Photo: familymwr via flickr
Talk to any real estate broker, and you will hear the real estate market has always been local in nature in any market. Talk to parents or school board members, and you will hear that school policies are, and for the most part remain, local in nature.
Has the most realistic job search now become increasingly local too in today’s economy?
Fewer companies paying full relocation packages, except for top management, and the imploding housing market has increased job hunting as a “local only” possibility for many unemployed Americans including once more mobile professionals.
Companies have seen decreased revenue and profit due to the recession.
High unemployment rates in almost every city and state has increased the qualified available talent locally. In response, many companies are moving in the direction of only being willing to recruit locally.
In a corporate relocation survey conducted by Atlas World Group it was concluded, “When asked how market pressure impacted relocation, firms said relocations for entry level/new hire and middle management employees were more likely to see decreases than relocations for senior managers and executives.
About 4 out of 10 firms report decreasing relocations for the first two categories, while a little more than one-fourth decreased relocations for senior managers/executives.”
It has become more economical and efficient to eliminate relocation cost and time delays. A “local applicant only” restriction is being seen more and more in job postings as well as recruiters being requested to interview local only.
For companies still willing to consider paying relocation for out of area new employees or existing employee transfers, HR personnel have found employee resistance to relocation growing since 2008. Not being able to sell a home or adequately work out the inequitable mortgage balance and home value loss are the main reasons expressed for an objection to consider a move.
According to the American Society of Employers, “In a 2009 survey by relocation outsource Cartus, 79% of 179 companies polled said employees’ resistance to moving increased either somewhat or a great deal over the past year. Another 94% of those said that worries over selling an existing home were the main reason.”
The Atlas World Group survey found, “Six out of 10 national and international firms reported declined relocations in 2009 compared to only 42% of regional firms. Additionally, over a fourth of national and nearly a third of international firms experienced increases in declined relocations.” They also noted that housing/mortgage concerns made up 77% outpacing family issues/ties of 51%, “which had been the top issue cited since its addition to the survey in 1983.”
With these employment facts, job seekers may want to seek out employment resources with strong ties to the community and the local job market. Women At Work (WAW) is a unique private, non-profit job and career resource centre that has been serving in Southern California for over 30 years.
WAW is not a conventional employment agency or a placement firm. Some of the services they provide include individualized career counseling, a Resource Room, computer classes, resume instruction, various workshops, a Jobs Club, and support groups. Service fees are reasonable, and WAW works with those that need financial help.
Their model works because of WAW’s strong ties and partnerships with the local community. With long-standing employer relations, the centre’s Resource Room offers thousands of job leads.
As a successful leader in assisting the unemployed, they have been approached many times over the years to bring their local expertise and employer community partnership model to other major cities. WAW knows the time has come to explore these requests with the level of prolonged unemployment continuing into 2011.
The WAW success secret is simple. They build relationships in the local community and treat both employment partners and job seekers with respect. WAW is committed to everyone experiencing a benefit in working through them.
Executive Director Robin McCarthy leads WAW with expertise and sincerity providing clients with resources and connections to ensure success. Her enthusiasm and realism comes out in our interview:
BKH: What are the top trends you see in employment in today’s job market?
RM: We are seeing trends that have been here for a couple of years now:
1. Employers are slow to hire due to the slow economic recovery and their own uncertainty.
2. There are a larger number of part-time or hourly jobs out there. This is providing employers a chance to hire someone on a trial basis and not have to pay benefits, saving them costs.
3. Employers have the pick of the crop more now simply because there are more individuals looking for work.
4. Skill is still crucial. Technology needs are still very important. Not all of the unemployed have kept their skills up or learned new ones, particularly older employees who did not use computers daily.
BKH: What is different about today’s environment compared to previous higher unemployment times?
RM: Unlike past economic downturns, there is an increase in older employees who have been let go. Realistically employers feel, true or false, they are often more expensive to employ and provide benefits.
Men have taken a harder knock also, because often they have been employed longer with a higher salary. Jobs that are coming back also require tremendous new skills using technology.
We see more job announcements asking for Quick Books knowledge as an example.
BKH: Are you seeing discrimination of “just being unemployed” and ageism?
RM: It is indeed a challenge to move forward from unemployment, and the old adage is still true—it is easier to find a job when you have a job. This is why we encourage people to take a part-time job while looking for a full time job.
Ageism is definitely prevalent, because we see so many middle aged women who are looking for work, and they complain of not making the cut. Some are even afraid to list all of their jobs on their resume, because it shows their age.
