2017 Hiring Trends Show Signs of Optimism—and Challenges—Ahead of the New Year

Express Employment Professionals recently conducted a Job Insights Survey to track quarterly hiring trends for businesses across a wide range of industries to see what the hiring landscape looks like as we head into 2018. Good news: the results were optimistic! Here are a few major takeaways:

Businesses are optimistic about the economy
The majority of respondents reported that they expect to see an upward trend in hiring, or at least maintain current hiring levels. Only 11% of businesses expect their employment activity to decrease in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Up slightly since the beginning of 2017, 45% of respondents say they expect business to trend up, followed by 44% who believe their hiring activity will stay in line with current levels. In fact, these statistics have remained relatively consistent throughout 2017, which bodes well for the economy heading into the new year.

The heaviest hiring activity this year has been in the “general labor” segment, followed by skilled labor (industrial), and administrative/office clerical. And 92% of respondents do not plan to eliminate positions in the fourth quarter—which is up from 86% in fourth quarter 2016.

Despite optimism about the economy, qualified candidate pools continue to dry
Across most industries, there are jobs to be found. However, candidates with the skills to fill in-demand positions are becoming fewer and far between. Attracting and retaining top performers continues to be one of the highest priorities for businesses. As a result, employers have begun to rethink their hiring mindset, focusing on transferable soft skills and increased training.

According to Bob Funk, CEO of Express Employment Professionals, “Good economic news doesn’t come without its challenges. Finding new workers is today’s challenge—and one that employers and policymakers will need to tackle as long as the economy continues to grow.”

The Job Insights Survey revealed that more than 70% of businesses say it is “somewhat” or “very” difficult to recruit for and fill positions, with the top three reasons jobs go unfilled including lack of applicants with experience, lack of applicants in general, and lack of applicants with hard skills.

Wage growth will remain stable, but largely unchanged
Wage growth is often a barometer for the health of the overall economy. If wages are increasing, then employment activity is likely on the uptick as businesses compete for top talent to fill open positions, as well as retain their current workforce. For the fourth quarter of 2017, survey results indicate wage growth will remain mostly stable, with some growth expected.

When asked how wages would fluctuate over the next three months, the majority of respondents said wages would remain the same in the near future. A little more than one-third expect to see an increase, while only 1% of businesses surveyed believe wages in their companies will decrease.

“Although, there’s certainly good news for some workers, most will likely see unchanged wages in the fourth quarter of 2017,” said Funk. “However, as the labor market continues to tighten, we would expect to see higher rates of wage increases in the coming quarters.”



Resume Tips to Impress Your Interviewer

As the weather gets colder, heat up your resume

Interviewers and HR professionals go through hundreds of resumes a day. And that’s after computers have already gone through thousands more. If you really want to stand out, you need to add something extra to your resume. After all, you can’t make an impression without an interview.

We’ve previously provided you with the best words to use in your resume, and we’ve helped out with ways to maintain your resume over time. In this blog, we’ll focus on the little things you can do with your resume to truly stand out.

Get Past the Filter

In order for your resume to even be seen by a human being, you first have to get past the robots. No, this isn’t a science fiction story—we’re talking about the programs companies use to filter resumes.

These programs look for certain keywords and phrases that show how you match the job qualifications. A lot of that is industry jargon—words and phrases only those “in the know” would use. And guess where a lot of those words show up! Right in the job description. Find anything usable in the job description and pop it right back into your resume. Google is an invaluable resource for finding out more industry-specific words to use.

However, be careful of using too many keywords. If your keywords aren’t organically placed into the resume, they will look out of place once the resume makes it into human hands.  Instead of trying to pack your resume with as many keywords as possible, just make sure to choose the right keywords in the right places.

Cater Your Resume to the Job Description

Don’t stop at just customizing your resume for the industry. Make sure it answers each and every concern brought up by the job description. Make sure each bullet shows exactly how your individual work advanced the company as a whole.

You can accomplish this even if your prior work has not been in the same industry. Just re-frame your experiences with industry specific terms, and show how that experience would really help in this new job.

The only difficult part of all of this is answering requirements with bullet points. You obviously can’t just write out your answers like in grade school. You have to adapt them to the resume format. Look at a few different resume formats online, and choose the one that best matches your current needs.

Your Accomplishments

Companies want to know more than what you did. They want to know how what you did benefited the company as a whole. In other words, they want to know your accomplishments.

Quantify each accomplishment, noting how it led to an X% increase in efficiency or saved X amount of time on project. Use action verbs like oversaw, managed, led, etc.

Looking for more resume help? Let us know your questions in the comments below!





Find a Holiday Job Now

Did you know holiday hiring has already started?

Holiday hiring is already in full swing. Businesses need to prepare for the increased traffic the holiday months are sure to bring. Here are a few reasons why now is a great time to look for a seasonal job.

Harvest Season

For many areas in the United States, now is the time to thresh the grain and harvest fruits and vegetables. Carrots, Brussels sprouts, Celeriac, Endive, and cabbage  are all in season in the fall.  As a result, many areas are hiring farmhand positions. Grocery stores also need to hire more people to prepare for the increased demand.

