Tuesday, February 8, 2011
GCF Bank proudly participates in the Gloucester County Cares About Hunger Food Donation Collection Drive. Drop off your non-perishable food items at any GCF branch between February 14th & February 24th. Click here for a list of preferred items.
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The Elusive Search
The Labor Department reported fewer job openings in December, marking the second straight month of declines. Employers advertised nearly 3.1 million jobs at 2010 year end, the lowest total since September. There were 4.4 million available jobs in September 2007 when the recession began.
While jobs are being added to the U.S. workforce, it's not happening at a pace that will reduce unemployment. With nearly 14.5 million people searching for a job, that averages 4.7 people vying for each open position. In a strong economy, there would be only two.
This comes as no surprise to "Angie" who devoted 29 years to one Fortune 500 company before getting her pink slip. The company had two prior rounds of layoffs before she fell victim. Her tenure gained her pension benefits, albeit reduced by early termination. She was a mere two years shy of obtaining retiree health care benefits.
The company eliminated her management position, offering other internal options. But she would have had to relocate, uproot her entire family. Her husband would have had to leave his successful business behind. The cost did not equal the benefit.
With her experience, it was hard to imagine landing another job would be so hard. It's now been two years. "Angie" is still looking.
"Job searching is so different than it was in the early 80s." she tells me. "Everything is done online. You network on LinkedIn, search particular company Web sites for viable positions and send in your resume."
"Your resume has to be tailored each time for the specific position because companies use (computer) programs to weed through responses. If certain keywords are not mentioned in your qualifications, than your resume is not chosen and you never have the opportunity for that all important face-to-face contact."
"Angie" is among the lucky ones to realize how job hunting has changed. She has the skills to develop an online presence and constantly customize her resume.
Her former employer connected the newly-unemployed with a job coaching company. She attended webinars on resume building, networking, interviewing, marketing herself and developing a career plan.
Jobs are scarce in the outskirts of Detroit. But "Angie" hasn't given up hope. She's kept her skills sharp by taking on freelance project work during her time between jobs. And as the economy improves, she expects to resume her career any day now. She's well-poised to do so.
"Jackie" couldn't work during the two years she spent undergoing cancer treatment and associated surgeries. Her ordeal began nine years ago, but she's still reluctant to share that with potential employers. It's still viewed as a risky hire by many who fear she won't be able to perform her duties to the fullest.
It wasn't a problem at first. But she soon found herself divorced and in need of a steady income. And other than temporary jobs, she has no recent work history.
Adding insult to injury, the unemployment office had no record of her seven year employment prior to her health issues. The taxes her employer had deducted from her paycheck all of those years never left his pocket. Her unemployment application triggered an investigation and ultimate conviction for tax fraud. He is not giving her glowing recommendations to potential employers.
"Jackie" scours the newspapers daily in hopes of a new ad appearing. She surfs the Internet and makes sure everyone she knows is aware of her availability. Her friends carry a copy of her resume so it's handy if an opening develops at their place of employment.
She worked as a legal assistant most of her career, but at this point she's willing to take anything she can get. She's even applied at grocery stores for minimum wage, realizing that it's more than she's making not working at all.
The outlook may look pretty good. Manpower's Employment Outlook Survey for the first quarter of 2011 found that 14 percent of employers will be adding jobs in the current quarter.
Still, Kiplinger's predicts we'll see the 9 percent unemployment rate continue through this entire year.
So with companies finally starting to increase their bare bones workforce, what do the 4.7 vying for each open position have to do to stand out above the crowd?
They'll have to read the next article to find out.
Job Hunting 2011
Job hunting 2011 is a world away from how the exercise was performed in pre-recession 2007. Forget everything you knew about finding a job because those rules sure won't help you today.
The massive layoffs suffered these past few years have caused a different mindset in business operations. No more will you find a handful of key employees. Today, everyone that still has a job is a key employee. Only those with the specific skills necessary for survival remain.
The survivors learned to multi-task, taking on duties previously spread throughout an entire workforce. Support staff was shaved to a bare minimum. Managers craft their own correspondence kept electronically filed. Warehouse personnel are responsible for inventory control on top of shipping and receiving. Quality control is everybody's job.
