easier to navigate.

If more companies – particularly those in industries experiencing the sharpest decline of skilled candidates, offered work-study opportunities to students, they would give this solution even more appeal. Not only would these companies be helping the students, but they would also have access to candidates with the latest education in the field who are eager to put what they’ve learned into practice and embrace more hands-on training.

Don’t forget about soft skills

With the pressing demand for technical skills, it’s easy to overlook the importance of soft skills like professionalism, workplace communication, and tolerance. While it’s crucial that we address the glaring skills gap, we can’t forget also to train for and improve the soft skills that help candidates highlight their qualifications, communicate effectively, and contribute to a positive work environment.

Lastly, there needs to be a shift in our collective thinking. Maybe you’ve seen those Verizon commercials aimed at our youth. They center on the idea that we have made it more appealing and accessible to believe you will grow up to be an NBA superstar than to become an engineer or carpenter. Technical and trades jobs are nothing to shy away from. They may not be as glamorous as some other jobs that promise a huge starting salary, but they’re good jobs, and most can offer a comfortable living. This solution is one we can all participate in regardless of where we fall on the corporate spectrum.

Learn more about the current job market, strategies for finding the right candidates, and more on the blog.

 

5 Things to Remember After Your Interview

There’s a common theme in the recruiting process that gives job seekers cold sweats and anxiety. It’s not sending out resumes or even preparing for the interview. It’s what happens afterward.

The waiting is the hardest part…

You probably know the feeling. You’ve just had a great interview, and you’re elated. You were well prepared, and it showed. They seemed to like you and even asked key questions like “when could you start?” Everything feels like it’s going your way as you high-step back to your car and head home.  You remembered to get the hiring manager’s card when you interviewed and you sent a professional thank you note the day after the interview.  At this point, you’re certain you’re going to hear from the company very soon.

But then you don’t. Instead, uninterrupted radio silence ensues for days or weeks (sometimes longer), and you start to doubt yourself. You begin to wonder what to do next.

Don’t stress. This article is for you. Here are the four things to keep in mind next time you find yourself in interview limbo.

Five Key Things to Remember After the Interview:

  1. Whatever you do; don’t panic
  2. Be polite, enthusiastic, and positive
  3. Recognize that hiring managers are busy
  4. Keep up your job search
  5. You might be a good match, but not a perfect fit

Don’t Panic

Hiring managers can sense self-doubt and fear. Desperation is not a good negotiation tactic, and when you sound stressed or frazzled, it won’t make a good impression. Instead of panicking, remind yourself of how well the interview went and then keep your mind occupied with whatever distracts and relaxes you.  Put your energies into reinforcing that positive image you projected during the interview instead.

There is a really good chance that the delay has nothing to do with you exactly and instead is being driven by business factors and management decisions inside the company.

Stay Positive and Friendly

Remember how you felt when you had just left the interview? Channel that upbeat and positive feeling into polite, professional follow-ups. It’s ok to leave a voicemail or send an email once a week. But that’s about it. Don’t overdo it, no matter how polite or enthusiastic you are.

Use language like:

“I’m just calling to check on the status…”

“I’m still very excited about the opportunity…”

“I know you’re busy and appreciate your time…”

Don’t say things like:

“I have left several messages already…”

“I expected a decision by now…”

Recognize that Hiring is Not the Manager’s Only Job

It can feel like the only important aspect of a hiring manager’s job is to hire people (and by that, we mean immediately call and recruit top candidates), but it’s not. Hiring managers have a great many duties, and even when it comes to recruiting there are usually multiple steps.

Try to remember that your interviewer may be busy doing any number of important things like reviewing resumes, conducting interviews, and probably covering for some of the responsibilities that you are hoping to cover.  The company is probably hiring because they are short staffed in some way, so that might put a strain on everyone in the department including the manager.

Keep up with your job search and interviewing

Not only should you never put all your eggs in one basket, but there are positive psychological and functional reasons for pursuing other opportunities, even if this was your ‘dream job’.  You might find an even better job in the process, but in any case, the interviewing practice will benefit you in the long run.

