The unemployment rate may have dropped to its lowest level since before the Great Recession, but there are still plenty of people out there seeking work (or a better job than the one they have), and some of them will go to some pretty amazing lengths to try and nab that position. Witness CareerBuilder’s latest survey results on “13 Unusual Things Job Seekers Have Done to Get Noticed,” in which hiring managers offer examples of some of the unusual tactics they’ve seen. Here are the standouts:
1. Candidate had a priest contact the hiring manager and ask for the candidate to be hired.
2. Candidate bought a first-class upgrade to sit next to the hiring manager on a trans-Atlantic flight.
3. During the month of October, candidate came dressed in a costume for Halloween.
4. Candidate asked hiring manager to share an ice cream cone.
5. Candidate sent a pair of embroidered socks with a note saying he would knock the company’s socks off if hired.
6. Candidate sent a shoe with a flower in it as a thank you after the interview. The note said “Trying to get my foot in the door.”
7. Candidate mailed the hiring manager money in an envelope.
8. Candidate kissed hiring manager.
Of course, in order to land a job interview in the first place, job seekers need to get noticed — and in certain highly competitive industries, such as advertising, hiring managers tend to see even crazier stunts than what’s on CareerBuilder’s list. These have included challenging a firm’s co-founder to a one-on-one basketball tournament and hacking into a firm’s internal communications system and sending emails to its creative directors with links to the jobseeker’s work samples.
Few people seemed as surprised by the results of last week’s vote for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union than the British themselves. Meanwhile, other countries in Europe are witnessing similar “exit” movements of their own — in Spain (“Spexit”), France (“Frexit”) and even Germany (“Gexit”), although the consensus seems to be that those campaigns are unlikely to result in more countries leaving the 28-nation bloc. The reverberations are even echoing here in the U.S., where some Texas secessionists are calling for the Lone Star State to have a “Texit” referendum.
The process of formally unwinding the U.K. from the E.U. will be long and complex, and won’t begin until the country’s leadership formally invokes “Article 50,” perhaps in the fall. As such, experts say most multinational companies with operations in the U.K. are taking a “wait and see” approach in terms of how the changes in employment law, benefits and immigration may affect them.
“There’s still a significant amount of uncertainty as to how companies are going to proceed,” says William Sheridan, vice president for international human resources services at the National Foreign Trade Council in New York. “Brexit is going to have a range of implications — it’s a real mess.”
One of the biggest uncertainties is whether companies with U.K. operations will continue to enjoy unfettered access to the E.U. market once the separation is complete. Another big worry is over the “free movement” of people throughout E.U. member countries that is one of the pillars of E.U. membership — once that’s gone, it may be much harder for U.K. companies to hire and transfer foreign nationals. Indeed, some U.S.-based companies — most notably JP Morgan Chase — have indicated they may shift major portions of their employee base out of the U.K. This means the U.K. may become a less-attractive destination post-Brexit because it will no longer offer easy access to talented people from throughout the E.U.
“Many companies have established in the U.K. because … they access a large pool of qualified employees from other E.U. countries,” writes Ashley Craig, a partner at international law firm Venable. “If the U.K. leaves the E.U., that will likely no longer be the case.” Further complicating matters, Craig writes, many E.U. professionals — such as lawyers — may no longer have their credentials recognized in the U.K., as they currently are under E.U. rules.
The E.U. has indicated that it will not be inclined to let the British retain the trade advantages that come with E.U. membership, probably as a way to discourage other countries from exiting. Manufacturers with a heavy presence in the U.K., such as Ford and Caterpillar, may end up having to move some plants, offices and staff to countries that remain in the E.U. in order to maintain their ready access to that crucial market, says Terry Gallagher, president of international executive-search firm Battalia Winston.
“The biggest challenge will be to engage and retain talent in this environment of more global uncertainty and more possible exits from the E.U. … ” he says. “Those companies that are nimble and proactive will do better than those waiting to see the impact and putting everything on hold.
HR leaders at multinational companies will want to pay especially close attention to developments once the U.K. invokes Article 50, which will begin the two-year separation process from the E.U., says Sheridan. “Major law firms have been cranking out webinars and presentations on how Brexit may affect all sorts of regulations … it’s important for HR to stay attuned to what’s going on.”
