Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner


E-mail Steve
This form does not yet contain any fields.
    Listen to internet radio with Steve Boese on Blog Talk Radio

    free counters

    Twitter Feed

    Entries in skills (7)


    Your annual reminder that LinkedIn is not where most people live and work

    Recently, LinkedIn released its list of The 25 Skills That Can Get You Hired in 2016, their assessment based on recruiter, jobseeker, and LinkedIn member activity and profile updates of the 'hottest' skills that their data suggest will be the ones that offer workers the best chance of getting hired or promoted in 2016. Here is the list of these 'hottest' skills as per our pals at LinkedIn:

    Pretty impressive set of skills indeed. From Data Mining to Cloud Computing to Mobile Development and User Experience Design - the list hits just about all of the current and certainly 'hot' trends in technology and business in the last few years. And as LinkedIn rightly state in their analysis of this data, these skills are likely to remain in demand for some time, at least a few years for sure.

    But as I wrote on this blog about 12 months ago when LinkedIn published their list of 'hot' skills for 2015, it is pretty easy to be beguiled by these kinds of lists, particularly when juxtaposing the LinkedIn set of hot skills with the Bureau of Labor Statistics data about what kinds of jobs people actually do, (at least in the USA).

    From our pals at the BLS, here is a chart from May 2014, (the latest period when this data is available), which shows occupations with the largest employment in the USA. Take a look at the data, then a few quick FREE comments from me after the chart.

    Did you catch some differences between what gets people hired, at least people who are on LinkedIn, and the kinds of jobs that are held by the largest numbers of people in the USA? These Top 10 occupations make up about 21% of overall US employment, in case you were wondering, down only 1% from last year in case you were wondering.

    Wonder how far down on the BLS list (and you can check the full list of occupations as defined by the BLS here), you have to go before you run in to 'Cloud and Distributed Computing' and 'Statistical Analysis and Data Mining', the top 'hot' skills for 2016 as per LinkedIn?  

    I will save you a click and let you know that all the occupations that the BLS rolls up into 'Computer and Mathematical Operations', (where most of LinkedIn's Top Hot skills would likely map), account for about 3.8M workers, that is just under 3% of all the jobs in the country, just about the same as it was last year. Sure, it is trendy to think that the LinkedIn skills represent the future of work, and perhaps they probably do, but they don't really represent the 'present' of work, not in a substantial way anyway.

    LinkedIn is a fantastic business, a staggering success, and not at all like the real world where the overwhelming majority of workers reside.

    Have a fantastic day. And don't spend so much time on LinkedIn.


    The disconnect between the skills that get you hired and the jobs most workers have

    Wow, that was a long post title. Sorry. The post won't be that long at all, trust me.

    All I want you to do is look at two charts and then draw your own conclusions about the significance, if any.

    The first, courtesy of the world's largest professional network, LinkedIn, who published some data they call 'The 25 Hottest Skills That Got People Hired in 2014', (from an analysis of member skills, employment changes, and recruiter interest on LinkedIn). 

    Here is the chart:

    Now for the second chart I'd like to bring to your attention, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics a look at the Top 10 occupations with the highest employment (dated from May 2013, so it is slightly older than the LinkedIn data, but it was the latest I could find after about 5 minutes of exhaustive research)

    Here goes:

    See any differences between what gets people hired, at least people on LinkedIn, and the kinds of jobs that are held by the largest numbers of people in the USA? These Top 10 occupations make up about 22% of overall US employment, in case you were wondering.

    Wonder how far down on the BLS list (and you can check the full list of occupations as defined by the BLS here), you have to go before you run in to 'Statistical Analysis and Data Mining', the top 'hot' skill for 2014 as per LinkedIn. I will save you a click and let you know that all the occupations that the BLS rolls up into 'Computer and Mathematical Operations', (where most of LinkedIn's Top Hot skills would likely map), account for about 3.7M workers, that is just under 3% of all the jobs in the country.

    Ok, since I said I was going to just show the charts and leave it up to you to think about, I better shut up.

    Have a fantastic day. And don't spend so much time on LinkedIn.


