Have You Ever… The Re-Entry Landscape

Have You Ever… The Re-Entry Landscape

Getting back on your employment-feet after a criminal conviction isn’t easy. And trying to help someone who is can be just as difficult if you’ve never walked in those shoes.

The question of how the public workforce system can help came up in a meeting a few weeks ago, so to get some insight I reached out to a colleague who’s been helping folks in these situations for years. As expected, he had some good perspective.

Assistance

  • Successful reconnection to the public world generally hinges on four factors: 1) stable housing; 2) sobriety; 3) social support (family, friends, etc.); and 4) a job. And like a four-legged chair, remove any one leg and it tips right over.
  • For the first three, there’s not much the public workforce system can do beyond guiding individuals to groups that do provide those services. But for a job, there is MUCH we can do. We can address education needs, get you into occupational training programs that develop in-demand skills for growing career fields, help complete applications and build a resume, provide good job leads via WorkInTexas.com, and even provide assistance with bonding, tax credits, and licensing and certification questions that might help you overcome some employment hurdles.
  • And maybe most important, we can help answer, on applications and in interviews, the tough questions when asked to disclose or explain any difficult past situations. There is no silver-bullet answer but there are certainly things you should know and do to improve your chances for an interview, and a job.

Advice

  • Having a criminal background doesn’t make it impossible to get a job; it just requires more effort on your part to find one. It’s easy and understandable to get discouraged, but looking for work is a function of numbers. Keep at it and it your effort will pay off.
  • All employers look for certain core attributes in those they hire. Show you have those and that can go a long way to help an employer see past other maybe not-so-good things. These include motivation, ability to take direction and learn work processes, get along well with co-workers and customers, and a willingness to learn and do.
  • Remember, many available jobs are never posted anywhere. These “hidden jobs” are filled by family, friends, or acquaintances of employees at the job site. Talking to everyone about who and what they know is one of the best ways to find a good job.

Myth-busting

  • Looking for an “offender friendly” list of employers? Don’t. Most employers today take a situational approach to hiring individuals with criminal backgrounds. Categorizing that into a list of who will and who won’t just can’t be done.

Find a workforce office near you.

Good luck.

Using “Keywords”

“Keywords” are one area of WorkInTexas.com for which we get a lot of questions, from all types of users. And while some seek to understand how and why they’re used, more often questions are about what types of things that make sense to be listed as keywords. And this is especially important if you want to ensure you get the best possible job matches.

The Thing

“Keywords” in WorkInTexas.com allow you to provide additional detail about individual and specific criteria and skills that you as an employer want or you as a job seeker have. These keywords are not automatically pulled from the job description. Instead, these are intentionally entered by employers and job seekers to help narrow job matches to more accurately meet the other’s expectations.

Computer programmer, mechanic, project manager, nurse, and others all have small but significant differences in skills sets and requirements that quickly make them good or bad matches. The specific skills for these types of jobs (.net, java; diesel engines, ASE certified; PMP, agile; RN, LVN) can make all the difference if added to your WorkInTexas.com posting or profile.

The Catch

Keywords don’t always fit. Customer Service and Good Communication are certainly skills, but are subject to interpretation as opposed to hard skills and recognized licenses, certifications, and the like.

Also, listing specific types of desired knowledge creates a hard match, particularly for job seekers. As an employer, you might value someone who has knowledge of the “Workforce Investment Act” and perceive it as a skill. However, would a job seeker know what that is, and would they think of it as a skill, or would they be more likely to think of it as a program for which their skill of Policy Analysis applies?

In a nutshell, the best results are achieved when listing specific terms that represent tangible things.

The Tips

  • Format matters – “C+” is not the same as “C +.” And “payroll” is not the same as “pay roll.” Enter keywords in the industry-standard format, to the extent there is one. If there’s not and it’s important to you, enter it twice (both ways).
  • Employers can include up to 10 keywords on a job posting AND have the option to require job seekers match one or all of them.
  • Keywords can be a max of 20 characters long so think concise. “Early Childhood Prog” probably won’t get you what you want.
  • Use the “View Examples and Top 10 Keywords” link. This will help you understand what others have entered and what you might expect based on what you’re entering.

Feel free to comment on this post if you have questions.

As always, good luck.

The Workplace of the Future

We’ve all heard about the non-traditional workplace provided to employees of Google, Rackspace, and others. The question is, will all employers look like that in the future?

Recently Kieron Monks gave journalist and trend forecaster James Wallman a shot at answering this very question. His insights and perspective are nothing short of fascinating. That conversation is summarized below.