The maker of the Post-it Note has displaced the world’s best-known technology company atop the list of organizations that millennials most want to work for. 3M, which in addition to the aforementioned product makes Scotch tape, packaging products, laminating systems and a whole host of other things you can actually touch or hold in your hand, has displaced Google for the No. 1 place in this year’s 2016 Millennial Career Survey, conducted by the National Society of High School Scholars. Google was the top choice in the 2015 survey.
3M CEO Inge Thulin was so delighted when he heard the news that he walked over to CHRO Marlene McGrath’s office and gave her a hug, he told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “This is a big, big statement,” Thulin told the paper. “This is incredible. It’s fantastic. When you look at Google and Apple and the others, we left them in the dust.”
Google didn’t do so shabbily, actually: It ranks No. 2 on this year’s list, followed by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital at No. 3, Walt Disney Co. at No. 4 and “local hospitals” at fifth place. The FBI, Buzzfeed, Apple, Amazon and the Central Intelligence Agency also made the top 10.
3M appeals to young people because of its sustainability projects and its three-to-12-month leadership development program, Thulin told the Star Tribune. Its commitment to diversity is another big attractor for millennials, he said. Indeed, research has confirmed that young people are very interested in leadership development, as well as diversity, and that they’ll look for the exit signs if they find the development opportunities at their current employer lacking.
The NHSS survey results are based on responses from a big and diverse group: 13,000 high schoolers, college students and young professionals ages 15 to 32, 48 percent of whom are African-American, Hispanic or Asian, 23 percent first-generation college students and 39 percent multilingual.
“Currently, the top career interests of this group are STEM, business and arts, and entertainment and media,” says NHSS president James W. Lewis. “Millennials hope to find in the workplace fair treatment, corporate social responsibility and strong company benefits, which include flexible work schedules.”
As its name suggested, HireVue’s Digital Disruption 2016 in Park City, Utah was, for the most part, all about distrupting HR through technology. More precisely, the vast majority of the content surrounded hiring, HireVue’s roots. But as CEO Mark Newman made quite clear during an opening general session titled “New Wave of Disruption,” the South Jordan, Utah-based firm is no longer just about talent acquisition. It’s now about coaching and developing talent, too.
Though still a small portion of its business, with around 30 clients, Newman noted that HireVue Coach, a recent addition to the firm’s Team Acceleration Software Platform, is already growing at a fairly fast clip. He predicted that it soon will become a substantial piece of HireVue’s overall business. To date, he noted, training has been ineffective; it doesn’t stick. But by leveraging the power of video, he said, employers can now change employee behavior (primarily for those in customer-facing positions) in a fundamental way.
Of course, as you might expect, Digital Disruption (now in its third year), like most user events, was chock full of client success stories. Hilton. United Airlines. Vodafone. Netflix. But it also featured a number of speakers who looked at bigger-picture issues impacting HR.
One who personally stood out for me was Rusty Rueff, a former recruiting executive at PepsiCo and Electronic Arts who now sits on a number of boards and is an investor in several Silicon Valley start-ups. (I personally had an opportunity to meet Rusty a number of years ago at a much smaller gathering of CHROs.)
Rueff, in a general session titled “Craft(ing) of the Future,” suggested that those in recruiting need to stop thinking of recruitment as a profession and begin to think of it as a craft.
“A profession is defined as an occupation requiring prolonged training and a formal qualification,” he said. “Doctors and lawyers are a profession. But a crafts person [exercises a skill] in making something. We make something of people. We make something of organizations. We make something of cultures.”
To illustrate his point, Rueff recounted his days running recruiting at Frito Lay, where he was charged with interviewing candidates all day long, week in and week out.
“One day, I said to myself, ‘I’m the most powerful guy in the company?’ he recalled. “My other voice said, ‘What are you talking about?’ And I said, ‘No, I’m the most powerful guy in the company! because if I wanted everyone to have green eyes, I could do that. I could screen out everyone who didn’t have green eyes.’ That’s pretty scary, because I’m out there deciding what the organization’s culture is going to be by who I let in and who I screen out.”