If you do get another offer in the meantime, but you still prefer this first job, you might be able to TACTFULLY use it to move the process along.  Don’t ever do this if you don’t have another offer.  You can call or email the hiring manager to let them know that you are still very interested in their position, but that want to give them a heads up that you have another offer that you are considering right now.  Don’t overtly try to ‘put the squeeze on them’, but if they are interested and have the ability to move forward, this should at least restart the conversation.

You Might Not be a Perfect Fit (but You May Be Able to Overcome It)

This last one is a little tricky. It might be a case of the truth hurts, but it doesn’t have to mean the door is closed. Companies frequently hire people who are a good fit, but not quite a great fit. And why do they decide to pull the trigger? Usually, it’s because that person shows them that they are capable of filling the position and adding value to the team, even if they aren’t an ideal match.

If you find yourself in this predicament and facing objections from an employer that you really want to work for, put in a little effort.

For example, if it’s a sales job, put together a sales presentation and pitch them. Or send a technical article based on something you discussed during the interview and try to weave a friendly conversation around it (to show that you’re always learning and advancing). Or, select key points from your resume that are a perfect fit for the position and expand on them in a brief email and sell why those skills do, in fact, make you a great fit (even if they can’t see it yet). Just remember to be polite and upbeat and not argumentative.

Ready to get in front of your dream employer? Contact CopperTree Staffing to learn about open positions at exceptional companies or visit our blog to learn more about interviewing, onboarding, and job market trends.

The Unemployment Rate Continues to Drop, but You Can Still Find Great Candidates (if You Know Where to Look)

Pick the right partner in a tight job market

The U.S. Department of Labor has released another report summarizing the employment situation for March & April 2017. The overall unemployment rate continues to drop and has fallen another 0.2% to 4.5% overall.  The situation in the IT industry is even tighter – unemployment rates of 2.0% to 2.8% are the norm in major cities across the US.

While the numbers breakdown varies based on everything from gender and race to age, there’s no denying what those of us in the tech industry have been feeling for years – the pinch. The employment pool is getting tighter and tighter, and qualified candidates are getting harder to find. And it’s not because they aren’t out there. It’s because the vast majority of them are already employed.

Just Listing Jobs Won’t Cut It in This Tight Employment Market

There are a lot of ads these days for “supersites”, that promise to list your job on hundreds of web sites to expand your job’s reach.  While you might get lucky and catch that rare perfect candidate that way, you are more likely in my experience to get even more resume from candidates that are tough to employ for a reason.  They could be from outside your area looking to relocate, or have a very choppy job history or just are not a match for the job description.  Even the traditional job boards will give this result in a tight market, which results in you weeding through a lot of resumes that don’t result in a lot of good conversations.

In a tight job market, companies that have made a commitment to engaging and building relationships with top talented people in their industry will be the ones that are successful in hiring.  Rather than getting lucky with the timing of your job opening and a good candidate’s availability, they can tap a pool of qualified, employed professionals.

Some of those IT pros who already count themselves as “employed” are actively looking for opportunities to move up or change companies, and some are not. However, among the working who “aren’t looking,” there are always candidates who would be open to the right opportunity if it came their way. And, of course, if it came from a trusted source.

When you consider those three groups – the unemployed, the employed and looking, and the happily employed but open, you have a much larger candidate pool to work with.

Working with an Experienced IT Recruiter Makes All the Difference

If you’ve never worked with a recruiter, you may be shaking your head in exasperation wondering why we’d even count employed IT talent when they aren’t all on the market or even thinking about a new position. And the answer is: because they aren’t on the market yet.

Recruiting consultants can be the difference between waiting half a year or more to fill an open position and waiting for only a handful of months (or even less).

As IT recruiters, we are privileged to work with some of the most qualified, talented, and hardworking IT professionals in the field.  We spend a lot of our time talking to candidates before they are looking for new jobs so that we can be that trusted source to introduce them to a great opportunity.  Some of them are actively looking for a new position, but many are not. Nevertheless, almost all are open to making a change, and they rely on us to keep them informed of potential opportunities.

With unemployment in the IT sector continuing to drop, there’s no better time than now to partner with experienced tech recruiters to help you identify and attract the right people to fill your position and complement your company culture.  If you have not been able to commit the time and resources to building that network ahead of time, it is even more important to partner with an experienced recruiter to find that top talent.

Contact CopperTree Staffing today and let us help you find the perfect candidate.