Category Archives: Job Search

Collecting Unemployment vs. Collecting a Paycheck

For the past several years the labor market has held many opportunities for workers in all fields and with all levels of skills and experience.  Often referred to as an “employee’s market”, since the end of the Great Recession companies have been hiring at a rapid pace and motivated workers could be selective about the jobs they chose.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the booming employment market has screeched to a near halt, where the only work available is for workers at essential businesses or those with jobs that are able to be performed remotely.  For many out of work, the solution has been receiving unemployment benefits.  With the CARES Act, weekly unemployment benefits were increased to assist families struggling with the financial impact of this crisis.

Making the decision to file a claim for unemployment benefits can be a difficult one for many people, even with the additional benefit included in the CARES Act.  But in the long run, benefits associated with choosing a job can outweigh the short-term gain of unemployment.  There are a few things everyone should consider regarding working vs. collecting unemployment.

  • Think big picture.  We have always stressed the importance of looking beyond today and thinking about  “the big picture.”  Envision what you want your career to look like in a few years, and how choices you make now might affect that vision.  Passing up an opportunity to work now could close some doors down the road that otherwise might have been open.
  • Beat the competition.  Everything must come to an end eventually.  That means not only will your unemployment benefits eventually end, but the current state of the economy will end too.  If you have ever searched for a job during a competitive labor market, you know how frustrating it can be to find a steady, well-paying job.  Right now there is less competition for the work that is available, so it’s a great time to start a new job.
  • A chance to stand out.  It is easy to imagine that in a few years many, many people will have a big gap on their resume that represents 2020, and it can be tempting to just fall in line with the majority.  But what about people that started a new job in 2020?  Those are definitely going to be the people that stand out.  Even if the job isn’t something long-term or the perfect fit with your prior experience, just the fact that you will be able to share how you spent 2020 differently than most people will definitely set you apart from the crowd.
  • New opportunities.  Essential businesses need workers now, so many positions that previously required experience are being opened up to entry-level employees.  If you’ve always wanted to reinvent your career, now could be the perfect chance. (And if you aren’t quite sure how your skills can be applied to something new, give us a call, we can help!)
  • Benefits.  Wages aren’t the only thing a weekly paycheck includes.  When you are working full-time your benefits may include paid time off, access to health benefits, and contributions to your retirement.  If you are able to retain any of these benefits while collecting unemployment the cost will certainly be higher.  In addition, any benefits that accrue and increase over time will be impacted while you are unemployed.  Other benefits, like healthcare and 401k contributions, are costly to maintain outside of full-time employment.

The COVID-19 pandemic has created tremendous turmoil and uncertainty for everyone.  The economic impact of the current conditions will be long-lasting and some businesses will never recover.  The labor market will likely be very different than it has been for the past few years, with more opportunities in some areas and less in others.  Decisions made now about work could affect the trajectory of your career for years to come, so the best advice is always to consider all of your options and try to look beyond the present and put yourself if the best possible position for the post-COVID world of work.

Allied is hiring!  We work with many essential businesses that need workers to support the fight against COVID.  Check out our current openings and apply today!

 

 

 

Your Job Search: The Big Picture

It is never easy to talk when having your teeth cleaned, but recently I chatted with my dental hygienist while she cleaned my teeth. I always ask about her kids – particularly her son, Joe.

A few years ago, Joe was searching for a job and came to Allied. We placed him in a warehouse position at a great company – a company that ended up hiring him. Today, my hygienist told me he is interviewing for a position in that same company’s sales and marketing department, something he was always interested in. If he gets the position, he’ll train in Europe for a few weeks. She also told me the company is paying for him to complete his degree, something else he always hoped to do. I heard the pride in her voice as she talked about him; she was so happy he got into this company because so many new opportunities were now opening for him.

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I love to hear stories like this. They confirm what we in the staffing industry know: temporary work can open doors you may have never known existed nor been able to open yourself. Joe didn’t do well when he went to college straight out of high school so he dropped out. If he had applied for the same sales and marketing job then, he never would have gotten the interview. But now, he’s had the chance to prove himself to a company that recognized his potential and is giving him the chance to move from the warehouse to a job he’d merely dreamed of a few years ago. Plus, he is with a company that will finance the completion of his degree.

When we talk to people about jobs, we encourage them to consider the big picture. Maybe we don’t have your dream job available. We dare you to look at more than that. Is the company part of an industry that appeals to you? Does the company have a variety of departments and positions? Will the experience improve your resume? Will the job help you pay your bills while you continue to look for your dream job?

During a job search, it is important to take a step back and look at things differently. I’m sure Joe was frustrated before he came to us and I’m sure he complained to someone about having to take a warehouse job to get by, but I bet he’s happy with the big picture unfolding in front of him right now.