Rueff recalled that he believed at the time that the HR function at Frito Lay needed change leaders—so that’s who he brought into the organization.
“I was a lowly little guy [at Frito Lay],” he said, “but I got to change the culture.”
Rueff told those attending that a crafts person needs to be, among other things, agile—someone who is able to adopt new ways of thinking. He added that such a person is like “an actor who can play many different kinds of roles on many different kinds of stages.”
To be successful, Rueff said, those in HR and recruiting are going to need to begin thinking like data scientists. “You don’t have to have a degree [as] a data scientist,” he said. “If you’re good with numbers, you can be one.” In other words, it’s a skill people can learn.
In addition, he said, they have to “think like the software-design architects of today, not yesterday. [People] who are fast and nimble.”
And they need to think like personal trainers, he said. “One size fits one when it comes to talent in the future.”
Speaking to this notion of one size fits one, another presenter, Molly Weaver, offered up a great example during a session titled “Stop Screening Out Great Talent.”
As director of talent acquisition at Children’s Mercy, Weaver said she was saddled by a hiring process that was way “too long” and “cumbersome” for applicants. So about a year ago, Weaver and her team unveiled a unique program called “Interview First.”
Instead of encouraging job candidates to apply for a specific job, “Interview First” enables them to submit a video via the company’s website in which they share something about their background and what they would like to do at Children’s Mercy. (Yes, you guessed it: Children’s Mercy, headquartered in Kansas City, uses the HireVue platform.)
Each day, two recruiters are assigned to review the videos that come in and parse them out to the appropriate recruiters (Children’s Mercy currently has 10 recruiters and jobs are divided into clinical and nonclinical). The idea behind the initiative, Weaver said, was to just give people a chance to tell their stories. By putting these videos at the front end of the process, she said, Children’s Mercy is able to quickly capture a lot of great talent, people who otherwise might have left the process.
Just because they aren’t the right candidate for one particular job, she said, doesn’t mean they aren’t right for something else at the company or an opening down the road.
Once the videos are evaluated, potential candidates are told they should consider applying for a particular position right away, there may be something for them down the pike or they’re not really a good fit.
Weaver pointed out that affirmative-action laws aren’t a concern for Children’s Mercy (a government contractor) here, since these individuals aren’t applying for a specific job.
So how is it working out for Children’s Mercy? To date, 120 positions have filled through “Interview First,” including nine individuals who were rehires. Interestingly, the new hires, on average, had applied seven times before.
Certainly, a pretty good start in disrupting a process that is clearly in need of some serious disruption, I think.
The HR tech world just got a big new player. Really big.
Once Microsoft closes its $26 billion acquisition of LinkedIn late this year, the software giant will own a service that has become increasingly important to HR departments around the world. With Microsoft’s resources behind it, LinkedIn could become a massive force not only in recruiting, but in the larger world of HR, experts say.
Among the business opportunities for Microsoft, he noted, is “expanding beyond recruiting and learning and development to create value for any part of an organization involved with hiring, managing, motivating or leading employees. This human capital area is a massive business opportunity and an entirely new one for Microsoft.”
That doesn’t necessarily mean a Microsoft-backed LinkedIn will be moving into payroll, benefits administration and other bread-and-butter HR applications, though. Many experts see the company integrating LinkedIn data into Microsoft Office tools, but not moving wholesale into new lines of business.
Under Microsoft, “LinkedIn could become a network for learning and collaboration,” providing HR departments a tool for connecting employees, says George LaRocque, a well-known HR technology consultant. “I think that’s the direction.”
LinkedIn already is a force to be reckoned with. Though far smaller than social-media titans like Facebook, it virtually owns the world of professional connections, with over 100 million active users and four times as many profiles. It’s increasingly necessary for an active business person to have a presence on the site, which has made it a critical resource in many businesses — particularly sales and HR.
The company posted $2.9 billion in revenue last year. About $1.9 billion of that was in its “talent solutions” business, the company says. Most of that came from recruitment services, which include premium search functions, targeted job postings, a referral tool for current employees and company branding. Through its April 2015 acquisition of the online tutorial site Lynda.com, LinkedIn also has a solid presence in training.
