Skills Gap

A recent survey from the American Staffing Association Workforce Monitor, conducted online by Harris Poll, indicated that fifty percent of Americans have not heard of the “skills gap”.  However, once the term was defined, twenty-eight percent of the respondents stated they knew someone who had been affected by the skills gap.  Fourteen percent said they had personally been affected.

The ASA president stated that “The gap between workers’ skills and those needed by employers is a key reason millions of individuals are unemployed despite millions of open jobs.”

Three out of four Americans surveyed stated that technology outpacing workers’ knowledge is a factor at least moderately responsible for causing the skills gap.

The workplace environment has changed rapidly and survey participants stated:

  • Few job openings exist for the skills they possess (44%)
  • They don’t have the right skills for a desired job (34%)
  • They had to get additional training to keep or get a job (25%)

What can employers do?

  • Provide training and tutoring opportunities to improve or learn needed skills for both current employees and new hires.
  • Examine job descriptions to see if all skill requirements are truly required…or would some just be a nice added skill. Adjust requirements accordingly.
  • Hire candidates with potential even if experience and skills are lacking. Provide opportunities for employees to learn new skills, new trades or new technologies.

What can prospective and/or current employees do?

  • Embrace opportunities to grow new skills, to improve current skills and to stay current with new technologies.
  • Emphasize during job interviews or performance reviews your interests and potential to learn the needed skills. Sometimes, hobbies and general interest have provided you with a basis from which to grow into a new profession!
  • Remember that soft skills are important; emphasize your soft skills and how they have prepared you for a new career or new skill opportunity.

Accept the fact that it may be time for an industry or career change.  Prepare through appropriate training, schooling or internships.  Be willing to accept a lower starting point in order to learn a new industry or a new job!

Julie Aguilar


Rejoin the Workforce!

For those of you who retired early and now think you may want to return to the workforce on a part time, full time or temporary basis, this is your time! Opportunities are definitely available. Clerical skills and labor skills are both in demand. Tasting rooms are another popular part time option.

There are many reasons to return to the workforce after a year or two of enjoying the freedom of retirement. You may be bored and want to stay busy. You may want to stay involved in the workforce because you enjoy the environment, but prefer a less demanding position than the one you previously held. You may want to maintain your computer skills or learn more about social media. You may want to save money for the “big” trip you always wanted to take. You may want to have extra money for eating out or you may need extra money to maintain your lifestyle or to pay for some unexpected expenses.

Any of the above are valid reasons to return to work for either a short time temporary assignment or a longer term opportunity. If interested, give us a call and we will be happy to talk with you about the possibilities!

Julia Aguilar


Mother’s Handshake Lesson

As Mother’s Day approaches, I am again reminded of how far ahead of the times my mother was when she taught me how to properly shake hands so many years ago.  Through the years, I have met females of all ages who are unsure how to shake hands.  Some don’t offer a hand, some have a half handshake, some have a weak handshake.  The ones who stand out are the ones who have a strong, firm handshake!  For me, it can make the difference in whether or not I hire someone for our staff.

I have demonstrated handshakes to many women through the years.  This has included aspiring politicians, job seekers, employees, relatives and daughters of friends.

I recently met the college-aged daughter of my son’s landlord.  I immediately said, “Great handshake!”  The smile on her face and her mother’s face told the story:  Her mother had indeed taught her how to shake hands.  Of course, I shared the story with them of my mother teaching me to shake hands before I left for college so many years ago.

As Mother’s Day approaches, take time to shake hands with your daughters and their friends.  Take time to teach them the important skill of a firm handshake.  It will pay dividends both personally and professionally for many years.  It will also give your daughters a story to tell about their mother, particularly on Mother’s Day!  Happy Mother’s Day!

Julia Aguilar

 


Considerations for Your Social Media Accounts When Job Hunting

It’s definitely a “whole new world out there” when job searching due to public and private social media accounts and other technical options.

Consider the following recommendations:

Select an email address just for your job search. Be sure it is a professional email address…not a cute one with hugs or kisses, a reference to materialism (i.e. diamondjane@……) or a personality flaw announcement (i.e.meankaren@……).

Avoid posting photos on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn that will present a more casual or a more personal look than you want as your professional image.

Be careful what you “like” on Facebook. You could lose a job opportunity (even the opportunity to interview for the job) with a “like” for a controversial project or event.