BKH: What are the best ways to overcome this for job seekers?
RM: I still believe that much of the job hunt is about attitude. Staying current with new skills is important and showing you are up on the trends is a step forward. How do you handle a computer, are you on Linked In, do you dress for today’s market, can you show your abilities in networking? It all helps. Frankly too, we see those that take longer to move on, because they are grieving over the job they lost.
BKH: You are a non-profit. How else are you different than an employment agency?
RM: The services we provide are open to more people who cannot afford to pay the large sums collected by large employment or head hunting groups. We do more outreach into the community as well to let folks know about our services and how we can help. We also provide great service for a lower fee due to the funds we raise from grants. Our motto is…”We meet the client where they are at.”
BKH: WAW works with the community. How does this give your clients an advantage?
RM: WAW has more information about what is happening in the community due to our community partnerships. We strive to have knowledge about employers, new company and new store openings, and more opportunities. Because of our local community outreach and relationships, more people send us job announcements too.
BKH: What are the average demographics of your employment clients?
RM: Our average client is female, age 45-50, making less than $40,000/year. Twelve per cent of our cliental is male, and we do not turn anyone away. Right now though I have more high paying, well skilled jobs, than I do clients to match them.
BKH: How long does it take for your average client to find employment?
RM: The job hunt varies based on the individual and skill set of course. We are not a placement agency, but we help our clients greatly with confidence and motivation. The average client stays with us about 6-8 months. I have had clients find jobs within weeks, but some are looking for someone to hand them the job announcement. It is about self drive, and we support this.
BKH: What is your most popular class?
RM: Our most popular classes now are Excel for the computer and our job-related classes – interviewing and the many ways of finding a job. We also offer classes on becoming your own boss and starting your own business. These are growing in popularity.
BKH: Have you seen any improvement in employers hiring?
RM: We are definitely seeing more job announcements. We are receiving more than 100 jobs announcements each week. Our job data bank typically houses 4-500 jobs at a given time.
BKH: What is your best advice for those looking for a job right now?
RM: The best advice is to stay active – get out there, network, and even volunteer. It is a great way to meet someone. Share your story, and you never know where it might lead. We love volunteers who can help and look at the job announcements at the same time.
BKH: What are the top three skills employers are looking for today?
RM: Job hunters today need to possess a great attitude, and that starts with being positive. Yes, you may have lost a job, but many people have. Take time to grieve and move on. A smile and an upbeat attitude do help.
For skills I would focus on technology even if you are not computer proficient right now. Simply being able to demonstrate your acquaintance with certain programs is crucial. Excel and QuickBooks are basics now.
Multi-tasking is important, because many companies simply do not have a large number of employees to complete the needed tasks. If you can handle more than one assignment, you are a stronger candidate.
Believe it or not, I see too many candidates that cannot write nor follow directions. A strong writing ability is a true asset. So many jobs are available that call for writing skills, and individuals struggle to put pen to paper or answer the question. Plus, there are a multitude of jobs associated with writing.
And candidates should be sure to answer the question or complete the application thoroughly. Employers throw out applications, because they did not follow the directions.
I might add one more, but it may only be relevant in certain geographic areas, and that is being bi-lingual. In the market we are in, it is an asset and can also help the job-seeker to command a higher pay range.
BKH: Do you plan on expanding WAW to other states?
RM: Women At Work is looking for opportunities to expand its programs to other areas of the country because of the uniqueness of our service model and how we serve clients. We would be interested in establishing other sites or creating opportunities to work with others in replicating our model with direct input and direction from WAW. We have received several phone calls asking where the WAW office is locally from people in other cities.
I can see our staff playing a role in training and educating others about service delivery. Within the upcoming months we will be making our training available to companies, businesses and other groups. This will be available throughout the western states.
BKH: How can people work with WAW for expansion?
RM: The key to service expansion lies in partnerships. We are looking for opportunities to grow our programs by partnering with others and increasing awareness about who we are and what we provide.
If another organisation or group is looking for a strong partner in the job market to work with women, Women At Work would be interested in beginning that conversation. Following that would be the establishment of an office in their area with professional job developers and career counselors as well as instructors to provide training and skills enhancement programs.
BKH: Robin McCarthy can be contacted directly at 626-796-6870 or [email protected]
Comparing 2010 to 2009, WAW saw a 50% increase in client visits and an 82% increase in workshop attendance. The WAW local approach builds opportunity and strong community partnerships. After all, creating jobs or finding a job is all relative now to the health and prosperity of every local community, business, and citizen.
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