Though revenue was up 41 percent from 2014, in other ways LinkedIn has lost momentum, which is what helped make it an acquisition target. After disappointing earnings, the share price had dropped by 50 percent — from over $260 in February 2015.
Many experts say the marriage with Microsoft makes sense because the two companies don’t overlap in services, yet cater to the same audience — business professionals. That opens up the potential for connections between Microsoft productivity tools and LinkedIn’s vast people database. The immediate opportunities may be in customer relationship management — an area where Microsoft already has a presence with its Microsoft Dynamics software.
The reality, though, is that no one knows what Microsoft plans to do with LinkedIn — likely including Microsoft itself, notes LaRocque, principal analyst and founder of New Providence, N.J.-based #hrwins.
“I think we’re all going to be reading tea leaves for a little bit on this one,” he says. “The opportunities are endless.”
But most experts say Microsoft is most likely to build on its strengths as a provider of tools that business professionals use every day. LaRocque sees the company connecting LinkedIn’s Lynda tutorial videos to Excel, for example, so that users can get immediate help.
He and others don’t see this as a beginning of a move to take over HR technology — or even just recruiting.
“I have a hard time thinking Microsoft is excited about getting into talent acquisition,” though LinkedIn may well stay in that business, LaRocque says. On the other hand, LinkedIn’s networking and communication functions could become another “pillar” of the company’s Office 365 platform. “They’re impacting HR technology in a huge way,” he says. “But they’re not the classic HR player.”
Kyle Lagunas of the IT market research firm International Data Corp. has a similar view. He sees three key opportunities for Microsoft in the acquisition: LinkedIn’s in endorsements, recommendations and posts.
If properly leveraged by Microsoft, LinkedIn endorsements — in which users rate each other for various skills — could be used internally “to map influence across various subject matters, skills and capabilities,” he notes in an email.
Recommendations shared among LinkedIn users could provide a powerful tool for recruiters, he says. And companies could track posts on LinkedIn’s Pulse service to help workers develop — and demonstrate — expertise.
Another HR tech expert agrees that the Microsoft-LinkedIn deal will lead to new tools for HR departments, but not fundamentally change the landscape.
Kathryn Minshew, CEO of a career site called The Muse, notes that the two companies both target established white-collar professionals. She doesn’t see that changing with Microsoft’s purchase of LinkedIn — leaving plenty of room for businesses like hers.
“I think this acquisition is a great thing for the industry — it validates the core role that HR has,” Minshew says. ” Companies are starting to realize that products and platforms in the human-capital space have a much broader impact.”
Muse, with 50 million site visitors annually, serves a diverse population of workers with an average age of 29, and 60 percent female. Those people, she says, may keep their resume on LinkedIn, but The Muse “is where their heart is.”
“I don’t know that the human-capital space is ever meant to have a single winner-take-all,” Minshew says. “There’s a lot of room for those who want to take a different approach.”
If you’ve become accustomed to having job candidates jump through hoops in order to land positions at your organization, then you might want to brace yourself for change: Candidates are simply less willing to put up with lengthy application procedures and cumbersome hiring processes than in years past.
That’s one of the major findings from CareerBuilder’s 2016 Candidate Behavior study, which is based on surveys of more than 4,500 workers and 1,500 hiring managers. The study shows that employers are continuing to struggle: Although 76 percent of full-time, employed workers are either looking for a new position or are open to new opportunities, nearly half of employers (48 percent) say they’re unable to fill job vacancies.
In today’s market, companies need to present their best faces to candidates. “It’s important to remember that the candidate experience starts from the very first click and can impact how effectively a company is able to recruit quality candidates, the popularity of its employer brand, the strength and quality of its referrals, and even the bottom line,” says Rosemary Haefner, CareerBuilder’s VP of HR.
Candidates are more quicker to walk away from applications that are too cumbersome, with one in five telling CareerBuilder they are not willing to complete an application that takes them 20 minutes or more, while 76 percent want to know how long it will take them to finish an application before it starts. However, the majority say they’d be willing to endure a lengthy application process if the company is offering a higher base salary.
Candidates are also less willing to wait around: 66 percent said they’re willing to wait less than two weeks to hear back from an employer before considering the opportunity a “lost cause” and moving on to another. HR must also ensure that information on the company is easy to find, with 37 percent of candidates saying they’ll move on to the next opportunity if they can’t find the information they need on the company.