Want to jumpstart your job search?  Take a look at our current opportunities, and apply today!

Job Search Tools: Wordle

Have you ever heard of a wordle? Self-described as a “toy for generating ‘word clouds’ from text that you provide”, they offer an interesting way to visually represent text. Words that appear more frequently in the source text are displayed larger than other words. It’s an interesting exercise to create a wordle of your blog feed to see if the resulting image accurately represents the message you are hoping to deliver with your posts.

The wordle created from our blog feed is below, and it perfectly captures the goals and message of this blog. (Click to enlarge.)

Wordles aren’t just for blogs. You can cut and paste any text and create an image. Try creating a word cloud from your resume. Are the words that represent your strengths, skills and experience that you want to highlight the largest? If you have multiple resumes that you use for different positions, creating a wordle for each is an easy way to see if they are emphasizing the correct things. And what about your cover letters? A wordle can help you see if the keywords and important points of the job description or posting that you are responding to are prominent enough in your letter.

Wordles are a fun “toy”, but also have some possibilities to help you with your job search, even if only to help you look at it a bit differently. Sometimes being able to take a different perspective can be a big help, especially with something like your resume that you may have looked at over and over. And that new perspective might be the spark your job search needs.

Once you have that resume ready to go, check out our current openings and get it over to our recruiters!

Nonprofits as First Steps

From The Wall Street Journal

By DENNIS NISHI

imagesWhile her friends interned at big investment-banking firms, Molly Heitzman chose a summer job in 2009 with Fundación Paraguaya, a microfinance company in Asuncion, Paraguay. She believed that giving the poor access to basic banking services was an effective way to fight poverty, and she’d also gain some global work experience.

The nonprofit was experiencing an abnormally high 13% loan default rate so Ms. Heitzman went out to investigate the problem. She discovered that many small businesses had defaulted because of poor to nonexistent accounting practices.

“I proposed a program that would school borrowers in the business basics of marketing, accounting and saving money,” she says, uncertain as to whether the organization used her ideas.

Ms. Heitzman’s efforts actually made a stronger impression on Deloitte Consulting in Minneapolis, which hired her for a full-time job as a business analyst a year later in 2010.

Although career experts say college graduates will continue to face a tough job market in the new year, volunteering for nonprofit work like the Peace Corps can fill an experience gap and provide a competitive advantage. That’s especially the case since nonprofit work can be like an accelerated management course. Volunteers are often pressed into management and administrative roles they might otherwise not attain for years at for-profit companies.

First, find a nonprofit organization that you’re interested in working with since commitment to the job and the cause is important, says Mark Lonergan, founder of the Redwood City, Calif.-based recruiting firm Lonergan Partners.

“Any way you can show that you genuinely applied yourself in a very important way can count as a very important component of any résumé,” he says. “Employers want to know that you were serious about the work.”

Seek out roles that offer transferable experience. Managing volunteers, for example, to build an irrigation system in Honduras is relatable to many different for-profit job duties. Working as a museum docent may be harder to sell.

Be prepared to aggressively promote and even defend your nonprofit experience during interviews. There is still a stigma associated with nonprofit work at some companies, career experts say.

Turn your more esoteric experiences into a narrative that illustrates how you overcame obstacles and achieved goals. People respond well to stories. Highlight the intangibles that employers are always looking for during interviews.

Emphasize your flexibility, communication skills and ability to deal with ambiguity, says Patricia Tourigny, vice president of talent acquisition for Avon, Conn.-based Magellan Health Services. “We don’t see a lot of entry-level résumés with that kind of experience, but when we do, we take notice. And we’re always looking for it.”

The pay for volunteer work may be negligible but full-time volunteers can defer or even have federal student loans forgiven through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program from 2007. Unfortunately, the law doesn’t help with private student loans.

 

Interested in exploring non-profit careers?  Allied works with a wide range of not-for-profit organizations in the Lehigh Valley.  Check out our job openings and apply today!

Professional Career Opportunities

Allied is more than just temporary staffing! We are also a leader in the staffing of Office & Professional roles for companies across a diverse set of industries within the Lehigh Valley.  And working with a professional recruiter can transform your job search!

Here are just a few of the roles we currently have available:

images-1HR Manager

Senior Operations Manager

HR Generalist

HRIS Analyst

Staff Accountant

QA Documentation Coordinator

Network Engineer

Desktop Support

Project Coordinator

Corporate Recruiter

These full-time positions are all located in the Lehigh Valley and offer the chance to work with some of the best companies in the area. If you are interested in one of these openings, please email your resume to janell@alliedps.com for immediate consideration.  (Haven’t updated your resume recently?  Check out our tips for giving it a refresh!)

