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Where to Find Great Talent

You can hire the best, even if you're on a budget. You just need to know where to look.

"To succeed, surround yourself with great talent." Sounds great.

Also sounds expensive.

Hiring the best is really hard to pull off in practice, especially if your goal is to hire Lamborghinis and all you have is a Kia budget.

So what can you do? Try taking a contrarian investment approach to hiring.

People, just like stocks, are often underappreciated and undervalued, like people who have great skills but no experience in your industry. Or people who are well educated, but their education is in the "wrong" field. Or people whose current job lacks sufficient "status."

Or people who suffer due to negative social stereotypes.

The key to finding great talent at a price you can afford is to be a hiring contrarian. Go against the grain. Go against conventional wisdom. Then you can find your next superstar while giving someone deserving a chance to show what they can really do.

Here are some examples of great talent that are often hiding in plain view:

Career switchers

Teachers are a great example. Many love to teach but grow to dislike the relatively low pay. Teachers are excellent trainers, understand how to manage different personalities, and are great at motivating, encouraging, and nurturing other people.

While you can train skills, do you have the time and resources to "train" your employees to possess qualities like those?

Where career switchers are concerned, the key is to ignore their industry and look at the qualities the person possesses: Good salespeople are self-starters. Good police officers work well under pressure. Good mechanics are excellent troubleshooters.

With a little training, outstanding people excel in almost any job.


I might be biased, but I think sports create an excellent training ground for business. A recent graduate who played a sport is self-disciplined, motivated, great at multitasking, able to overcome adversity, appreciates the value of teamwork... aren't those qualities you want your employees to have?

Every year approximately 400,000 student-athletes graduate from college and enter the job market. Snap one up.


This time I'm definitely biased. I hired hundreds of people and definitely made mistakes, but I never regretted a single ex-military hire.

Not one.

If you need a leader (and who doesn't?)  the military is probably the only organization that puts as much or more emphasis on leadership training as it does on skills training.

If you need someone to see a task through, or to be able to follow as well as lead, or to be able to make smart decisions on the fly-and stand behind those decisions, go with a veteran.

You'll be glad you did.

Not so impressive current job

You glance at a resume: The current job listed is telemarketing, or fast food, or stocking shelves. What's your first thought?

Admit it. You think, "Well, if that's all they're doing now..." It's easy to assume a person who currently has a less than wonderful job is only "worth" a job like that.

Wrong: The fast food kid probably has more customer service experience than you do, and the warehouse worker may possess the attention to detail of an accountant on performance-enhancing drugs.

Look past the job title and think about the duties and responsibilities; that's what really matters.


Of course younger workers don't have any experience. How could they?

You and I were young once too. Someone gave us a chance-and we worked hard to show that person they made the right decision. Make sure at least a small percentage of your new hires are young people just entering the workforce. Then you get energy, ideas, enthusiasm-and the chance to truly grow your own talent pool.



Haden, Jeff. "Where to Find Great Talent: 5 Contrarian Ideas" INC Magazine. 10 April 2012. Web. 

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Published in Business

Economy adds 227,000 jobs in February


david brotherton.jpgView full sizeJob seeker David Brotherton, of Salem, looks for work Monday at WorkSource Oregon in Salem. U.S. employers added 227,000 jobs in February, the third straight month of strong hiring, the Labor Department said this morning.

U.S. employers added 227,000 jobs in February to complete three of the best months of hiring since the recession ended. The unemployment rate was unchanged, largely because more people streamed into the work force.

The Labor Department said Friday that the unemployment rate stayed at 8.3 percentlast month, the lowest in three years.

And hiring in January and December was better than first thought. The government revised those figures to show 61,000 an additional jobs.

The economy has now generated an average of 245,000 jobs in the past three months. The only stretch better since the recession began was in early 2010.

That bodes well for President Barack Obama's re-election chances, although he's still likely to face the highest unemployment rate of any post-war president.

"Overall, another very strong payroll report and there's every chance that March will bring more of the same," said Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist with Capital Economics.

Stocks rose after the report was released. The Dow Jones industrial average added 30 points in early-morning trading. Broader indexes also increased.

Another strong month of hiring makes it less likely that the Federal Reserve will take additional steps to boost the economy at its meeting next week.

Last month's hiring was broad-based and in both high-paying and lower-paying industries. Manufacturing, mining, and professional services, such as accounting, all added jobs.

Still, wages are rising only modestly. Average hourly pay increased by 3 cents, to $23.31. In the past year, it has gone up only 1.9 percent — trailing the rate of inflation.

GS.71JOBS110.jpgView full size

Governments at all levels cut only 6,000 jobs in February and 1,000 in January, after a revision. That's a welcome change from the heavy layoffs by cash-strapped states and cities over the past two years. Last year alone they cut an average of 22,000 jobs per month.

Nearly a half-million people began looking for work last month, and most found jobs, the report said. That's a sign of growing optimism in the job market, as many people who had given up on looking for work came off the sidelines to search for jobs.

That also counters a troubling trend: a key reason why the unemployment rate has dropped since last year is that many out-of-work people have stopped looking for work. Only people without jobs who are actively seeking one are counted as unemployed.

A sustained rise in the number of people looking for jobs is a good sign, even if the unemployment rate doesn't change.

"The unemployment rate is holding steady even as the labor force grows. That is a good outcome," said Dan Greenhaus, an analyst with BTIG, a brokerage firm in New York.

The report was filled with other promising details.