Candidates also want to see more information in the job description: 74 percent want to know the salary, 61 percent want to see the total benefits package, 46 percent want to see employee ratings, 40 percent want contact information for the hiring manager and 39 percent want information on work-from-home options. They also want to see how the company provides work/life balance (35 percent), photos/video of the work environment (31 percent), team structure and hierarchy of the role (27 percent) and how many people applied for the job (25 percent).
Some interesting points about employer value propositions and employer brands in this recent piece by Susan LaMotte that I came across on the HR Examiner website.
As her title makes clear, she’d like us all to start Rethinking EVP and Employer Brand Like You Never Have Before.
“We tweet, post and chat about our culture and employment experience,” she writes. “We worry about job descriptions and [applicant-tracking-system] branding. We choose just the right images for our careers site and collateral. But what exactly are we talking about?”
Here are some of her favorite descriptions, none of which really capture what makes any particular employer unique: “It’s a great place to work,” “We’ve got a great culture,” “For me it means … ,” and “I love to work here because … .” As she puts it,
“We tend to talk in generalities and personal choices because we’re not sure what else to say sometimes. And that’s where the EVP comes in. EVPs are so often used to explain why employees work for a company. We often interchange it with employer brand. But over the years, it’s become a muddled mess. Maybe it’s time for a reset?”
First, she says, when you ask your employees what they value in their employment experience, your EVP is the sum of those common themes. Second, an employer brand is a subset of the EVP.
“If the EVP is all the things employees value,” according to LaMotte, “the employer brand is what you choose as an organization to hang your hat on when you market your employment experience.” As she describes it:
“Think about it like a new car. There are a ton of great things customers may value in the car. And things the car’s engineers think are worth touting. But the marketers at the car company know you can’t sell everything. So they have to choose. How do they choose? The same way the engineers decided what should go in the car: research. Let research be your base, then use marketing to sell.”
She goes on to lay out the best steps to take to find out what employees value most in the organization and what candidates want. Next on the list is narrowing the focus, she says:
“There are likely 10, 12, 20 themes that may comprise your EVP. Don’t try to sell a laundry list. Use your company’s core values and business strategy to narrow down your focus. And consider two key things marketers know well: You have to sell the reality [and] you have to consider what your audience wants.”
“Finally, build that brand. Once you decide what to hang your hat on, sell it over and over and over again. Weave the messages in varying ways through all those channels you’ve spent so much time on — social media, websites, job descriptions and branded platforms. Pull those messages through to job fairs, recruiter conversations and on campus. Whatever you do, just take the time to think it through.”
I ran LaMotte’s premise by the folks at the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp), the Seattle-based human capital research and data firm, because much has come from that organization over the years pertaining to employer brand and EVP. Got some interesting and very thorough comments from Jay Jamrog, i4cp’s senior vice president of research:
LaMotte, he says, “correctly points out that there is a lot of confusion around the differences between employer brand, employee [and employer] value proposition and talent brand; and, they are often used interchangeably, as the article does when it trie[s] to articulate what needs to be done.”
So what does Jamrog suggest? “I believe the first step is to clearly define each term and then determine how to develop a strategy to leverage each one’s potential.” With that in mind, he says, here goes:
Employer brand: How a business builds and packages its identity, origins and values, and what it promises to deliver to emotionally connect employees so that they, in turn, deliver what the business promises to customers. Some of the ingredients that make up the employer brand are:
Company culture and history,
What a company stands for,
Rewards: compensation and benefits
Leadership and employee behaviors
What to consider when developing an employer brand:
What employer brand you have already built?
How does your employer brand support your business strategy, and your talent strategy?
How well do your employees understand and believe in your customer brand?
How committed are your employees to deliver the brand to customers?
Employee [or employer] value proposition: Articulation of the value proposition is a shorter version of the employer brand that helps potential and current workers answer the question, ‘What’s in it for me?’ In many cases, the EVP is part of the employer brand and contains many of the same characteristics.