    How much does industry specific experience matter?

    Lifted from a comment left on Tuesday's 'Chocolate Foresight Activator' post was this question from commenter Stew, who wondered about my conclusion/observation that since Hershey didn't mention the word 'chocolate' at all in the job posting for this 'Chocolate Futurist' role, that maybe what they really wanted was the best marketer/planner/designer/strategist they could find, even if he/she didn't know much or even care about chocolate:

    This job scares me a little as it sounds more like the "Phillip Morris's" style job..

    i.e. you don't have to care about smoking - just love marketing.

    If you look at "Whittakers Chocolate" they would argue you should have a passion for the chocolate......and the marketing will follow.

    Another way of raising the classic question about industry specific experience, and its relative importance as a predictor of success in most types of support functions or back office roles.

    Or said differently, do you really need to have had 5 years experience as a chocolate company marketer, in order to qualify for a job as a marketing manager for say a jelly bean manufacturer?

    Or does someone's marketing functional experience generally translate across industries, making the fundamental or core marketing skills like demand generation, content creation, sales enablement, etc. the real prerequisites for success in most any marketing job?

    After all, a bright enough and motivated enough person can learn just about anything, (leaving aside for obvious reasons those highly skilled and really critical you don't mess up kinds of jobs like airline pilot, brain surgeon, point guard), so in the above example if an organization had a choice between a great marketer than did not know the candy business or a candy expert that did not know much about marketing, then which way should they go?

    But since no one has time, budget, resources to do much on the job training, we usually try to land candidates that meet both criteria - functional expertise and industry experience.

    We want candidates to show not only can they do the job, but that they can do the job here.

    I wonder how much of the 'skills gap' isn't masquerading as a 'industry experience gap?'

    What say you, how much, for roles that are generally pretty transferable from one domain to another, does specifc industry experience matter for a candidate?


    Human Resources when there are less humans around

    The below chart (or a version of it) has been making the rounds plenty in the last year or so as the American economy rebounds and seemingly continues to strengthen coming out of the financial crisis and ensuing recession of the late aughts.

    It shows how despite corporate profits, expressed as a percentage of GDP, continuing to set records, that those record profits have not (taken in aggregate), translated into lots of new jobs, as the labor participation rate shows.

    Source - FRED 

    As the chart pretty clearly shows, aggregate corporate profits (the red line), after plunging to a low at about the middle of the recession, late 2008, have rebounded considerably, and now are at all-time record levels as a percentage of GDP.

    The employment rate however, after taking an equally dramatic fall throughout the entire recession, finally stabilized at a far lower level than pre-recession, and despite, (or some might argue what has been the primary driver of), rising corporate profits is showing no signs of regaining its former levels of around 62%.

    Profits are up, way up even, yet corporations are achieving these profits with far fewer workers than before, (and paying them less, generally. We could also factor in wage growth or lack thereof to make that point at well).

    There are lots of reasons for this - technological progress, increased automation, continuing reliance on relatively cheaper foreign labor, diminishing influence of labor unions, the aging of the workforce, etc. but the bottom line seems to be an ever-growing bottom line with less and less actual people needed to make that happen.

    No doubt if you are one of the workers in the 'right' kind of job, you are probably doing pretty well or are on the way to doing pretty well. But if you are one of the people that might be in a field that has simply figured out to continue to drive profits without as many people, then things could be looking kind of grim.

    Where does all this leave you as an HR/Talent pro?

    A lot depend on the company/industry you are in. But in aggregate, certainly, when there are less and less 'humans' in the workforce, then corporations will figure out they need less and less Human Resources people to help look after them all. I have talked with a few HR leaders lately that are seeing both the size of their labor forces hold steady and their HR/EE ratios holding an extremely high levels.


    Make sure you are spending a decent chunk of your time and energy on things that are truly additive - technology that will help employees generate new ideas and innovations, marketing and recruiting strategies that will let you land more than your share of the best talent at the expense of your competitors, and even in an 'addition-by-subtraction' way, elimination of silly rules, policies, or processes that in any way get in the way of employee performance.

