Posted by Paul McDonald on Friday, January 9, 2015 - 07:54 | Follow me
The December jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistic finds that 252,000 jobs were added in the final month of 2014. That caps a very successful year for the U.S. economy. Here’s what the numbers mean for both employers and job seekers.
2014 ended on a strong note when it came to hiring. Employers added 252,000 jobs in December, according to the monthly jobs report released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Adding to the positive news, November’s already impressive hiring report of 321,000 new jobs was revised upward to 353,000; October was revised up, as well, by 18,000 jobs. That means a total of 2.95 million jobs were added over the past 12 months, making 2014 the best year for job growth since 1999.
Here are some additional highlights from the December jobs report:
- The overall unemployment rate dropped to 5.6 percent, the lowest level since June 2008.
- The unemployment rate for college-degreed workers 25 and older dropped to 2.9 percent.
- The professional and business services sector once again led the way in job gains, adding 52,000 in December.
- The economy has now added at least 200,000 jobs for 11 straight months.
Other data support the December jobs report. In a new survey by the Wall Street Journal and Vistage International, 80 percent of small business owners said they anticipate better sales in 2015. And they are adding staff in preparation. The economy feels “more solid,” said a small business owner who plans to hire at least two new workers this year, as quoted in the Journal.
I certainly have no crystal ball, but I do think we’ll see continued momentum in 2015. Here is some advice for both employers and job seekers on how and why to move swiftly to gain an edge on the competition:
Employers, audit your hiring plan
In my post about the October jobs report, I talked about the importance of making a hiring plan. Now that it’s January, review your plan and look for ways to improve it.
Your goal is to have a hiring process that allows you to move quickly in identifying and hiring top talent. It’s a more candidate-driven market today. Professionals with in-demand skills simply do not remain available for very long. Companies that drag their feet will lose out.
Unfortunately, many managers get stuck in a routine. They follow the same hiring procedure as they always have. But today’s hiring environment is very different from the environment of just one or two years ago, and what worked then may not work now.
Here are four easy ways to streamline the hiring process:
- Write a solid job description. According to a survey from OfficeTeam, 97 percent of HR managers said accurate job descriptions are important when recruiting. A job description that clearly describes the position and outlines the qualifications ideal candidates must possess will help reduce the number of resumes you receive from underqualified applicants.
- Review resumes yourself. Let’s be honest, resume evaluation is time-consuming and tedious. It’s tempting to speed through this step of the hiring process or delegate it to someone else. Resist the urge. As the hiring manager, you’re best able to determine if a candidate’s qualifications meet your needs, as well as spot diamonds in the rough.
- Incorporate phone and video interviews. Phone interviews and video interviews can be invaluable in narrowing the list of professionals you meet in person, especially if you’re on the fence about a particular candidate. Whenever possible, I’d recommend opting for a video interview. The reason: You can better gauge the job seeker’s personality, business acumen and potential fit with your firm’s corporate culture. And that can help you decide more quickly if it’s worth moving the person to the next round. Best of all, it’s relatively easy for you and the candidate to block off 15 or 20 minutes for a quick conversation
- Ask the same questions every time. In order to effectively compare candidates, you need an objective standard on which to base your conclusions. A set of consistent interview questions gives you that foundation. Obviously, you should be flexible enough to include questions that address specific areas of each job seeker’s professional background and skills. But use the same core questions every time. Be sure anyone else involved in the interview does the same.
One word of warning: Streamlining the process doesn’t mean cutting corners. It’s still important that you thoroughly evaluate prospective hires by carefully reviewing resumes, conducting in-depth interviews and checking references. If you frantically speed through the hiring process or skip key stages, you risk bringing the wrong person on board. A Robert Half survey of more than 2,100 executives found that a bad hiring decision diminishes staff morale, in addition to wasting precious time and money.
Job seekers, don’t wait to submit your resume
If you’ve been thinking about exploring the job market, there’s no time like the present to jump in. The wind is clearly at your back. The recent jobs reports show that there is a lot of hiring happening across the board. Significant numbers of jobs are being added in almost every sector.
Hiring managers also have newly approved staffing budgets for 2015. They’re not going to wait to spend that money because they need help now.
Keep in mind that most job seekers typically ramp up their activity after the first of the year. The December jobs report will give them even more reason to start sending out resumes. The longer you wait to reach out to employers and recruiters, the more competition you are going to face.
So make your New Year’s resolution to update your resume, craft targeted cover letters and identify professional networking events to attend over the next few weeks. Great opportunities are available now; capitalize on them while you can!
Employers, Here Are Answers to Your Burning Questions About Recruitment (Accountemps blog)