Employers Checking Your Social Media, But Will It Hurt Your Chances?

For this year’s crop of college graduates, the use of social media is second nature.  However, will these grads’ comfort with sharing their lives on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram come back to haunt them as they search for their first job?  Not necessarily, according to one new survey.

In a poll of 100 human resources executives, 60 percent confirmed that they either always or sometimes check candidates’ social media activity, but only 6 percent said that activity has a significant impact on their hiring decision.

Read the full report here.

Advertisements

New Survey Finds Obstacles To Post-Recession Job Creation

A new survey of human resources executives provides further evidence of just how difficult it is in a non-manufacturing-based economy to quickly increase employment following a downturn and why it could be another year or more for the unemployment rate to fall to pre-recession levels.

In the survey conducted by global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., just over half (53 percent) of the human resources executives polled said their companies implemented workforce reductions as a result of the recession that began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009.  The good news is that 82 percent of companies have added new workers since January 2010.  However, while 33 percent of those hiring were able to bring back some of their former workers, 67 percent indicated that the re-staffing process started from scratch.

Meanwhile, less than half (43 percent) of the companies adding new workers have reached or surpassed the number of workers employed prior to workforce reductions.  Nearly 15 percent said they expect to eventually return to pre-layoff workforce levels. However, 43 percent indicated that their companies will meet future demand with fewer employees, suggesting that their payrolls will never return to pre-recession peaks.

“What we have come to know as ‘the jobless recovery’ may be the new post-recession norm, as employers rebuild their workforces from scratch, take more time to vet candidates, and find ways to operate with fewer workers,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Get the survey results here.

Challenger Survey: Most Companies Not Following Yahoo, Best Buy

When struggling big box retailer Best Buy followed in the footsteps of Yahoo! Inc. by altering its telecommuting policies for employees, some undoubtedly concluded that there would soon be a flood of companies doing the same.  However, a new survey indicates that Best Buy may be in the minority, with the overwhelming percentage of companies planning to maintain their telecommuting policies.

According to the survey, 80 percent of the 120 human resources executives polled said their companies currently offer some form of telecommuting option to employees with 97 percent of them saying there are no plans to eliminate that benefit.

The survey was conducted by global outplacement and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. in the days following Yahoo’s widely reported and controversial plan to bring work-at-home employees back to the office.

“When major companies like Yahoo and Best Buy make notable policy changes, there is no doubt that other employers will take notice and some may even re-evaluate their policies.  However, it would be misguided to assume that other companies will follow blindly without considering their own unique circumstances,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Get the full report here.

ATTENTION HR EXECS: Challenger Retention Survey

Challenger is conducting research on retention and would appreciate any insight you may have.

Click here to take survey

2010 Call-In Survey Results

Job Seekers Frustrated, Uncertain About Job Prospects

IN SURVEY, NEARLY HALF OUT OF WORK FOR MORE THAN A YEAR

The job market made marginal improvements in 2010, but large numbers of job seekers were left out in the cold with many experiencing prolonged unemployment lasting six months or more. This fact was on display during the job-search advice call-in conducted last week by global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., with nearly 40 percent of all callers reporting that they have been out of work for more than a year.

In a random sampling of 400 callers, just over 80 percent were unemployed. Of those, 47.5 percent have been seeking employment for at least 12 months. The next largest group of jobless callers was the 19 percent who have been out of work for one to three months. Eighteen percent of the unemployed callers have been looking for four to six months.

Overall, more than 1,500 job seekers took advantage of the free advice offered during the two-day public service held December 27 and 28. This was the 25th job-search advice call-in conducted by Challenger.

The 80 percent of jobless callers was about the same level as a year ago. In 2008, 76 percent of callers were unemployed, while in 2007, only 55 percent of callers were out of work at the time of the call-in.

Despite prolonged unemployment, callers were slightly more optimistic than a year ago. Nearly one in five callers (18.4 percent) believed they would find a job in the next one to three months. Meanwhile, 21 percent felt they were with six months of finding employment. A year ago, only 12 percent thought they would find a job in three months, while another 12 percent thought a job could be found in four to six months.

Furthermore, only four percent of callers thought it would take another year or longer to find employment, down from nearly 16 percent of last year’s callers who thought it would take at least a year to find work.

While there was slightly more optimism than a year ago, the general feeling among callers was uncertainty. Nearly half (48 percent) did not know how much longer the job search would take, about the same as in 2009. Among those out of work for more than a year, the uncertainty was even more widespread, with nearly 60 percent saying they were not sure how long it would take to find employment.

“Obviously, there was a lot of frustration in callers’ voices this year. Not only were most of them out of work, many have been out of work for so long that they are losing confidence and hope. Our coaches’ primary objective was to restore some of that hope by providing some new strategies they could utilize to jump-start their job search,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

“Under the frustration, there was sense of optimism, with many feeling that 2011 would be a stronger year for the job market. And, that indeed should prove to be the case. Planned job cuts have slowed to the lowest levels we have seen since 2000. Private sector employment has experienced 11 consecutive months of net employment growth. And, companies are sitting on mountains of cash saved through two years of dramatic cost-cutting initiatives,” said Challenger.