    And you could spend some time figuring out what kinds of planning, services, training, development, and team building activities that 'resources' like our pal Baxter needs and you might ride this out a little longer.

    Have a great weekend!


    Is it a skills gap or a bias against the long-term unemployed?

    I'd like to call your attention to what is essentially more wood for the fire of the seemingly endless 'Skills gap' debate - a summary of some recent research by two Northeastern University academics, William Dickens and Rand Ghayad, titled 'It's not a skills mismatch: Disaggregate evidence on the US-unemployment-vacancy relationship' posted this past weekend on the Vox site.  

    You should take a few minutes to read the piece from Dickens and Ghayad - it provides an interesting and somewhat alternative method of examining the alleged skills gap problem - the scenario that so many corporations, government agencies, and educational institutions seem to take as truth. Namely that one significant reason (perhaps the most important reason) for persistently high unemployment, even after the official recession was over, is that a fundamental 'skills gap' is preventing organizations from filling many of the millions of current vacancies that exist in the USA.US Beveridge Curve 2004 - 2010

    Dickens and Ghayad analyze the behavior of the so-called 'Beveridge Curve', the relationship between unemployment and job vacancies that is an indicator of the efficiency of the labor market. As you'd expect, the Beveridge Curve suggests that as the vacancy rate increases, the corresponding unemployment rate decreases (in an efficient labor market), as more people find work in an environment of increased opportunity.

    But in the months following the end of the recession, the data points that connect the level of job vacancies and the reported unemployment rate continue to lie outside of the range of expectations suggested by the Beveridge Curve, implying some kind of inefficiency in the labor market. The most common explanation for this discrepancy is the 'skills gap', simply that the nature of work is changing so rapidly, that the skills and experience that employers demand simply can't be met efficiently by what skills and experience that the unemployed job seekers present.

    Dickens and Ghayad take the Beveridge Curve data a bit further however, by examining how the relationship between increased job vacancies correlates to the unemployment rate for multiple stages of unemployment, from the short term, (less than 5 weeks), to the long-term, (more than 26 weeks). The results of this analysis are startling. Essentially the researchers found that only at the longest unemployment durations, does the Beverdige Curve 'jump' or shift.  At the shorter and medium term unemployment periods the data shows consistency with the historical trends, i.e. as job vacancies increase, unemployment rates decrease.

    Said more simply - as the economy continues to recover, and more job vacancies get created, the expected reduction in the unemployment rate implied by the Beveridge Curve has held except for the long-term unemployed cohort, defined as being unemployed for greater than 26 weeks. For this group of unemployed workers, and this group only, job vacancy increases have not resulted in the expected and historical level of unemployment reduction. The authors contend then, that a fundamental 'skills gap' problem can't be the cause of aggregate high unemployment, otherwise we would see this effect across the entire range of unemployment durations, not just the longer term. From the Vox piece:

     It is possible that the long-term unemployed are increasingly made up of workers whose skills are not suited to available jobs. However, if this were the case why wouldn’t we see some outward shift in the short-term relationship as well? Furthermore, the fact that the vacancy-unemployment relationship has shifted in all industries when only the workers who were previously employed in those industries are considered calls the mismatch hypothesis into question as well.

     Another possibility is that the long-term unemployed in this recession may be searching less intensively, either because jobs are much harder to find or because of the availability of unprecedented amounts and durations of unemployment benefits.

    This seems like a more likely explanation, though if a drop in search intensity is due only to difficulty finding jobs it again raises the question of why we wouldn’t see that at shorter durations as well.
    It is interesting and challenging data for sure, but it has some pretty important implications if the author's conclusions are correct. Mainly, that the recovery is passing right by the long-term unemployed. Whether it is job search fatigue and discouragement, or a more troubling employer bias against these people, either way, if this recovery is effectively creating a large and growing class of unemployable (for myriad and hard-to-determine reasons), then even as the total unemployment rate seems to stabilize, the problems we face as a country and an economy will persist.
    What do you think - does this 'skills gap' really only exist, (if at all), once someone has been out of work for quite a long time?