The so-called "underemployment" rate — which includes those who've given up looking for work and those with part-time jobs who want full-time work — fell to 14.9 percent. That's the lowest in three years.

The number of people employed in February — 142.1 million — was the highest since January 2009. Manufacturing payrolls were at their highest point since April 2009.

And over the past three months, the number of employed people has risen by 1.45 million, the biggest three-month gain since March 2000.

Friday's report comes as a host of data points to an improving economy and job market. Weekly applications for unemployment benefits have fallen about 14 percent in six months. Though they ticked up last week, average applications remain near a four-year low.

And service companies, which employ most Americans, are expanding at a faster pace, according to a private survey released this week. A gauge of employment shows that service firms are still hiring, particularly in the mining, educational services, and transportation and warehousing industries.

The service sector includes everything from restaurants and hotels to health care firms and financial service companies.

Some companies must hire because they can't squeeze more output from their current staffs. Last year, worker productivity rose at its slowest pace in nearly 25 years. That means companies will likely have to add staff to meet growing demand.

Other figures point to the same conclusion. The average work week was unchanged at 34.5 hours. That's close to the pre-recession total and suggests that companies will have to hire more workers as business improves, rather than adding more hours.




The Associated Press. "Economy adds 227,000 jobs in February; jobless rate remains at 8.3 percent" The Associated Press. 9 March. 2012. Web. 

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Published in Business

The Happiest Jobs In America

When you think of a cheerful job, you probably don’t think of loan officer, warehouse manager, or accountant. But it turns out these are some of the happiest careers in America, according to online jobs site

CareerBliss compiled a list of the 20 happiest jobs based on analysis from more than 100,400 employee-generated reviews between February 2011 and January 2012. Employees were asked to rate 10 factors that affect workplace happiness, including one’s relationship with the boss and co-workers, work environment, job resources, compensation, growth opportunities, company culture, company reputation, daily tasks, and control over the work one does on a daily basis

The employees valued each factor on a five-point scale, and also indicated how important it was to their overall happiness at work. The numbers were combined to find an average rating of overall employee happiness for each respondent, and then sorted by job title to find which occupations had the happiest workers. A minimum of 50 employee reviews was required to be considered for CareerBliss’ 20 Happiest Jobs in America, and executive level jobs, like chief executive, were excluded from the study.

“Since we tend to spend more waking hours working than doing anything else, our work happiness is a huge factor in our overall happiness,” says CareerBliss’ chief executive, Heidi Golledge. “Nearly every person has a desire to feel valued and content, and a workplace or a career that provides that for its employees is key to not only happiness for the employees but the long-term success of the business.”

The happiest job of all isn’t kindergarten teacher or dentist. It’s software quality assurance engineer. Professionals with this job title are typically involved in the entire software development process to ensure the quality of the final product. This can include processes such as requirements gathering and documentation, source code control, code review, change management, configuration management, release management, and the actual testing of the software, explains Matt Miller, chief technology officer at CareerBliss.

With an index score of 4.24, software quality assurance engineers said they are more than satisfied with the people they work with and the company they work for. They’re also fairly content with their daily tasks and bosses.

These professionals “typically make between $85,000 and $100,000 a year in salary and are the gatekeepers for releasing high quality software products,” Miller says. Organizations generally will not allow software to be released until it has been fully tested and approved by their software quality assurance group, he adds.

Golledge says, “In past studies, we have noted that the long hours and intense demands on software engineers’ time caused them to rank as less than happy.  However, we are happy to report that software quality assurance engineers feel rewarded at work, as they are typically the last stop before software goes live and correctly feel that they are an integral part of the job being done at the company.”

Tied for the second most blissful job is executive chef and property manager; both earned an index score of 4.15. Executive chefs, also known as chefs de cuisine or head cooks, do everything from menu creation and staff training to ordering and purchasing inventory. They cite the work that they do and the people they work with as the main drivers of their happiness.

Property managers plan, direct, or coordinate the selling, buying, leasing, or governance activities of real estate properties, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Workers in this profession are most satisfied with the people they work with and the work that they do.

“Many of the happiest jobs have some component with working with people,” Golledge says. “Folks who work with others tend to rate their happiness higher on our site.”

Bank teller and warehouse manager round out the top five happiest jobs in America, with index scores of 4.14 and 4.13, respectively.

“The roles that we did not expect to see were teller, accountant and financial analyst,” she says. “Even though all three of these positions ranked low on compensation, they all ranked very high on ‘the company you work for’ and ‘the people you work with.’ Clearly, working with likeminded folks who share a love for calculators and numbers drive their happiness.”

A few support roles, like customer service reps and administrative assistants, also made the list. Why? “Through our research we have seen that many people who take on these roles are typically happy supporting or servicing other people, and are therefore fulfilled in their jobs.”

Golledge adds, “We have also noticed that happiness definitely does not align with pay, and once someone’s basic needs are met, the additional money on the job is a nice perk but is not what drives employee happiness.”

CareerBliss also found that many people appreciate their jobs more in a down economy.  “As the job market is improving every day, we see that employees are looking to evaluate if they are happy in their current position and if their company is providing the type of culture they identify with,” Golledge says. “This year will be a very important year for employers as employees look at a possible career or job change to improve their satisfaction at work.”

Click here for the complete list of the 20 happiest jobs in America.


"The Happiest Jobs In America" Forbes. 23 Feb. 2012. Web. 

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Published in Business
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