Now Hiring: Warehouse Associates

Allied is hiring warehouse workers for Walgreens’ Distribution Center in Easton!  All positions pay $14/hr, with both day and night shifts available.

 

Allied offers several easy options for you to apply:

Lehigh Valley Education and Talent Supply Study

With a strengthening economy and low unemployment comes a potential labor crisis.

Companies in Lehigh and Northampton counties are hiring and plan to continue hiring over the next year, but if the problem of finding the skilled workers necessary to fill these positions persists and nobody takes action to address the issue, the region could see a deficit of nearly 10,000 workers over the next decade.

Over the next decade, the number of baby boomers leaving the workforce is 90,665, while the number of incoming workers is 80,673.

That’s according to the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp., which Thursday afternoon released the final report of a yearlong regional study that polled more than 300 companies in Lehigh and Northampton counties on questions related to skill needs, hiring plans, workforce challenges and other factors.

With Lehigh Valley-specific data in hand, economic development and workforce officials say they are poised to capture a greater understanding of how to find the right people for the right job.

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“This data is the first time we’ve had Lehigh Valley specific data,” said Don Cunningham, president and CEO of LVEDC. “It’s really saying the Lehigh Valley is in the category of most of the strong growth regions in the country. Demand for skills is increasing.”

At an event that attracted about 200 people to the Blue Grillhouse event center in Bethlehem Township, officials involved in the Education & Talent Supply Study disclosed the findings from the data they gathered over the year. State grants funded the majority of the study.

The Education & Talent Supply Council formed in 2015 to meet, discuss and work on these labor issues and had participation from local schools and colleges, said Mark Erickson, president of Northampton Community College and chairman of the council.

FIVE TARGETED SECTORS

In 2017, LVEDC and the Workforce Board Lehigh Valley hired MDB Insight, a Toronto consulting firm, to conduct the study that included interviews, focus groups and surveys with businesses from five targeted industry sectors and other stakeholders.

That same year, LVEDC hired Karianne Gelinas for a newly created position, director of talent supply. Gelinas helped to gather the data and worked closely with the council.

The targeted sectors are manufacturing; high-value business services; life sciences; transportation, warehousing, logistics and wholesale; and health care. The data are only from companies in these fields, and the council chose these sectors because they said they demonstrated the greatest employment needs.

“They already employ a large sector of our workforce and they are poised for growth,” Gelinas said.

Having strategies to help these growing employers is critical to the region’s economic health, Gelinas said.

COMMUTING IN AND OUT

The study also used Census Bureau data, which showed there are more Valley residents commuting outside the region to work than there are out-of-area commuters coming into the Valley to work.

Data revealed 91,230 people work in the Valley but live elsewhere, while 186,170 people live and work in the Valley. Furthermore, the data showed 99,138 people live in the Valley and work elsewhere.

“That number used to be way out of balance,” Cunningham said, saying many more residents commuted out of the Valley to work elsewhere. The council would like to broadly identify those 99,138 people leaving the Valley each day to work, their skills and where they are going, he added.

QUALITY WORKERS ARE PARAMOUNT

LVEDC, an organization focused on attracting new companies to the Valley and retaining existing ones, is finding that businesses are increasingly more concerned with the quality of the available workforce than they are location, according to Cunningham.

“The availability of skilled labor and gaps between existing workforce and skills that today’s employers need are critical economic challenges,” he said. “This is not just a Lehigh Valley issue.

“It’s a common concern in growing communities across the United States during a period of rapid technological change and historically low unemployment levels.”

NINE IN 10 TO HIRE

A majority of surveyed employers said they have had difficulties hiring. The study showed 71 percent said their company has experienced challenges in recruiting, hiring or retaining workers over the past year.

The study also showed 91 percent of employers said they have hired workers within the past year, and 89 percent said they plan to hire within the next 12 months.

“The constant that we see across all our clients is, the skills gap affects everyone,” said Susan Larkin, vice president of Allied Personnel Services, a staffing agency in Allentown and presenting event sponsor. “The need for this study is clear.”

Larkin said she has not seen a labor market like this one. Her firm has experienced many different labor markets over the years and is one of the Valley’s largest employers.

36 RECOMMENDATIONS

Now with the survey complete and the data released, the council will examine 36 recommendations that MDB Insight identified, including nine that LVEDC views as the highest priority for taking immediate action.

These include conducting more tours of local businesses for the community and school officials, developing a more targeted mentorship program and finding out where residents go who leave the region for educational opportunities elsewhere. The full study and recommendations are available at LVEDC’s website.

“We are trying to look forward and put some framework in place,” Cunningham said. “We have to understand it to be smart.”

Source:  Lehigh Valley Business