I’ve heard it said that right after the Labor Day holiday, the New Year in the workplace starts and it is a great time for both businesses and their workers to evaluate their organization and job situations and make “New Year’s” resolutions.
Have you made yours?
Looking on the bright side, the nation’s employment doldrums may be easing, a recent survey says.
The pace of monthly job losses slowed in August, according to government reports, but the small improvement suggests a return to job growth could still be months away, with the national unemployment rate possibly reaching 10% before things really get better.
As a technical matter, most economists believe that the United States has escaped the grip of recession, the longest since the Great Depression. The Labor Department’s latest employment report, released September 4, supports the belief that economic expansion has resumed, marking a continued if somewhat modest improvement to the rate of lost jobs.
Then there are those experts who believe we are facing the prospect of a “jobless recovery” – in which the economy expands but jobs continue to disappear – a replay of what happened after the last recession in 2001.
What’s happening in your business? Are you hiring? Or continuing to keep costs down by not aggressively hiring or filling vacant jobs? Please let me hear from you.
If you’re someone who likes good news, check out this survey released August 25, by job board CareerBuilder.com and Robert Half International Inc., in which 53 percent of employers said they plan to hire full-time employees in the next 12 months, and 40 percent plan to hire contract, temporary or project professionals.
The survey also found that 47 percent of hiring managers cited underqualified applicants as their most common hiring challenge.
The annual Employment Dynamics and Growth Expectations Report provides an overview of the current employment situation, as well as a glimpse of the future hiring landscape. The report offers information on what types of professionals employers will be looking for when economic conditions improve.
The survey questioned more than 500 hiring managers and 500 workers.
“Companies already are identifying the key skill sets they will need in new hires to take advantage of the opportunities presented by improving economic conditions,” said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International. “Firms that cut staffing levels too deeply may need to do significant rebuilding once the recovery takes hold.”
Hiring managers consider customer service the function most critical to their organization’s success, followed by sales, marketing/creative and technology. Public relations/communications, business development and accounting/finance round out the list.
Looking ahead, respondents cited technology, customer service and sales as the departments that will add positions first. Marketing/creative, business development, human resources and accounting/finance also were cited.
Despite high unemployment rates across the U.S. and an expanded pool of available talent, employers continue to report difficulty finding skilled professionals for open positions. Employers said that on average, 44 percent of resumes they receive are from unqualified candidates.
As they prepare for growth, employers are open to paying more for hard-to-find talent. Sixty-one percent of hiring managers said their companies are willing to negotiate higher compensation for qualified candidates.
Employers, however, are unwilling to accelerate the hiring process. The average time to recruit a new full-time employee is the same range as this time last year: 4.5 to 14.4 weeks.
In addition to spending time reviewing and screening a high volume of resumes from unqualified applicants, employers also are more carefully evaluating those job candidates who are invited for interviews in order to avoid hiring mistakes.
WORKERS AT A DISCOUNT
Imagine a source of labor that will recruit, screen and, where necessary, train new workers. Even better, imagine Uncle Sam picking up part of the wages for those new hires.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 expands an already existing tax credit, a direct reduction of an operation’s tax bill, for hiring new workers from any one of nine targeted groups, such as the disabled, welfare recipients and veterans.
The Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) rewards employers by footing the bill for as much as $6,000 of the wages paid to newly hired qualified workers from these groups. The tax credit is equal to 40 percent of an employee’s first-year wages, with varied amounts for veterans and summer youth hires.
State labor departments or similar state and/or county government agencies certify (as well as find and often train) workers who qualify under the WOTC program. An employer hires from a pool of workers who have been qualified by state employment bureaus, as well as from local labor and welfare organizations that locate qualified candidates for available jobs and often train workers to the employer’s standards. Once an employer has hired a qualified worker, the employer can claim a tax credit on the annual tax return using Form 5884, Work Opportunity Credit.
While not all of the groups eligible for this unique tax credit are suitable candidates for the demanding tasks normally associated with many businesses, the reduced labor costs warrant a further look. More information about the WOTC is available from the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment & Training Administration.
About the Author
Les Gore is founder and managing partner of Executive Search International, a Boston-based, nationally recognized search firm and an over 25-year veteran of the “recruiting wars.”
He also offers Job Search and Career Coaching for senior, executive level individuals who are looking for a new job, or want to be well-positioned in the event they are let go.