Tremendous Increase in Number of Employees 55+

The Department of Labor recently published a blog on the aging labor force. The blog started with this fact:

“Our workforce is aging. By 2024, nearly 1 in 4 people in the labor force are projected to be age 55 or older.”

In 1994, 11.9% of the labor force was 55 or older.  In 2004, the percentage had grown to 15.6%. In 2014, the percentage reached 21.7%. By 2024, the percentage is expected to be 24.8%. That’s quite a trend!

Reasons include:

Many of those 55 or older are healthy and active with long-life expectancies. More income is needed to maintain healthy, enjoyable lifestyles.

Changes in pension plan offerings has taken away the guarantee of traditional pensions. In 2015, defined benefit pension plans were offered by only 8 percent of private industry establishments.   Defined contribution plans, such as 401(k) plans, were offered by 47 percent of private industry establishments.  However, voluntary contribution plans are dependent upon the amount that workers choose to invest and how the funds perform.  There is uncertainty of earnings as opposed to the defined benefit pension plans which provide lifetime periodic payments to the retiree.

Many of those 55+ enjoy being a part of the workforce whether in their traditional industry or in something completely different. In addition to extra income, remaining in the workforce allows individuals to maintain or increase skills levels, to stay “on top” of technological changes and to enjoy the camaraderie of co-workers.

In our staffing company, we encourage retirees to return to the workforce on a temporary, part-time or full-time basis. Temporary or contract assignments provide the flexibility of time off for travel, hobbies and other commitments.  Part-time provides “just enough” work to stay involved without the heavy commitment of a full-time career.  Full-time is an option for those who want to continue to build their savings or who just want to “not retire”.

The number of people 55 and over remaining in the workforce is a trend that is likely to continue. It is likely that an article within the next few years will discuss the growth in those 70 and over who choose to remain in the workforce!  The many options make this a wonderful opportunity for both employees and employers.

 

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


It’s a Prospective Employee’s Job Market

With numerous job openings and a very low unemployment rate in our area, it is the perfect time for those thinking of returning to work or of making a career change to take action. For those who took time off to provide child or family care, those who retired and want to return to work, those who took time off to travel or those who want to make a career change, this is the time to study your options and to review opportunities.

There are many opportunities available for both part-time and full-time positions. Many employers are offering more flexibility in work schedules, particularly for part-time positions.

If you are concerned about your current skill level, there are tutorials available to help you prepare for testing or for new positions.

Whether you want to reenter the work force, change job responsibilities or move to a different industry, this is the time do so!

Julia Aguilar


Job Interview — What to Wear and What Not to Wear in 2016

We’ve been asked quite a few times recently what the appropriate attire is for a job interview. The “anything goes” fashion rule that applies in some workplaces does not apply for most job interviews!

While suits and ties are no longer expected, conservative dress is still our recommendation. There is never a second chance to make a first impression!  The outfit you select to wear for a job interview is a big part of that first impression so don’t miss the opportunity to make a positive impression.

Prior to an interview, research the company you want to work for. By looking at employees’ photos on the company website, you can often see what dress is appropriate.  If you know employees at the company, ask them about the dress code.  If you are working with a staffing company, ask the Staffing Manager or Consultant who is sending you on the interview what they would recommend you wear.

Our basic guidelines are:

  • Wear a conservative outfit. Be sure the outfit fits—too tight or too short outfits are not a good choice. For women, pants and a conservative blouse are always a safe choice. Suits and dresses (preferably with sleeves) are also appropriate choices. For men, slacks and a dress shirt with or without a tie are safe choices. For most jobs, slacks and sometimes jeans and a polo shirt are appropriate. Tee-shirts with or without messages are not recommended.
  • Wear conservative shoes. For women, either flats or heels are appropriate. For men, casual shoes are fine and in many cases, sports shoes are fine. Flip-flops are not a good choice for anyone!
  • Avoid perfume, cologne and fragrant after-shave lotion. Many people are sensitive to fragrances and a sneezing interviewer does not make for a positive interview.
  • Jewelry and scarves are appropriate and can add a professional touch.
  • Visible tattoos and piercings are sometimes a negative so know the company culture.
  • Unique hair colors and styles may also make a negative impression so, if practical, a conservative color and style is recommended.

Some may feel that it is not fair to be judged by what you wear or how you look. That may be true, but the reality is that you are judged by the first impression you make.  Employers want employees they will be proud to have represent them.  Following these recommendations will help you be the one selected because you will make a positive first impression.  And, don’t forget, to use a firm handshake!

