Employment Strategies, The Hidden Workforce

Are you attracting the best employees to your workforce? Do you have a well developed plan to seek out and attract the highest caliber of prospective employees, and if so, are you overlooking a very large and growing source of quality recruits?

The number of articles appearing in the news in recent years alluding to the scarcity of qualified workers seems to grow every week. Companies are spending a significant amount of money trying to attract, hire, train and retain a quality workforce. They advertise in newspapers, hold job fairs, hire employment services, saturate the online job banks and canvas the universities, but are you neglecting a highly qualified and experienced pool of workers who are right in front of you?

As your business grows, creating new openings, and as older workers retire, it is getting harder and harder to attract those valued recruits. The competition is stiff and the temptation to switch employers grows as salaries and signing bonuses rise. It seems the pool of capable and experienced workers is shrinking, lengthening the recruitment periods, extending the time it takes to get a new hire up to speed, and increasing the percentage of employees who simply can’t perform to your expectations. But in fact, there is a qualified pool of employable workers out there, and they’re hiding in plain sight.

BEST KEPT SECRET

I’m talking about those workers out there over 40. They comprise a very large and highly skilled group of workers who are still capable of contributing in the workplace for many more years. They come from every field, every size company, every product line, and they’re looking for work. Unfortunately very few employers have a plan to attract and hire these individuals. No one will admit it outright, but they actually have a strict tendency to avoid this resource altogether. You want workers with a strong ethic. You want loyal workers who will show up every day, on time, and contribute to the health of your organization. You want knowledgeable workers with a diverse background and a wealth of experience. You want workers who will hit the floor running and produce results from day one. Yet, you recruit the younger demographic who more often than not, are substantially lacking in many of these areas.

THE MYTHS

We all know the reasons: the older sector costs too much, they take too much time off, won’t learn new skills, don’t stay on the job that long, take too many sick days, and they are not that eager to accept change. These reasons, however, are myths in most cases and with a little planning; an older worker can be a valuable asset to your organization.

Most of these older workers have a long and well documented track record. It is a simple task to determine how well they have performed, if they have kept up to date with the latest technology, how they have contributed to the success of their previous employer, what their attendance record is, and what level of loyalty they possess. Yet we dismiss this evidence without much thought, compete aggressively for the younger worker, and grouse if they turn out to be less than what was expected.

Those older workers whom we believe can’t or won’t learn new skills know exactly what you think of them. They came to the realization a long time ago that in today’s competitive market, the need to keep up to date is paramount. Remember, they’ve been around a while, they’ve seen the days of working for the same employer until retirement go by the wayside, and they’ve seen their years of loyalty and hard work rewarded with forced retirements and meager raises. They’ve seen their picture of retirement fade into obscurity as today’s economy forces them to work farther into their �golden� years and they’ve accepted the fact that to make it to that ever moving finish line they will need to remain competitive in their field.

As for not staying on the job that long, statistics actually show that older workers remain on the job nearly twice as long as younger ones. The younger worker knows all too well that employers are competing fiercely for their skills. They too have come to realize that the day will come when they will be squeezed out of the workforce and have taken the attitude that loyalty is no guarantee for the future and, therefore, are always on the lookout for that �better� opportunity. All workers have become aware that they have much more leverage if they leave on their own, rather than waiting until they have been released, for whatever reason, and as a result today’s culture views job hopping as a perfectly acceptable means to furthering one’s career. So by hiring, or better yet, retaining that older worker you have effectively secured a loyal employee who knows it’s tough to find another good job at this point in life and is much more willing to do what it takes to stay on.

Attendance records are better for older workers than younger ones. Older workers have seen what poor attendance does to your chances for advancement. Time tends to make us creatures of habit, but one habit worth keeping is that of getting up in the morning and going to work. Older workers have been doing it for years and tend to do it without forethought.

Probably the most common barrier to hiring the older worker is the mindset that older workers are too rigid in their ways and aren’t willing or capable of adapting. The older worker has been on the job for long time and as a result has seen many new approaches come and go, they’ve seen them succeed and they’ve seen them fail. Because they’ve seen many of these failures they often will be more likely to question the validity of change, but don’t forget, they’ve seen what works as well. They are not rigid because they reject change outright, but are merely skeptical of the reasoning involved. They can accept change as readily as younger workers, provided the grounds for change are valid and explained. The irony is that we want our staff to use good judgment and to continually look for possible pitfalls and strive to prevent them from occurring, yet when they question our rationale, we label them rigid or unwilling to change. By keeping older workers involved and informed, as we should do with all our employees, they will not only be more flexible, but can be willing agents of change.