Wallman sees the future holding a place for three different work-environment models.

  • The “Hotel California” model: “A workplace so good you’ll never leave.” The lights are on 24/7 because there is so much there that it’s as much fun as life outside of work, and with better food. Here, coworkers are friends, where work and play have become the same and work is something they want to do. A strong sense of mission is key for companies operating this model, in order to capture the hearts and minds of employees: Appealing to shared values in order to recruit, keep and motivate a sophisticated workforce. And more and more social benefits now come in to play, where management must sell intrinsic value rather than just a living to a generation of employees that have come to expect more.
  • The “Martini” model: defined by extreme flexibility, inspired by the classic TV ads which promised “anytime, anywhere.” Wallman notes personal relationships with someone who trades stocks from the island of Mauritius, and another who runs a restaurant, located in South London, from Bali. The attraction of course being that they can operate their business at their convenience, from wherever they want, without having to work around fixed hours.
  • The “Third Space” model: for people who enjoy the freedom of the Martini model but also appreciate regular human contact. Wallman points to the rise of relaxed co-working spaces for freelancers of all disciplines that combine games rooms with stable facilities, such as the Fueled Collective site in New York City.

Looking even further ahead, Wallman notes the possibilities available via automation to give workers even more freedom, including permanent disruption of the five-day week. However, as with all social trends, the shift must work its way through the early adopters.

But Wallman believes these trends will rapidly become a universal touchstone, offering value for businesses and fulfillment for employees. “It may seem like fantasy” he says, “but the standard of living changed incredibly in the 20th century.” And Wallman predicts that will continue in the 21st century. “When we go to work, it will be to enjoy ourselves.”

Definitely something to think about.

The Seinfeld Strategy

I recently read a story about Jerry Seinfeld and what the author titled “The Seinfeld Strategy,” essentially a personal formula for success.

The story was about a young comic who had a chance meeting with Seinfeld in a club. The young comic, acknowledging how Seinfeld had managed to remain relevant and successful for so many years, asked for any tips. Seinfeld replied “The way to be a better comic is to create better jokes. And the way to create better jokes is to write jokes every day.”

“Get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. Next, get a big red magic marker. Then for each day you complete your task of writing, put a big red X over that day. After a few days you’ll have a chain. Keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You’ll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. And then your only job is to not break the chain.”

Probably the most important thing in all that is what’s not said: nothing about results, just don’t break the chain. And by not breaking it, you’re creating good habits that should serve you well, even with something like searching for a job.

It’s but one of a hundred different personal success strategies, and not all work for all people. The point is that structure can be a positive thing. And everyone can benefit from some positive structure when searching for a job.

The Seinfeld Strategy is a three-legged structure-stool:

  • Stop procrastinating. Searching for a job is hard, but you can’t put it off just because you don’t want to do it. Part of searching for a job is simply being at the right place or on the right website at the right time. And creating a consistent task-pattern to follow day after day will help you not put things off, but also help you get back up the day after one that maybe didn’t go so well.
  • Mastery follows consistency. Task-patterns are practice sessions. The more you practice, the better you get. And as you get better but keep practicing, you being to develop a mastery of that skill. Again, telling jokes or looking for a job, it doesn’t matter. You simply want to be the best, most-prepared, most informed you can be and the rest will fall into place.
  • Pick tasks that are meaningful but also realistic. Making 5 solid contacts a day is probably doable. Getting 10 interviews a day probably isn’t. Whatever you’re doing, be honest with yourself about what you can and will do and then create your tasks (and set your expectations) accordingly.

Best of luck.

Want To Be An Engineer?

BAE-InfographicNew_10-2014If only my high school counselor had told me I could be weighing multiple $150K/yr job offers in 20 years, oh what I might have done differently.

Engineering wasn’t anywhere on my radar at 17, but there are a lot of people and a lot of efforts happening to try to make sure that isn’t the case for the workforce of tomorrow. I’d have had to work much harder in math and science, sure. But with a 6-figure payoff, cool job opportunities and exotic locations in which to do them, I might have listened: Who knows. The point is, for high school kids today, lack of access to information about career options and opportunities shouldn’t be an issue at all.

Ken Cohen, the VP of public & government affairs for Exxon Mobile, recently posted a good article about what it means to be an engineer. It’s an easy read and he nails the point in just a few words. It’s a great share for kids thinking about what they want to do when they grow up, but also for adults thinking about their own career options.

