Hiring in 2015 ended on an upbeat note: December saw 292,000 workers added to payrolls, well above analysts' average estimates of 215,000. October and November saw jobs increase month-over-month and unemployment held at 5.0% through the quarter. Now that 2016 has begun, looking under the hood of that rosy picture reveals emerging trends that carry opportunity, challenge and peril for both job seekers and employers.
The 10 Toughest Jobs to Fill in 2016
What makes these jobs hard to fill? A variety of reasons such as government-projected talent shortages in each field, retirements due to an aging workforce and above-average employer demand. So here are the winners...
The Takeaway for Job Seekers
- If you are a candidate in any of these fields, you have a strong opportunity for multiple job offers and above-average earnings (if you land the job).
- As the number of graduates in these high-demand fields grow, so will the competition between applicants. Job candidates in these high-demand fields should ask themselves, "Does my resume promote my skills effectively?" Since recruiters spend as little as six seconds to decide if a resume is interview worthy, resumes for these tough-to-fill jobs must be crisp and identify directly applicable skills quickly and precisely. A resume that also effectively communicates translatable skills can you help beat out your competition (see "Takeaway for Employers and HR" below to understand why.)
The Takeaway for Employers and HR
- In markets where employers have difficultly finding the exact mix of skills needed for these in-demand jobs, it may be worthwhile for their HR and recruiters to maintain some flexibility: consider hiring candidates with translatable skills and doing in-house training to mold and develop their talents to meet your business needs. Done right and properly integrated into a positive and supportive corporate culture, the "translatable skills" approach can also enhance employee loyalty and retention.
- If filling these in-demand jobs will be tough, retaining the new hires will be even tougher: your competitors will try to steal them. HR should partner closely with Legal to ensure that employment agreements and related key documentation strikes the right balance by protecting human capital investments without making valued employees feel like a shackled commodity.
- With the number of millennials in the workforce poised to surpass baby boomers in 2016, it's quite possible that many of these hard-to-fill jobs will be won by millennials. Is your HR and your corporate culture ready? As an employer, do you and your HR know the top 3 things millennials around the world look for in a job? Has HR audited its policies and aligned company resources (benefits, compensation plans, etc,) with a corporate strategy for retention of millennials?
The Hottest Job Skills of 2016
LinkedIn analyzed the hottest job skills of 2015 and re-ranked them for 2016. The results below show the ranking is largely unchanged. Not surprisingly, "the hottest skills" align with at least 5 of the "10 Toughest Jobs to Fill" listed above. (Path to the full LinkedIn article appears at the end of this post).
The Takeaway for Job Seekers and Employers / HR
All the same takeaways we listed for the "10 Toughest Jobs" apply.
The Tech Sector: Hot or Not?
With so many of the "toughest-to-fill" jobs and "hottest skills" for 2016 relating to technology, you might think the tech sector is "where it's at"...but let's take a closer look:
- Compared to 2015, venture capitalist funding of tech start ups is plummeting.
- More and more tech companies are looking closely at their costs. That means cutting back on hiring, being more selective about hiring and in many cases, implementing layoffs. A sample of recent notable layoff activity:
- Mixpanel, a company specializing in data analytics company (yes, one of those "hot" skills" we just talked about) cut 20 jobs in January alone.
- Wearables firm Jawbone cut 15% of its staff and closed its New York office late last year.
- Makers of the very popular app Evernote cut 47 jobs and closed 3 offices last September.
The Takeaway for Job Seekers
- Don't presume that having in-demand skills or an in-demand job guarantees your employment. No matter what the skills or job, performance still matters and you can rest assured your employer is always looking at your performance.
- The more selective employer screening becomes through resume software and other practices, the more precise and compelling your resume has to be in order to properly communicate the skills and value you bring to the table. Whether it's s traditional resume or a LinkedIn profile, make sure your skills content is optimized to grab the attention of the employers you want to interview with.
- Do you homework: research the companies you apply to carefully and know how to tailor your resume cover letters accordingly. Review whatever information about their financial standing may be publicly available. Once you win an interview, be prepared to turn the tables and interview the perspective employer with a set of well-thought out questions that you've prepared beforehand.
The Takeaway for Job Seekers and Employers and HR
- Now more than ever, performance management is key if employers are to succeed in maximizing employee productivity and controlling costs.
- Your HR function has to be sufficiently adept to look beyond headcount costs and partner with management at all levels to develop and implement strategies for retaining talent and maximizing performance levels. There is a whole range of issues for HR to look at here: optimizing on-boarding and training, getting the most from the increasingly popular dynamic where more and more millennial managers are supervising experienced baby boomers and formulating creative strategies that help employees understand, embrace and achieve company objectives.
Wreck-It-Ralph Meets Your Retirement Fund
The good news: studies show more Americans are saving for retirement than 2 years ago. The bad news:
- There are signs economic growth is slowing. In the last couple of years, many of the 75 million baby boomers have stepped up their investments to catch-up their retirement portfolios. Projections of slower growth and market turbulence may cause them to cut back. Similarly, the 75 million millennial population, though more willing to invest in their retirement but often saddled with debt, may become more reluctant to spend, also hurting economic growth.
- The stock market has brutalized many investment portfolios thus far in 2016. It seems that almost every day that China sneezes, Wall Street catches a 200-400 point flu and major tech stocks are no longer the investment darlings they once were. To name just 2 of many major examples, Apple has recently become one of the biggest wealth destroyers in market history and Amazon stock saw a 16% drop earlier this year. Even with the market's latest rebound as of last Friday, January 22, 2016, it's still down about 7.6% overall for the year.
The Takeaway for Job Seekers
- Ongoing concerns over economic growth is likely to further sensitize employers to maximizing employee performance and cutting / controlling costs; for public companies, stock performance most certainly will sensitize them to these same concerns even more. When hiring does occur, the emphasis on quality candidates will pick up steam as employers get pickier and the time-to-fill requisitions increases.
- This economic and market turbulence translates into an opportunity where job seekers can win a place in the workforce by bringing their "A" game..as candidates with effective resumes that win them interviews and later as new hires whose performance establishes them as essential to the business no matter what the economic climate.
The Takeaway for Employers and HR
- Once again, creativity and flexibility on the part of your company's HR function is key.
- Employers are encouraged to closely examine existing 401(k) plans, giving special attention to the performance of their portfolios and administrative fees borne by your company and/or your employees.
- If you are a start-up company still developing your benefits package, give priority to evaluating and installing a quality retirement plan as one benefit of major importance to talented baby boomers and millennials in today's job market.
- In the case of millennials, consider creative solutions that can help attract and retain them, like making contributions to reduce any student loan debt.
We hope you enjoyed this post and encourage you to share it... and remember: if you are facing any of the challenges cited in this post as either a job seeker or a small-to-medium sized employer, PhoenixHR LLC has the skill and experience to help you today.
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