It is true that more vacation time, pensions, and health care in some instances is more costly for older workers, but these costs are often offset by the lower turnover among this class. Conversely, the higher turnover of younger workers is realized in significant costs to recruit, hire and train them.

TAP INTO THAT RESOURCE

When hiring a younger worker you anticipate the negative possibilities that can arise if you don’t train, mentor, and manage them properly. In an effort to minimize this risk we have many programs in place to grow these workers into experienced reliable team players. Why shouldn’t we afford our aging workers the same attention? Instead of looking for reasons to replace them, we should be finding ways to hire and keep them.

If hiring on an older worker still seems too risky, take advantage of those low risk or nonbinding hiring options. By using an employment agency you can easily �try out� prospective employees. These agencies will do all the leg work for you from background and reference checks to interviewing and salary negotiations. If you are not satisfied, you are not obligated to keep them on, simply have the agency find you another and try that recruit for a while. This option not only gives you an out, but removes the direct burden of vacation, healthcare, pension and other benefit costs.

Another great option is the myriad of independent consulting firms in your area. A large percentage of these companies can provide tailor made support and services at reasonable costs. Again, like the employment agencies, these contracted services are a write off, allow you to discontinue the services if you are not satisfied and remove the training and benefit costs associated with direct hires.

Educating Engineering Consultants

In recent years there has been a shortage of highly qualified engineers available to fill positions in expanding companies, and an even bigger lack in qualified consultants in the industry. This has prompted a rise in courses on offer from Universities to applicants who have successfully worked their way through college and want to enter the world of engineering consultancy. Before such a position can be attained however, the studious individual will have to gain specialist knowledge in a chosen area, and experience the relevant working environment to fully appreciate the intricacies involved in such a discipline.

The role of an engineering consultant is many and varied and offers an opportunity to work in just about any sector that is of interest. Deciding to undertake a degree in engineering is the first step towards becoming an engineering consultant, and as the course progresses you will become more attuned to a discipline within engineering to which you are suited. Typically, university courses offer progression within mechanical, aeronautical, construction, chemical, automotive, electrical, environmental, naval and nuclear engineering programmes.

As can be expected, many of these disciplines cross over, which only adds to the wealth of information that could be called upon once a qualification has been attained. The working world of the engineering consultant can involve working independently for a consulting company, research department within an educational environment or being a consultant in a specialist department within a company. Becoming a chartered engineer will enable an engineering consultant to work on some of the world\’s most famed engineering projects.

Being a consultant requires excellent communication skills as well as outstanding technical skills. The job often requires a large proportion of project management, which means liaising with many people from different companies and within many departments. Managerial skills are essential as each job will require appointing teams to work on the project and managing contractors. The key feature of the job is to amalgamate a wide variety of skills successfully and demonstrate the ability to differentiate between vital and trivial aspects of the job and prioritise accordingly.

A career in Engineering Consultancy can be a rewarding and challenging experience, and can involve travelling around the world to work on international projects. The successful consultant will find that their skills are in demand worldwide, and that there are no limits to the type of work on offer. Some projects for example could involve designing, testing and constructing a geothermal power plant.

Although many years of study go into becoming qualified as an engineering consultant, it cannot be ignored that experience on the job is priceless. With each new contract, the consultant learns from successes as well as failings to build up practical experience that cannot be superseded by textbook knowledge. After a few years working in the engineering industry, a consultant could expect to see a salary hike from around 20000 GBP to 50000 GBP if they have attained a Chartership through further study with combined work experience.

The consultant will be expected to be able to advise on the correct procedure from start to finish, and problem solve from beginning to end too. Being able to perceive the bigger picture enables the consultant to coordinate the tasks that need completing to get a project finished on time. Ultimately, choosing to embark on a career as an Engineering consultant takes dedication and a focused attitude as well as a good education.

Assessing The True Value Of Your Job Offer

You’re a college student recently having gone through the exciting process of how to find a job or college internship: interviewing, traveling, interviewing some more, and finally all the hard work has paid off with a job offer!