“We expect private-sector hiring to continue to ramp up in 2011. However, this will not necessarily lead to an easier job search. In fact, it could be even more competitive. As hiring accelerates, two things will happen. First, people who abandoned their job search last year out of frustration will re-enter the labor pool as prospects improve. Second, people who are currently employed will start seeking greener pastures,” said Challenger.

“Additionally, while private sector employers are expected to increase hiring in 2011, government agencies at all levels – local, state and federal – are still feeling the impact of the recession and could be instituting massive job cuts to address significant budget deficits,” said Challenger.

Despite these challenges, Challenger said job seekers should not despair. At the moment, employers are adding just enough workers to replace people who retire, quit or let go for reasons other than cost-cutting. However, this number is not insignificant. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employers hired an average of 4.3 million workers each month between May and October.

“There are a lot of things people can do to improve their chances of being among those four million new hires. The one thing they should not do is simply sit at a computer all day, responding to online job ads,” Challenger advised.

“Answering ads is just one part of the job search; and it is probably the least effective. Classified ads, whether online or in the newspaper, represent a small fraction of the available jobs out there – perhaps as small as 20 percent. The hidden job market, representing as much as 80 percent of the available jobs, can only be accessed through aggressive networking, cold-calling and persistence,” said Challenger.

The hidden job market is the hardest to uncover, a frustration felt by many callers, 36 percent of whom said the most difficult part of the job search is finding openings. In the same vein, another 31 percent said the biggest challenge is getting interviews.

“A big part of a successful job search is being in the right place, at the right time. To do this, you have to cast the widest net possible. Your network should include friends, family, former business associates, former college professors, fellow college alumni, etc. You basically need to broadcast to your entire universe of acquaintances that you are looking for a job,” said Challenger.

“We strongly urge job seekers to take advantage of social networking sites like Facebook or professional networking sites, such as LinkedIn. Even if you can only add 10 people at first, those 10 people are each going to know at least 10 more people who know 10 more people. You might just be two links away from someone who can get you in the door for an interview,” he concluded.

BEST & WORST JOB SEARCH TOOLS

Hiring authorities have spoken and they agree; networking is the most valuable tool in the job seeker’s arsenal.  The least effective process for finding a job: attending job fairs.

In a new survey that asked human resources executives to rate the effectiveness of various job-search methods on a scale of 1 (least effective) to 5 (most effective), networking averaged a 3.98.  About half (48 percent) of the respondents gave networking the highest effectiveness rating of five.

The survey findings were released Monday by global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., which conducted the poll the first week of August via e-mail.

The second most effective job-search tool available is a relatively new one.  Social/professional networking sites, such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, garnered an average rating of 3.3, with 47 percent of respondents giving it a rating of four or five.

Meanwhile, job fairs ranked as the least effective job-search method, scoring an average rating of 1.6.  It was followed closely by responding to newspaper classified ads and sending resumes to employers, which each averaged 1.7 on the rating scale.

Job fairs are particularly ineffective in recessions.  They are heavily attended by job seekers and lightly attended by employers.  Many of the employers that do attend are seeking very low-level workers, volunteers or unpaid sales representatives/franchisees who would have to be prodigious sellers to make a living wage.

And, while job seekers do get to interact with a representative of the company at the job fair, it hardly qualifies as networking.  The employer representative is rarely a decision maker and simply there to administer and collect applications.

Survey respondents gave Internet job boards relatively high marks.  It averaged a middle-of-the-road rating of 3.0, but 38 percent of respondents gave it a 4.0.

While the Internet has the potential to be very useful for job seekers, Challenger said that it has become the primary tool for many, when it should be considered secondary to the traditional technique of networking and meeting prospective employers in person.

surveyIt is important to remember that the job search is a multifaceted process.  Those who rely on just one tool, even if it is networking, will take longer to find a position.  The problem with the ease and accessibility of the Internet is that many job seekers make it their primary job search tool.

Overuse of the Internet also threatens to prolong the hiring process on the employer’s end, as well, by inundating employers with irrelevant resumes.  Some human resource executives complain that for every qualified candidate that comes in from the Internet, there are 10 to 20 who do not even come close to being a good fit.

The more irrelevant resumes that hiring managers have to wade through in order to select the handful to bring in for interviews, the longer it takes to fill the position.  One result of this has been the increased use of digital screening software that scans incoming resumes for keywords.  Resumes without the right words are filtered out of the process.  This will make it even more difficult for job seekers to get their resume in front of the hiring executive.

This is not to say that the Internet has not revolutionized job searching.  It has certainly made it easier for someone in San Francisco, for example, to search for job openings in Miami.  In addition, the ability to conduct keyword searches has reduced the amount of time it takes to target the type of position a person is seeking.

Job seekers must learn how to use all of the tools at their disposal, including networking, the Internet, newspapers, job fairs and even cold-calling employers.