Be equally careful what you post on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other social media platforms. Policies and laws remain unclear regarding what may be searched and/or considered from an applicant or an employee’s social media accounts.

Select settings that will block views of information that could potentially impact your career, including political views. You want it to be your choice if you decide not to work for a certain company or industry rather than having a prospective employer “x” you because of a posting.

These guidelines will help protect your privacy and may help you to find just the right job!

Julia Aguilar


Key Reasons Clients Choose to Work With Staffing Companies

Some companies, particularly smaller companies, work with staffing firms on the majority of their job openings. Others contact staffing firms only after not finding the right candidate through their own recruitment efforts.  And, of course, many use staffing firms for temporary replacements and special projects.

A report shared by the American Staffing Association provided the following reasons for working with staffing firms. Some respondents selected several reasons thus the well above 100% number.

47%        Opportunity to gauge the fit before making a regular or long-term hire

41%        Gain access to more candidates

38%       Ability to fill positions quickly

32%       Flexibility to easily change size of workforce based on project load

26%       Access to talent with specialized skills

The flexibility provided by working with a staffing firm can save time and money for businesses whether for regular long-term employees, temporary needs for special projects or particularly heavy workloads, or for short-term replacements to cover vacations or various leaves.

Julie Aguilar


Outstanding Time to Rejoin the Workforce

Recent research commissioned by the American Staffing Association found that unemployed adults in the U.S. identified lack of experience as the main obstacle that prevents them from finding a job. Other obstacles identified were: gaps in work history, lack of education, lack of available jobs in their area and being too old. With the current need for employees from entry level to highly skilled, the listed obstacles can often be overcome.

Consider accepting a temporary position. Temporary jobs are a wonderful way to learn about a company, to improve work and communication skills and to gain needed experience.

Educational and training opportunities are often available online, through community resources and on-the-job. If you don’t have your high school diploma, consider taking a GED course. For skills improvement, try online programs or visit America’s Job Center for advice.

Gaps in employment are best honestly explained. Staying home to care for a child, parent or other family member is not an obstacle. Returning to work after several years of retirement is not an obstacle.

Age is definitely not an obstacle for most positions. Many people are working well past retirement ages of the past. Some work because they need to supplement retirement income; others work because they continue to enjoy being productive in the workplace.

The obstacles identified in the research can often be overcome. It’s time to rejoin the workforce!

Julia S. Aguilar


Glossophobia — Fear of Public Speaking

Glossophobia is the fancy word for fear of public speaking. Research indicates that approximately 75% of the population has a certain amount of fear of public speaking.   One survey indicated that men are less fearful than women with 37% of men and 44% of women stating they are fearful in front of an audience.  Other surveys indicate that men and women are equally fearful.  Extroverts often share the same fear of public speaking as introverts.

Way too many professionals that I have worked with through the years have let this fear damage their careers or certainly limit their opportunities. Early in my career, I realized that I had to overcome my fear of speaking before a group if I wanted to reach my career potential.  Following graduate school, I took a position training social workers.  When you teach classes, there is certainly no way to avoid public speaking.  It was one of my smartest career decisions.  As you successfully “face your fears” and present information to groups of co-workers, you become more confident in your speaking abilities.

People often say, “I’m fine talking to small groups, but not large groups.” Talking in small groups is a good way to build up to speaking to larger groups.  Start by asking or answering questions in small office meetings and in social settings.  Whether talking to a small group or a large group, keep your tone and message conversational.  Don’t be afraid to tell the group, “I don’t know the answer, but I will research your question and respond back to you.”  Email sure makes this easier than it was 20 years ago!

Know what you are talking about. I once had to present a method for budgeting services that I knew “didn’t make sense”.  I truthfully got laryngitis and couldn’t speak!  That’s not a recommended solution.  Rather, be sure you understand and agree with the material you are presenting.

Share your own relevant experiences with the group you are speaking to. Personal stories help you relax and help the audience to be more accepting of your messages.  Don’t forget to laugh at yourself as you share your stories.

Visualization does not work for me, but I do find it helpful to identify a few friendly faces that you can concentrate on making eye contact with.

Practice, practice, practice prior to speaking. Stand in front of a large mirror and look into it as you practice.  Time your speech, including allowing time for questions if appropriate.  Practice answers to questions that may be asked including the uncomfortable ones.  It’s a good idea to have notes with a few key points written down just in case your fear becomes overwhelming.  Having written notes makes it far less likely that you will actually need to use them!  It’s  fine to have a shorter than scheduled speech.  It’s not okay to run over a scheduled speech time.