People often receive more than one offer, and a lot of times they look only at the basic salary to compare them. Sadly, by doing this, they may be missing out on a lot of other forms of compensation that may be available, ultimately missing out on a better offer that was on the table.

I hope to use this article to show you how to find the hidden values in an offer, and how to assess the various components of an offer. Hopefully you can avoid the trap of mistakenly passing up a fantastic offer just because the basic salary was a few dollars less than another offer!

Let’s start by looking at what the basic sources of compensation from an offer are:

Basic Salary — Everyone looks at this first, and rightfully so. This is your take-home every month and is the bulk of your compensation. Some companies look to this exclusively to attract people. Recently, the “big oil” companies have been ramping up their base salary for engineers, causing other companies to put their arms up in wonder. However, don’t get discouraged (or excited) just off ofyour base salary alone, you must consider the whole picture!

Signing Bonus — These are becoming more and more popular as a way to entice people to work for a company. These can be anywhere from $1,000 all the way up to $25,000 or more! (I just heard the other day of a girl getting a $24,000 signing bonus for a major oil service company!). A lot of times, companies would rather give you a larger signing bonus than a higher basic salary, so watch out for that trap too. Think about it, would you rather have $3,000 in your pocket today, or $1,500 more in your salary each year? If you can, take the salary increase, it will pay off tenfold in the long run.

Health Care — This includes not only health coverage, but dental, life insurance, vision, etc. Look carefully at these, not all companies are equal in what they provide!

Other benefits that can be extremely undervalued:

Performance Bonuses — Pay for performance is an extremely useful company tool, but it’s application is hit or miss. Depending on the job, this could be huge ‘ some sales jobs are all commission based, whereas other jobs (pure engineering) are functional and therefore performance is harder to measure, so a bonus can be as small as a few hundred dollars just because the company did well. Either way, make sure you are clear on what the expectations and resulting payouts could be for the offer you are looking at.

Free on-site gym — These can be worth at least $150 per year, not including any special courses (think Yoga, Dance, Pilates, etc). They also save you on gas and time it takes to travel to an off-site gym, so consider that too.

401k Matching — Almost every company matches your contributions to a retirement plan, but not every company matches equally. (A quick lesson on 401k plans in case you haven’t heard of them before: a 401k plan is a pre-tax contribution you make to an account that you can then invest in a number of different ways. The money you accrue goes with you when you change jobs, and when you retire, you start withdrawing it to live off of). The differences you will find between companies are in the amount they will match, some will match nothing, some up to 15% (i.e. if you contribute 6% of your salary each year, they will “match” your contribution by contributing 6% as well, making your contribution a total of 12%). Obviously, the higher the match, the more money you will end up with in the end. However, don’t be discouraged by a company that doesn’t offer a very high match, as they may also have a company pension plan to supplement the 401k plan. These pensions are usually based on years of service to the company; the longer you work there, the higher the eventual payment. The downside is that in today’s world, not many people are staying with the same company for 30+ years. I heard recently that the average stay at a company is now down to around 5 years. Keep this in mind when you weigh a pension plan to supplement a 401k.

Company-paid Car — My good friend Tom had a company car for the first 12 years of his career, and it really made the difference in his wealth building. You can roughly estimate that the value of the car is at least $350 per month, plus gas (about $100 per month), plus insurance (about $150 per month). Add all that up, and it’s a $600 value per month that you do not have to pay. Not only that, but the money you would spend on your vehicle is after-tax money, meaning that instead of it costing you $600 per month, it really costs closer to $900 per month. Add all that up, and it amounts to at least $10,800 per year. Imagine what you could do with that: save it, invest it, pay down student loans, buy yourself jewelry, go on a luxury trip to Hawaii. You can see why I say it’s underrated.

Company Discounts — Be sure to ask about these! Most companies have a deal with cell phone providers for a monthly discount on plans, usually 10-20%. Some companies have supplier-discount arrangements with automotive manufacturers, which amounts to getting cars at invoice prices (without having to negotiate!)—That allowed me to get a car for $21,000 including tax, license, etc, when MSRP on it was $24,500. Most companies give you a discount on their own products too. Other companies have an employee stock purchasing system, where you can purchase company stock at a reduced price (Think along the lines of a 30% discount or more!). This just scratches the surface of what might be available if you ask the question to your company recruiter.