Julia Aguilar


Fond Farewell to Katy

The experiment worked! A year ago, we decided to add an entry level HR position to our recruiting team. We contacted Cal Poly for applications and hired Katy, a rising senior at the time. Our goal was to help prepare Katy for a career in HR whether with us or with another company.

Katy’s aptitude, skills and attitude were superb from the beginning. She quickly became adept at job postings, resume evaluations and phone screens. As the year went by, she learned to help administer employee benefits and worker’s compensation requirements. Her Senior Project was to update our Procedures Manual for the HR Coordinator position. Of course, she received an “A” from her professor and from us!

About six months ago, she and her fiancé made the decision to move to Montana after she graduated from Cal Poly. They did everything right—researched the area, arranged temporary living quarters, and secured jobs. Katy will receive her B.S. in Business Administration with concentrations in Human Resources and Management this weekend. She and Colby leave for Montana on Tuesday. We wish them great happiness and success in Montana. We also want to thank Katy for making our experiment work!

Julia 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


Fragrance Sensitivities in the Workplace

Though not legally required to provide a smell-free workplace, an increasing number of companies are providing fragrance-free workplaces. For those of us who have sensitivities to smells, including fragrances from perfumes and shaving lotions, a fragrance-free workplace can make the difference in whether or not you feel fine or struggle through the day with a headache, coughs and sneezes.  It can be extremely difficult to be productive when a co-worker is wearing a fragrance (whether perfume, shaving lotion, hair spray or hand cream) to which you are either sensitive or allergic.  Some employees have such severe reactions to smells that they may qualify as having a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act.  In these cases, employers are required to provide a reasonable accommodation, if available.

Employers are not required to provide a smell-free workplace. It may sometimes be impossible (or certainly not reasonable) to provide accommodation for an employee who is allergic to many different smells in the workplace.  How about the employee working in the shoe department next to the cosmetic counter in a department store?  How about the employee working as a receptionist in a nail salon?  Under the ADA, an employer may not be required to totally ban fragrances from the workplace because of the difficulty of enforcement. The exception is when the fragrance is unique to the work environment, minimal and/or the employer has more control over it.

The Best Practice may well be to provide a smell/fragrance-free workplace. If that is not considered practical by the employer, the next Best Practice would be to always take requests for reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act related to a fragrance sensitivity/allergy seriously and try to make a reasonable accommodation on a case-by-case basis.  Actions to consider include:  moving the employee to another area, providing an air purification system designed for the irritant, providing a closed-door workspace, designating certain areas as fragrance-free, using unscented cleaning products or allowing the employee to work remotely.

For those who enjoy wearing fragrances, this can be quite annoying. Some cannot believe that their expensive, favorite perfume actually makes some co-workers ill.  Legal guidance indicates that employees who are requested to not wear fragrances and who continue to do so can be disciplined for insubordination.

Our recommended Best Practice is a fragrance-free workplace!

 

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


Make the Right Hiring Decision — Quickly

In a recent forum for staffing firms, we were asked to identify our greatest difficulty in filling positions. An overwhelming number of responses from participants indicated that delayed decision-making from client companies is by far their greatest reason for incomplete or failed placements.

This is a trend we have been noticing frequently in 2015. Our client companies are losing one or more top candidates because other job offers are made while waiting for an interview to be scheduled or for all decision makers to have input. Multiple interviews with a company or summer vacations often stretch the process out for a month or longer. Some candidates just cannot financially afford to wait a month for employment decisions. Others choose to accept the first job offered because they just prefer to settle the question of where they are going to work without further interviews or job searches.

Many of today’s strongest candidates are relocations or recent college graduates. Typically, they are eager and ready to begin work. With the current low unemployment rates, strong candidates are frequently offered one or more jobs. A second factor is the financial need mentioned above. Many candidates just cannot afford to wait if there is a “start now” offer from another company.

Candidates currently employed and seeking advancement opportunities will sometimes wait for a decision from a company they particularly want to work for. Those relocating with a partner or those wishing to remain in SLO after graduation often take the first reasonable offer.

We recommend considering ways to make hiring decisions as quickly as possible. Consider phone, FaceTime or Skype interviews for those managers not available onsite or for out-of-town candidates. Managers may be able to use trusted substitutes to conduct interviews or to make hiring decisions.

The recent forum indicated that this is an issue throughout the United States. It’s important to make the right hiring decision—quickly!

Julia Aguilar