My decision to force myself to overcome my fear of public speaking paid great dividends throughout my career as it has provided me a “go to job” as a trainer several times when I wanted to change positions and it has made me an “almost fearless” speaker!

Julia Aguilar


Time to Consider Reentry, Moving Up and Training

 

A survey recently conducted by the American Staffing Association showed that 40% of unemployed U.S. adults (excluding retirees) are currently seeking work and 72% of those are confident that they will find a job within the next year. With the current low unemployment rate in our area, the opportunities of unemployed individuals with good skills finding positions are indeed excellent.  The improved job market is also a good time for those under employed to explore job opportunities both in their current field and in other fields.
The ASA survey showed that 73% of the unemployed not currently seeking employment would be willing to work in a new field if training were provided.  Those considering reentering employment should consider training opportunities available online, at local colleges, at local providers such as America’s Job Center and at local businesses.  Employers are increasingly willing to provide on-the-job training for entry level positions.  Entry level positions frequently have the potential for promotions once skills are learned and demonstrated through work performance.  It is a wise idea for those new to the job market as well as those considering reentering the workforce (whether unemployed or retired) to consider new fields.  Second and third careers can be extremely rewarding!  With the current low unemployment rate and numerous employers seeking to hire, this is an excellent time to consider your options.

Julia S. Aguilar


Holiday Season is the Perfect Time to Apply for Jobs

Many people seeking employment or considering making a job change decide to wait until “after the holidays” to apply. The truth is there are significant advantages to applying during the holidays:
1. Jobs listed on Job Boards or websites during the holidays are jobs that must be filled. Jobs that “can wait” or are budgeted to begin in the new year are often not listed until after the first week of January.
2. There are fewer applicants during the holidays so Human Resources, recruiters and others hiring authorities have more time to consider the applications that are submitted. Candidates who are solid, but do not meet all desired hiring criteria may well be called for an interview during this time of slower hiring.  During the interview process, you will have an opportunity to let the prospective employer know why you would be the right person for the job opening.

If you are seeking a job or thinking of changing positions, don’t wait until mid-January.  Take time to check out job boards during the next few weeks.  If you see a position of interest, apply for it!  You may secure the position you are seeking now rather than after the first of the year.  That could very well make for a very Happy New Year!

Julia Aguilar


Resumes in Today’s Recruitment World

The majority of resumes submitted today are sent electronically either directly to company websites or posted to job boards and recruitment websites. Since staffing companies and recruiters receive hundreds of solicited and unsolicited resumes, it’s important to make yours one that will be selected for follow-up.

Steps to consider in preparing your resume include:

  • Keep it short and simple! It is not necessary to include your job objective on your resume, particularly if you include a brief cover letter or are applying for a specific position. Brief descriptions of key responsibilities from prior jobs are helpful; detailed job descriptions are not. One page resumes are preferable.
  • Apply keywords. Applicant-tracking systems scan resumes for keywords that match the company’s job descriptions. Scanners are limited in the number of words it reads. Therefore, it is preferable to use nouns instead of verbs: For example, “sales representative” is preferable to “generated sales” or “marketing assistant” is preferable to “prepared marketing materials”. Avoid abbreviations whenever possible. This includes using “bachelor of science” in lieu of B.S.
  • Use 1 to 1.5 inch margins on both sides.
  • Align all text to the left.
  • Use easy to scan, easy to read sansserif type font. Courier, Arial, Times Roman, Helvetica all are appropriate. Use a 12-point font as anything smaller does not scan well.
  • Introduce major sections of your resume with words in all uppercase letters. This typically works better than underlining or italics.
  • Limit listing of volunteer activities/ hobbies/interests to those that could potentially be related to the position for which you are applying. An exception may be made for those with limited work experience.
  • Do include relevant professional awards. Recent graduates may also include scholastic awards.
  • Do not include your picture.
  • After completing your resume, preview it to make sure it appears as you planned. Delete any out-of-place characters or indentions. Check and double-check spelling and word usage. Spellcheck does not always catch incorrect word usage.
  • Check your resume by e-mailing it to yourself or a friend at a different e-mail address to make sure it’s perfect. It’s recommended that you e-mail it to a “check” e-mail address using a different Internet Service Provider.

Julia Aguilar