Travel — With some jobs requiring traveling multiple weeks in a row, some companies allow you to fly anywhere you want over the weekend, provided the ticket cost is the same or less than it would be to fly home. This can mean a free company-paid vacation (without the hotel of course). Also included with high-travel jobs are the frequent flier miles and hotel points you accumulate. Several people in my company who travel significantly rarely have to pay for their hotels or flights when they go on personal vacations. Think about that, a near-free vacation!

Company Location — Clearly cost of living is what matters here. Locations like the east coast and southern California can require 10-20% more compensation to achieve the same standard of living that you can have elsewhere. More tangibly, a nice house in Houston, TX can be as inexpensive as $100,000. A comparable house in Los Angeles is $500,000. Can you afford the difference?

The list goes on, and you probably get the picture by now. The general idea when comparing multiple offers is that you really need to do your homework with companies before making a decision. Take the time to make the phone call or send the email to ask what benefits are available at that particular company. I can’t imagine a company that would not tell you what is offered, as they will be trying to create the most value to you that they can.

Top Career Web Sites For Children And Teens

Career assessments and tests help you explore who you. Career books and web sites give you a glimpse of the world of work. Free career information is available on web sites. Some writers have written facts for children and teens. We would like to share some information with you. These web sites use graphics, multimedia presentation, activities, and other techniques to expand our knowledge of careers. We have written information on seventeen (17) web sites. Here are the four different types of exploring careers web sites:

Curriculum
General Career Information
Science Career Clusters
Specific Science Careers

Curriculum Web Sites

Curriculum web sites provide activities, tests, guidelines, as well as career information.

Resource One: Career Cruiser
Source: Florida Department of Education

The Career Cruiser is a career exploration guidebook for middle school students. The Career Cruiser has self assessment activities to match personal interests to careers. The Career Cruiser has information on Holland Codes. Careers are grouped into 16 career clusters. The Career Cruiser has information on occupational descriptions, average earnings, and minimum educational level required for the job.

Teacher’s Guide is also available.

Resource Two: Elementary Core Career Connection
Source: Utah State Office of Education

The Core Career Connections is a collection of instructional activities, K to 6, and 7 to 8, designed by teachers, counselors, and parents. Each grade level has instructional activities that align directly with the Utah State Core. This instructional resource provides a framework for teachers, counselors, and parents to integrate career awareness with the elementary and middle level grade students.

Career Information Web Sites

Some web sites provide excellent career information. Some web sites list facts about job tasks, wages, career outlook, interests, education, and more.

Resource Three: Career Voyages
Source: U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Education

The Career Voyages web site is a Career Exploration web site for Elementary School students. The Career Voyages web site has information about the following industries:

Advanced Manufacturing
Automotive
Construction
Energy
Financial Services
Health Care
Hospitality
Information Technology
Retail
Transportation
Aerospace and the “BioGeoNano” Technologies

Resource Four: Career Ship
Source: New York State Department of Labor

Career Ship is a free online career exploration tool for middle and high school students.
Career Ship uses Holland Codes and the O*NET Career Exploration Tools. For each career, Career Ship provides the following information:

Tasks
Wages
Career outlook
Interests
Education
Knowledge
Skills
Similar careers

Career Ship is a product of Mapping Your Future, a public service web site providing career, college, financial aid, and financial literacy information and services.

RESOURCE FIVE: Career Zone
Source: New York State Department of Labor

Career Zone is a career exploration and planning system. Career Zone has an assessment activity that identifies Holland Codes. Career Zone provides information on 900 careers from the new O*NET Database, the latest labor market information from the NYS Department of Labor and interactive career portfolios for middle and high school students that connect to the NYS Education Department Career Plan initiative. Career Zone has links to college exploration and planning resources, 300 career videos, resume builder, reference list maker, and cover letter application.

Resource Six: Destination 2020
Source: Canada Career Consortium

Destination 2020 helps youth discover how everyday tasks can help them build skills they will need to face the many challenges of the workforce.

Skills are linked to:

School Subjects
Other School Activities
Play Activities At Home
Work at Home

Through quizzes, activities and articles, they might actually find some answers or, at least, a direction about their future. There are more than 200 profiles of real people who are describing what a day at work is like for them.