So as demand increases and new workers hired to keep pace, employers are looking for specific skill sets to fit those needs. And the high unemployment rate provides a massive pool from which to find the perfect match.
How tough is the competition? Google last week announced plans to add 6,000 new employees to its ranks before the end of this year. In response, they received more than 75,000 resumes.
While virtually every aspect of job hunting has changed, one thing has remained constant. That's the application form itself which still requests information no longer relevant.
Employers want to know what you have to offer their company. They want to know how you saved your prior company money, improved a process, introduced a revolutionary product, streamlined operations, met a tight deadline or reorganized the break room refrigerator. They want to hear about your results.
That little box on the application form marked "Tasks and Duties" or "Responsibilities" tells them nothing in that regard. It does not distinguish you from the previous applicant who operated a lathe, filed documents or mopped the floor.
Rather than list your previous duties, write a short paragraph on your accomplishments. Have it prepared in advance, generic enough to fit multiple purposes with room to customize for the specific position you're applying for.
Be proactive in your approach. Don't wait to hear about potential openings. Most are filled before a position is advertised. Study companies you may want to work for. Learn of new contracts they may have been awarded or new products they may be developing. Tailor your cover letter and resume for their specific purpose. You'll display initiative and a knack for research, two key traits any organization would welcome. And your resume will already be on their mind when an opening does become available.
Don't think of yourself as job hunting. Assume the role of a sales professional, and go about the business of selling yourself.
Establish a brand identity. Don't stray from it. Decide what it is exactly that you want to do. Doing what you love naturally leads to giving your best, a distinct advantage over those just looking for work.
Employers are seeking specific skills and traits, you will find the slot that best fits what you have to offer.
Market your brand identity whenever and wherever possible. Plaster yourself on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Post a status or tweet regularly that projects your positive outlook. "Just got a lead and on my way over to introduce myself." Or "Got my resume up on Careerbuilder.com today." Anything that projects your initiative and willingness to work is music to the ears of a hiring manager.
An estimated 50 percent of hiring is done online today, along with background checking. Your online presence has to be strong. You can bet those competing for the same job are using the Internet as well. Here's another chance to shine.
Did you pass the time while unemployed with volunteer work? Be sure to include it on your resume. Boast about building homes for low income families or rescuing dogs from kill shelters. The skills you displayed serving others add to your marketability. You may not have collected a paycheck in the process, but reward comes in many forms other than monetary.
Not only did you keep your skills sharp, but you likely came in contact with new faces. Ultimately, one of them may know somebody who can help you land a new job.
Be resourceful, be creative. It may not come as quickly as you would like, but the job landscape is finally starting to take shape. Close your eyes and try to see yourself in that picture. And do whatever it takes to make it happen.
The Presidential administration has begun the budget process for next year. In an effort to recognize that the financial recovery will be slow, President Obama is proposing to ensure that the federal unemployment fund is not depleted. His budget plan proposes an increase in payroll taxes. States would have more tools to collect additional payroll taxes from businesses under President Barack Obama's budget proposal. It would raise the level of wages on which companies must pay Federal unemployment taxes to $15,000 from $7,000.
Economic strength will be needed in the business community in order to create jobs. President Obama told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that he needs business leaders' help in fixing "burdensome" corporate taxes. He said proposed trade deals with Colombia and Panama would bring sales to U.S. businesses, and he promised to push them through to ratification. This business group has opposed many of Obama's policies. His appearance was seen as an effort to earn corporate support as well as independent voters.
States are working hard to better their local economics. Locally, New Jersey Governor Christie has promised to work toward improving the climate for businesses in NJ. The New Jersey business tax rate is 9 percent now. New Jersey is currently considered the 48th worst tax climate for businesses, followed only by New York and California according to the Tax Foundation's list of tax friendly states. Governor Christie took some trips to draw business to NJ. Illinois was part of his road show following a tax hike there to 9.5%. Illinois still ranks above New Jersey, thanks to other laws and their lower personal income tax rate according to the Tax Foundation, with a ranking of 36. NJ still has a way to go!
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