Engineers build snowboards and water-parks and roller coasters, design and launch rockets, and are testing ideas most of us haven’t even considered. But all occupations offer similar cool-factor opportunities depending on your interests. And in today’s world where data on everything is just a few clicks away, no one should ever have to look back and say “man, if I’d only known.”

Of course engineering is not for everyone, but for most who are willing to put their minds to it, doing what you want/something that rewards you in the ways you wish to be rewarded is not beyond the realm of possibility. The catch is having the information to understand and make informed decisions, at any age and at any level. A few different tools to help you do just that are provided below.

Career Exploration Tools

Also, for those looking for engineer jobs or to hire engineers, here are a few helpful links.

Texas Is Wide Open For Veterans

Last week TWC, in partnership with TVC and Texas.gov, launched a new website for veterans called Texas Wide Open For Veterans. And while there are a million websites for various veteran causes already out there, what makes this one unique is its purpose – selling Texas.

In addition to promoting employment connections between jobs and job seekers via WorkInTexas.com, the site aims to reveal the many advantages and opportunities Texas offers to veterans who are considering making (or keeping) the Lone Star State their permanent residence. Texas Wide Open For Veterans markets Texas to veterans, as a place to live, earn a living, raise a family and enjoy all the state has to offer.

Texas Wide Open For Veterans is also a sister-site to the Texas Veterans Portal which provides information and connections on veteran benefits, education, health, communities and employment. Texas Workforce Commissioner Representing Employers Hope Andrade said at the launch, Texas “has so much to offer. With the highest job growth in the country, there are many opportunities for these veterans to find work in a variety of industries in Texas. And we want to make sure our men and women in uniform know that we’d love for them to make Texas their home.”

In addition to information about why Texas is THE place to be, the site features interactive maps that show Workforce Solutions Offices, international airports, VA hospitals, state parks, and more. It also includes a contact option to directly connect veterans and employers to workforce professionals across the state who can assist with or direct them on just about anything.

If you are, know, or work with veterans, give it a look. We think it’s pretty good, but anything can be improved and we’d love to hear your thoughts or suggestions.

Combining WIT & TWIST

It’s finally happening! WorkInTexas.com (WIT) and The Workforce Information System of Texas (TWIST-the state’s case management system) are being combined in a single application via a project currently known as Common Components.

For job seekers and employers, you won’t notice much change in terms of applications. The biggest difference will be  our quality of service. Workforce solutions staff will be able to take a more holistic approach in providing services using logical and integrated work-flows. And they’ll be better equipped to understand and address unique individual needs, whether they’re related to training or jobs or something else.

For staff, you will see a big difference, and that difference starts with a web-based system. This new application will be more intuitive and “smarter,” to provide you a better view of each customer, thereby helping you  better serve all customers. Common Components will merge staff functions found in both systems (registration/intake, eligibility, services, etc.), and while it will not yet completely replace both systems, it does put us on the road to that eventual end.

This project will take about 18 months to complete and will provide a seemingly single application that (to the greatest extent possible) easily and seamlessly interacts with what’s left of WIT (self-service and job matching functions) and TWIST (case management-specific functions).

The overall goal of the project is simply to modernize applications and improve local service delivery. This will be accomplished by consolidating common business processes with consistent business rules, ensuring data security and integrity, reducing infrastructure support requirements and stability risks, and eliminating repetitive data entry and data reconciliation. It will also improve customer information collection via a common interface for common functions, and it will save future development time and costs when new functionality and program changes are necessary.

For staff, one more thing you might want to know is that we’re looking for some help in naming this new application. Your first chance to contribute a suggestion will be at the 2014 TWC Annual Conference. There will be other opportunities too, but if you’re in Grapevine this week for the conference, please stop by the Workforce Systems booth in the exhibit hall and give us your best shot.

The Welding Job Market In Texas

Similar to a post we did a few weeks ago, we’ve recently completed some research on the supply and demand picture of welding jobs in Texas. We know these jobs are always in-demand, though maybe more-so recently due to the oil & gas boom in the region, but we were curious to understand that extent, where those jobs were showing up, for whom, and what kind of known labor-supply Texas has to meet that demand.

We again used Help Wanted Online (HWOL) as our demand data source and WorkInTexas.com as our supply source. All the same notes and caveats that applied to the healthcare research also apply here.

Looking at these two things together there appears to be roughly 1 welding job for every 1 person looking for a welding job. That’s a very simple analysis of course, but keep in mind the purpose of this exercise was ballpark perspective, not clinical analysis.