Resource Seven: What Do You Like
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Do You Like is the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Career web site for kids. The web site provides career information for students in Grades 4 to 8. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most of the material on the site has been adapted from the Bureau’s Occupational Outlook Handbook,a career guidance publication for adults and upper level high school students that describes the job duties, working conditions, training requirements, earnings levels, and employment prospects of hundreds of occupations. Careers are matched to interests and hobbies. In the Teacher’s Guide, there are twelve categories and their corresponding occupations.

Science Career Clusters

Some organizations have created web sites that feature science careers.

Resource Eight: EEK! Get a Job Environmental Education for Kids
Source: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Eek! Get a Job Environmental Education for Kids is an electronic magazine for kids in grades 4 to 8. Eek! Get a Job provides information about:

Forestry
Hydrogeologist
Engineering
Herpetologist
Park Ranger
Wildlife Biologist
Park Naturalist

There is a job description for each career, a list of job activities, suggested activities to begin exploring careers, and needed job skills.

Resource Nine: GetTech.org
Source: National Association of Manufacturers, Center for Workforce Success, U.S. Department of Commerce, and U.S Department of Labor

GetTech.org is a educational web site that provides CAREER EXPLORATION information. GetTech.org has information about the following industries:

New Manufacturing
Information Technology
Engineering and Industrial Technology
Biotechnology and Chemistry
Health and Medicine
Arts & Design

Within each area, there are examples of careers.

Each career profile gives:

General description
Salary
Number of people employed to job
Number of jobs available in the future
Place of work
Level of education required
Location of training programs: University Pharmacy Programs.
Courses needed

There is a GetTech.org Teacher’s Guide.

Resource Ten: LifeWorks
Source: National Institutes of Health, Office of Science Education

LifeWorks is a career exploration web site for middle and high school students. LifeWorks has information on more than 100 medical science and health careers. For each career, LifeWorks has the following information:

Title
Education required
Interest area
Median salary
True stories of people who do the different jobs

LifeWorks has a Career Finder that allows you to search by Name of Job, Interest Area, Education Required, or Salary.

Resource Eleven: San Diego Zoo Job Profiles for Kids
Source: San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo Job Profiles discussed jobs for people who:

Work with animals
Work with plants
Work with science and conservation
Work with people
Work that helps run the Zoo and Park

There are activities listed under each area, for example:

What we do
What is cool about this job
Job challenges
How this job helps animals
How to get a job like this
Practice Being a …
How to Become a …

Resource Twelve: Scientists in Action!
Source: U.S. Department of the Interior

Scientists in Action features summaries of the lives of people involved in careers in the natural sciences:

Mapping the planets
Sampling the ocean floor
Protecting wildlife
Forecasting volcanic eruptions

Resource Twelve: Want To Be a Scientist?
Source: Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of the Agriculture

Want To Be a Scientist is a career exploration web site for kids about 8 to 13 years old. Want To Be a Scientist has a series of job descriptions, stories, and other resources about what scientists do here at the ARS.

These stories include information about:

Plant Pathologist
Chemist
Soil Scientist
Entomologist
Animal Scientist
Microscopist
Plant Physiologist

Specific Science Careers

The last group of web sites is dedicated to providing information on specific science careers, for example veterinarians,

Resource Thirteen: About Veterinarians
Source: American Veterinary Medical Association

About Veterinarians has facts about:

What is a Veterinarian?
Becoming a Veterinarian
Making a Career Decision
What Personal Abilities Does a Veterinarian Need?
What Are the Pluses and Minuses of a Veterinary Career?
Veterinary Education
General Information
After Graduation From Veterinary School
General Information
School Statistics
Preparation Advice
Preveterinary Coursework
Where Most Schools Are Located
About School Accreditation
The Phases of Professional Study
The Clinical Curriculum
The Academic Experience
Roles of Veterinarians
Private Practice
Teaching and Research
Regulatory Medicine
Public Health
Uniformed Services
Private Industry
Employment Outlook
Employment Forecast
The Advantage of Specializing
Statistics
Greatest Potential Growth Areas
Other Professional Directions
AVMA Veterinary Career Center
Becoming a Veterinary Technician
Your Career in Veterinary Technology
Duties and Responsibilities
Career Opportunities
Education Required
Distance Learning
Salary
Professional Regulations
Organizations
Further Information