Although these jobs are usually temporary for the season, they are also frequently part-time. So you can use them to bolster your normal paycheck or as a chance to experience a different industry.

Holiday Preparation

The holidays bring a huge uptick in traffic for most businesses, especially retail and grocery chains. November experiences a huge amount of Christmas traffic (especially black Friday), while December is full of last minute shoppers.

However, new employees need to be trained before the holiday season arrives. That’s why companies are already starting holiday hiring.

Less Turnover

Many industries traditionally experience a fair amount of turnover in the summer. This is due to vacations and family obligations. Now is when vacations are finally winding down and people are ready to work. Many people also need to work so they can afford the holidays.

So now what?

What does all of this mean for you as an applicant? It means you can get ahead of the curve by calling businesses you are interested in working for. If you call them courteously and ask about job opportunities, they may keep you in mind when hiring starts in the near future. And that holiday job could turn into a full-time job. 

Not quite sure how to make that next step? We’re here to help. Headquartered in Oklahoma City, OK, Express Employment Professionals is a leading staffing provider in the U.S. and Canada. Our recruiters are already reaching out to companies for the holiday season. Just contact your local Express office or create an Express account to get started.

Are you looking for a holiday job? Let us know how the search is going in the comments below!






Poll Results: Will You Retire?

A few months ago we held a Movin’ On Up poll asking whether or not retirement was in your future. Only about 23% of those polled said that they planned to retire.

Twenty-nine percent said they can’t afford to retire, while 15% think retirement would be boring. Just fewer than 9% don’t see a reason to retire since they can travel and do what they want while working. Seven percent have heavy debt they have to pay off before retirement even becomes a consideration. Six percent wanted to keep working because they love their jobs, while 3% need to support their children financially. Two percent have to support their parents financially.

Six percent chose the “Other” option, with responses ranging from needing to work part-time or being a workaholic to the desire to start a second career.

So what does all of that data mean? We’re living in a changing employment environment. For a variety of reasons, baby boomers are working longer. This is the new normal. But it can be nice to see that you aren’t alone.

Any other reasons you won’t be retiring any time soon? Let us know in the comments below!


Why Companies Don’t Respond After an Interview

You thought the interview went well, but never heard back. Why?

Going through an interview is stressful enough, but it’s waiting for a response afterwards that can really get an applicant’s head spinning. Did they like me? Was I good enough? What could I have done better?

To make sure you stay in the loop, ask for a “next steps” timeline during your interview. That way you’ll at least have some idea of when they’re deciding on a candidate. After that, the only option is to send a polite email asking if they’ve made a decision yet. Then you play the waiting game.

But waiting can get unbearable. Especially when the company never gets back to you.

Isn’t this rude? Why would a company skip out on the goodwill a well-meaning rejection email can generate? Although we personally feel companies should always send out courtesy rejection emails, here are a few reasons why they might not:

They’re Busy

This may not seem like much of an excuse, but many companies, especially smaller companies, simply don’t feel they have the time to let every candidate know why they were rejected. Perhaps they interviewed 100 or so applicants, but only have one person dedicated to Human Resources. That one person has to devote most of their time to the new hire. When they finally do find time, it’s too late to send out rejection emails.

Busy companies might also send mass rejection letters via traditional mail. That could mean weeks before you get a response.

They Don’t Want to Start a Conversation

When companies send out a rejection email, it gives applicants an opportunity to ask why they were rejected. Companies don’t, or rather can’t, answer this question. Any type of rejection could be taken offensively, and offended interviewees might resort to legal action.

In some cases, candidates may not take rejection well, and respond by sending angry emails. Many companies just don’t think it’s worth it to respond, given their unique experience with sending out rejection emails in the past.

They’re Still Considering Applicants

In some cases, companies have one applicant they place above all others. Their first pick. But that first pick doesn’t always go through. Maybe they can’t agree on salaries or vacation time. When something like that happens, the company goes to their backups, their second, or even third choice. So if you don’t get a rejection right away, it might be because the company is holding onto your resume in case their first pick doesn’t work out. It’s even possible that the company doesn’t want to offend you with a rejection because they want to keep you in mind for a future position.

A company’s response time might also vary according to the industry they are in. State and government agencies, for instance, can take up to a year or more to place a position.


At the end of the day, you’re never going to know why a company decided not to send you a rejection letter. Maybe it was for a good reason, maybe it wasn’t. So don’t dwell on it. It isn’t easy to let go, but when you do, it will become much easier to move forward. Get started on the next application and start preparing for that next interview.

Has a company ever kept you waiting for a response?  Let us know about it in the comments below!

Mentoring 101: Finding the Right Fit is Key to Successful Relationships

Mentorships are a time-honored tradition in the workforce. From entry-level recent graduates to mid-career professionals making a move toward the C-suite, there’s an opportunity to take an employee’s training and development to the next level through mentorship relationships.

And the statistics show mentors can have a major impact on not just the mentee’s success, but also on the productivity of a business overall.