Also, different from healthcare, many of these welding jobs are not actually performed in the same location where they are posted. For example, Company A may be located in Houston with many welder jobs shown there, but the job sites are in the oil and gas fields of south and west Texas.

I hope you find this useful. Feel free to ask questions via the Comments section.

The Healthcare Job Market In Texas

We’ve recently completed some research on the supply and demand picture of healthcare jobs in Texas, as best we can see it. Of course Registered Nurses are THE in-demand job in the state, but what of the rest of that industry? If you or someone you know is thinking about getting into healthcare, the information below might be a good read. First, US News recently published an article on the best healthcare jobs in the country. The ranking is generally based on growth projections with a link to more info about specific duties, pay, and even a list of available jobs in your area. Second is our research information. Different than the article above, ours is based on real-time data that paints a picture of what the market is right now in terms of supply (job seekers who want those jobs) and demand (those jobs that need to be filled), per two different data sources. (To fully understand the market, projections and real-time data are equally valuable and necessary.)

  • The first is Help Wanted Online (HWOL) which we use to, generally speaking, see the full state-wide demand picture. HWOL tracks jobs posted anywhere online and pulls them all together. And by analyzing that data we can create pictures of: overall demand for healthcare jobs (slide 1); trends (slide 2); know where the jobs are (slide 3); know whose hiring (slide 4); even figure out what non-healthcare jobs are being hired by healthcare employers (slide 5).
  • The second is WorkInTexas.com, from which we get much more information about the jobs but also a picture of the supply, something HWOL doesn’t provide. And from that we can create pictures of: number of people seeking professional healthcare jobs (slide 6); top 15 available & in-demand skill sets (slide 7 & 8); and a side-by-side comparison (slide 9).

Healthcare Job Market in Texas – Slides I hope you find this useful. Feel free to ask questions via the Comments section.

More Big Business

About a year ago we posted an article listing the 10 largest employers in the US. Interesting information-sure, albeit not completely relevant to the job or recruiting search most of us go through. But I’ve always been fascinated by stuff like this so when I came across a 24/7 Wall Street article about the 15 largest employers in the world, well I couldn’t resist. They are listed below in summary, with more information on each available here in the original article.

15. Yue Yuen Industrial (Holdings) Limited

  • Total employees: 413,000
  • Revenue: $7.6 billion
  • Country: Taiwan
  • Industry: Footwear

14. Sodexo S.A.

  • Total employees: 427,981
  • Revenue: $24.3 billion
  • Country: France
  • Industry: Hospitality

13. OAO Gazprom

  • Total employees: 429,000
  • Revenue: $156.6 billion
  • Country: Russia
  • Industry: Oil & gas

12. IBM Corporation

  • Total employees: 431,212
  • Revenue: $99.7 billion
  • Country: United States
  • Industry: Technology & consulting

11. Deutsche Post AG

  • Total employees: 435,285
  • Revenue: $76.4 billion
  • Country: Germany
  • Industry: Logistics

10. McDonald’s Corp.

  • Total employees: 440,000
  • Revenue: $28.1 billion
  • Country: United States
  • Industry: Restaurants

9. Industrial & Commercial Bank of China

  • Total employees: 441,902
  • Revenue: $ 91.1 billion
  • Country: China
  • Industry: Banking

8. ISS A/S

  • Total employees: 464,184
  • Revenue: $14.5 billion
  • Country: Denmark
  • Industry: Diversified services

7. Agricultural Bank of China Limited

  • Total employees: 478,980
  • Revenue: $68.2 billion
  • Country: China
  • Industry: Banking

6. Compass Group plc

  • Total employees: 506,699
  • Revenue: $28.4 billion
  • Country: United Kingdom
  • Industry: Diversified services

5. PetroChina Co. Ltd.

  • Total employees: 544,083
  • Revenue: $373.0 billion
  • Country: China
  • Industry: Oil & gas

4. Volkswagen AG

  • Total employees: 555,097
  • Revenue: $271.3 billion
  • Country: Germany
  • Industry: Car manufacturing

3. Randstad Holding NV

  • Total employees: 595,730
  • Revenue: $22.8 billion
  • Country: The Netherlands
  • Industry: Human resources

2. G4S plc

  • Total employees: 618,000
  • Revenue: $12.3 billion
  • Country: United Kingdom
  • Industry: Security services

1. Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

  • Total employees: 2,200,000
  • Revenue: $476.3 billion
  • Country: United States
  • Industry: Retail