Talent brand: Marketing of the employer brand and/or EVP to critical talent segments of the potential and current workforce, to become known as a magnet for talent. It’s purpose is to create demand that attracts, retains and engages the right people to do the right work at the right time with the right results. To do this, you need to segment the workforce and determine which roles are 1) critical to the business’ success and 2) difficult skills to acquire. Then you need to treat the talent in these critical roles as “consumers of work.” To attract consumers of work, you need a compelling brand proposition as a place to work for that special critical role/skill.
To create a talent brand you need to:
Have a talent strategy,
Develop marketing strategy,
Segment the workforce, and
Articulate your employer brand.
There you have it. Lots of definitions, descriptions and bullets in this post, but just in case it helps … or at least adds to the discussion … it’s all yours.
According to the article, Ford Motor is reportedly looking to invest more than $1 billion into making its workplace a lot cooler.
The piece called into mind last year’s General Electric commercial, in which the main character, Owen, is surprised by friends with a cake, balloons and noisemakers. Why? Because they heard he had landed a job as a software developer. When he explains he’s going to be working for General Electric writing code for trains and planes, however, his friends seem confused, with one saying, “You mean you’re going to work on a train?”
It’s a clever commercial (a favorite of mine, I might add) that successfully gets across the point that GE in no longer just an industrial powerhouse, but rather an organization that’s increasingly depending on technological innovation to drive its businesses.
Nor is GE alone in that regard. Automakers such as Ford are also realizing they’re competing in a very different business environment today.
As Doron Levin writes in Forbes’ piece, “The No. 2 U.S. automaker has been saying that it believes digital companies like Uber Inc. and Good could overturn auto making unless it can create mobility products and services instead of just cars and trucks.”
Ford, in response, is now committed to revamping its workplace in order to make it an attractive place to work and, as the Ford press release puts it, “foster innovation and help drive the company’s transition to an auto and a mobility company.”
According to the release, the 10-year transformation of the company’s 60-plus-year-old Dearborn facilities will co-locate 30,000 employees from 70 buildings into primarily two locations—a product campus and a world headquarters campus. More than 7.5 million square feet of workspace will be rebuilt and upgraded into even more technology-enabled and connected facilities.
Changes include “a walkable community with paths, trails and covered walkways,” a new design center, autonomous vehicles, on-demand shuttles, e-bikes, new on-site employee services, wireless connectivity speeds that are up to 10 times faster than today, and more green spaces.
A second campus location—around the current Ford World Headquarters building—will feature “a new Ford Credit facility and provide on-site employee services, improved connectivity and enhanced accessibility to the expansive green space that surrounds the building.”
As Ford President and CEO Mark Fields notes, “As we transition to an auto and a mobility company, we’re investing in our people and the tools they use to deliver our vision. Bringing our teams together in an open, collaborative environment will make our employees’ lives better, speed decision making and deliver results for both our core and emerging businesses.”
It’s just one more example of how new business models, including those coming out of Silicon Valley, are increasingly borrowing from the Silicon Valley playbook and are beginning to think differently about their workplaces.
Think different? Now wouldn’t that make a nice ad slogan for someone.
OK, this baby boomer officially feels old now. I was just informed by Paul Magnus — vice president of workforce development for Akron, Ohio-based Mature Services — that “mature” actually refers to 40 and older.
I was asking him to elaborate on his organization’s 26th Annual Mature Workers’ Job & Career Fair, coming up on Tuesday, April 12, at the Akron Fairlawn Hilton, designed “to help the 40-and-older population find employment,” as its release states.
Shocked as I was by that clause, Magnus pointed out that the oldest of the “Gen Xers [those born from the early 1960s to the early 1980s] started turning 52 in February 2016.” (Stop the world, I want to get off!)
But whether they’re 40 or 52 or on up into baby-boomer territory, he says, “we advocate for all older workers” and the extensive experience, skills and work ethic they bring to the workplace.
If you consider baby boomers alone, he adds, they possess the “highest level of intelligence and institutional knowledge, highest motivation factor and highest skill set of any demographic that has come through the workforce to date.”
Though many are staying in the full-time workforce out of necessity, a growing share are just heading into retirement age and are trying to “reinvent their lives,” be it through a mentor or tutor role or a part-time consultant’s role, says Magnus, whose agency helps those people achieve their desired situations as well.