According to the 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey, younger employees intending to stay with their organization more than five years are twice as likely to have a mentor. And, 71 percent of those likely to leave in the next two years are unhappy with how their leadership skills are being developed.

So, there’s little doubt that a strong culture of mentorship is important for building a productive and engaged workforce.

But before you jump headfirst into a mentor relationship with a bright, up-and-coming employee, there are a few considerations you should make to ensure the relationship is productive for everyone involved.

What can you offer vs. what does your mentee need?
First and foremost, is the relationship even a good fit? There’s much more to it than simply pairing a senior leader with a younger employee. Before any official relationship is established, there should be discussions about what the mentee’s goals are and what the mentor is willing and able to provide.

Forcing a poor fit will likely be a waste of time for both parties in the long run. Mentorships are first and foremost a relationship. And if either the mentor or the mentee are not getting what they need out of the arrangement, it’s best to be open and honest about the situation and to help each other find a better fit.

Is the mentee ready to learn?
There’s a saying that success is where preparation and opportunity meet. Even if you sense potential in a young employee, if they are not prepared to take the next step and make a commitment to a mentorship relationship, you shouldn’t try to rush it.

Again, this is where communication about what the mentor and mentee expect to gain out of the relationship plays a major role. If a mentor feels their potential mentee is not ready to fully engage in the process, it may be more beneficial to put the plan on hold until they are.

What can you learn from the mentee?
Mentorships aren’t a one-way street. No matter how experienced a mentor may be, there’s always something new to learn—and those lessons may very well come from their mentee. The best relationships are an exchange of knowledge where both parties benefit from the experience.

A millennial mentee, for example, may be able to teach a baby boomer mentor about the most current trends in social media or other communications technologies. Being blind to rank and open to learning new skills or taking advantage of each other’s unique expertise is key to a mutually beneficial relationship.

Mentorships take many forms and in the end, it’s up to the individuals involved to find the right fit for their development needs. Communication, setting expectations, and a willingness to learn are some of the most important characteristics of any great work relationship, and essential to successfully mentoring the next generation of leaders.


Why You Shouldn’t Give Up On Your Job Search

You may want to quit your job search, but what happens when you actually do?

The job search isn’t easy. It’s the internet equivalent of cold calling: knocking on doors and hoping someone is interested in your product. Except the product is you. Every time you fail to get an interview or don’t make it to the next round, it can feel like a personal insult.

All of that makes it tempting to quit—to stop searching for a while and dig into your savings, maybe get started on a few hobbies. If you can afford it, that’s fine! However, if the job search turns into months that turn into years, you might have a problem.

Here are some other things to consider before giving up the job search.

You Need Money and Purpose

This is the most obvious reason, but we felt it warranted mentioning anyway. If you stop looking for a job, you can’t find employment or collect unemployment.

You may plan on using the time to pursue other interests or hobbies. However, if you do decide to do this, plan things out far in advance. How long can you afford to live off of savings? Is this pursuit worth having a gap on your resume? Will you be able to explain that gap in future interviews?

Mooching off of family members or friends isn’t a good plan, especially if you’re not looking for a job. Any time spent out of the job search is time not spent furthering your career. It might seem fun at first, but once the money runs out, what will you have to show for it?

Your Skills and Personality Are Valuable

According to a September USA today article, “[since] employers [are] struggling to find workers in an ever-tightening labor market, many are hiring job candidates for both white- and blue-collar jobs who lack skills or experience deemed essential just a few years ago.”

What does that mean for you as a job seeker? It turns out that all those jobs you avoided applying for because of their lofty qualifications might actually be a good fit for you. As noted by the author, Paul Davidson, “candidates with some rough edges are becoming more attractive because employers have little choice. The low, 4.4% unemployment rate means there are few uncommitted workers. There was a record 6.2 million job openings in July, the Labor Department said [the week of 9/11/17]. And nearly half of about 2,000 companies said they couldn’t find qualified candidates for their job openings this year, up from 41% in 2016, according to a CareerBuilder survey.”

If you stop looking for work due to frustration with the process, you won’t end up applying for these jobs. The economy is close to full employment, with unemployment just under 5%. There’s always some amount of unemployment due to people switching jobs, and right now that makes up the majority of the statistic.

This means there are more open jobs than candidates to fill those positions. As noted in the USA Today article, employers are willing to take on employees they can train and bring to the level needed to do the job. You don’t have to be perfect, but you do have to apply.

Change Your Perspective

If the traditional job search isn’t working out, consider job searching differently instead of giving up entirely. If you’re tired of spending hours filling out online applications, try spending more time networking. Join civic groups (volunteer groups) or professional organizations.

But don’t start out by asking every person you meet for a job. Get to know them, and build a relationship organically. Become friends. After that, you can mention that you’re looking for a job.

Try to think about the job search differently. Keep things interesting. Remember how employers are now accepting applicants with “rough edges?” Realize that being hired for jobs like that might mean taking a pay cut. You may also want to consider a change of industry or types of jobs you haven’t worked before. Look at your skills and figure out which ones are transferable.

How do you keep up with the job search?  Let us know in the comments below!