In all work situations, says Don Zirkle, Mature Services’ training and placement supervisor, “[o]lder workers bring to the job commitment, experience and the ability to work as part of a team.” Older workers, he adds, have “adapted to technology as well.”
“These are traits that all employers are looking for in a new hire,” Zirkle says.
Unfortunately, far too many employers are still disregarding senior job candidates, especially those who have been long-term unemployed — a problem we’ve certainly written about on this site and on HREOnline.com.
“Many older workers have gotten trapped in that long-term-unemployment racket,” Magnus says. “We’re seeing that individuals who are not working aren’t getting the calls back. The longer they’re unemployed, the longer they’ll remain unemployed.”
Also on the unfortunate side, many baby boomers, when they started working, “didn’t necessarily need a degree for all the positions that were open to them,” he says. “Now, students are coming out of college with certificates and degrees for those same jobs,” and older workers trying to compete find themselves way behind the eight ball.
Through numerous programs run by his organization, including the U.S. Department of Labor-funded Senior Community Service Employment Program, which most other states also run, seniors are getting pointers and guidance in educational opportunities, job-hunting and skills training, and even tips on best ways to use social media, which many — surprisingly — aren’t that well-versed in, he says.
Times have changed, he adds, and seniors need to change with them.
I asked Magnus to describe the challenges and changes he’s seen in his 31 years with Mature Services.
The biggest difference he’s noticed over time, he said, is that everyone now has a different idea about what retirement means, from semi-corporate retirement to at-home part-time consultancies, and his agency is there to adjust to the changes, and guide and advocate for all older workers in his corner of the world — i.e., the Akron and surrounding areas.
“I remember starting this job when I was 28 years old,” Magnus says. “I remember walking up to a senior group of men and asking them if they would be interested in the recruiting help my agency had to offer, and they just laughed at me and said, ‘Why would I want to work when I’m retired?’ ” So at least that’s changed.
Second to that, he says, is that a growing number of employers are starting to see the value older workers, in any capacity, can bring to the workforce.
Though many still “do get bogged down in the older-worker perceptions that aren’t based on reality [like they can’t perform or produce like they once could, or they simply don’t want to be there], many others aren’t getting that hung up on age anymore.”
Since the Great Recession began and even afterward, state and municipal governments have been slashing their payrolls, implementing mandatory unpaid leave for employees and cutting back on once-generous health and retirement benefits. Now the after-effects of those cutbacks appear to be coming home to roost, a new survey finds.
Ninety percent of state and local government employees from all 50 states and the District of Columbia consider human capital issues to be a challenge for their organization, according to a nationwide survey from the Government Business Council and Route Fifty, a digital business-to-business publication from the publisher of Government Executive. Only 41 percent of the 928 individuals surveyed (more than half of whom hold executive-level roles) believe their organization is prepared for the looming baby boomer retirements. And just 40 percent indicate their organization is competitive with the private sector in its ability to recruit and hire talent.
That last item seems to weigh heavily on the minds of public-sector leaders these days, and for good reason. The generous pension benefits commonly associated with public-sector jobs do not appear to have the same lure for today’s younger candidates than in the past, according to the Pew Charitable Trust’s 2014 Recruiting and Retaining Public Sector Workers study, which is based on interviews with state HR officers.
As Sara Walker, director of the West Virginia Division of Personnel, explained:
“People who have been with the state are invested in being state employees and being able to retire from the system. They understand what’s waiting for them. But the generation that’s coming in—I don’t know that the pension plan would retain them because they’re mobile. They’re going to move. We’ll have to figure out how to have continuity of services with a generation that is a revolving door.”
Eugene Moser, former director of the New Mexico State Personnel Office, noted that younger workers tend to move much faster between jobs than the previous generation. For mobile workers like these, traditional pensions based on years of service obviously hold less appeal.
Lee-Ann Easton, administrator of the Nevada Division of Human Resource Management, said younger workers have different work-related priorities: “We are finding that the younger generation who grew up on technology wants more flexibility in their careers such as flexible hours and the option to telecommute. Pay is always a factor as well, but flexibility and telecommuting appear to be gaining in job satisfaction above retirement benefits.”