Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Consumer Confidence, Wall Street, And GMAC

Well according to the associated press, consumers confidence fell to an all time low this December. This comes on the heels of layoffs and deteriorating markets for housing, stocks, and other investments. Deepening job insecurity and falling asset prices are outweighing any optimism that consumers are having with the falling gas prices. With the unemployment rate hitting a 15 year high at 6.7% in November, economist are still not seeing an end in sight with more expected job losses in the first half of 2009. According to the Conference Board Surveys, there are more people right now that believe that the situation is bad than good.

However, nearing the end of a brutal 2008 Wall Street seems to be pointing to a higher open. With so many traders away for the holidays, the market has actually shown small moves in light volume in recent sessions. Investors though are waiting to see the mood of the holidays shoppers and their reluctance to spend to see what their best bets are. The holiday shopping season has been pretty dismal so far and that really has hurt Wall Street because consumer spending accounts for more than two thirds of the US economic activity.

Elsewhere, the government said that it would provide GMAC Financial Services with $5 billion to the funding arm of General Motors Corp. GMAC will receive this as a part of the $700 billion bank rescue plan that will help the company. The Treasury Department is also lending up to $1 billion to General Motors so that it can do a debt for equity swap with GMAC, which seeking to raise additional capital.

So Portland, with the new year fast approaching what are your thoughts on these current events and how they affect you moving forward? Please tell us what you think in the comments below.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Portland Employment Guide December 29th - January 4th

Click on the image below to view a copy of this week's edition of The Employment Guide in Portland.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Portland Employment Guide December 22nd - December 28th

Click on the image below to view a copy of this week's edition of The Employment Guide in Portland.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Oregonians Hit By Increased Spending On Necessities

Many this year are finding what really brings a recession home is that of the weekly draining of the wallet on necessary items such as food and gas. Americans over the last five years have allotted more and more of their budgets to such basics as shelter, health insurance, and gas. Food is usually the one necessity that takes up the biggest chunk of the household budget. For lower income families this can be the biggest obstacle to overcome. Consumers this year, have seen a rise in prices on nearly all necessities, with food being the most noticeable.

This year the Oregonian compared the prices on 15 different items that that traditionally make up a holiday meal between 2008 and 2003. The US average for a holiday meal in 2003 was $83.01 and in 2008 it is $103.78. That is a nearly a $21 dollar difference in five years! However, the Portland area this year was below average on the inflation of food and good and services. Ultimately though shopper may have a surprisingly lower receipt for their groceries in the Portland area, but they also notice that the prices have gone up.

So Portland, are you braving this winter weather we are having to spend your hard earned money on necessary items such as food, gas, or shelter? Is it harder for you to get out and plan your holiday meal? Let us know in the comments section below.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Is The Recession Messing With Your Office Christmas Party?

End of the year celebrations are a good way to boost morale in the office especially when the economy is not in the best shape. However some companies are scaling back or even canceling their Christmas parties. Take Seattle based cruise line Holland America's situation. They were set to have a themed black tie holiday party for 1,800 employees and guests at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center, but had to cancel due to the recession. Instead they are being offered a cookie and caroling social and paid time off to volunteer for the food bank network Northwest Harvest.

However, Yahoo is going through with their holiday party despite the announcement that they will slash 1,500 jobs and their CEO Jerry Yang will step down. Yahoo booked their Christmas party several months back to make sure that they could show appreciation for their employees. Even some companies like Knight Capital Group are going all out for their party.

According to the Chicago-based consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas 77% of the companies polled this year are having Christmas parties which is down from 90% in 2007. So with that being said Portland, what are your office Christmas party plans? Is your company pulling out the all the stops or scaling back? Please let us know in the comments section below.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Portland Employment Guide December 15th - December 21st

Click on the image below to view a copy of this week's edition of The Employment Guide in Portland.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

5 Steps To Thrive In This Recession

With today's economy in flux people need all the help they can get until the situation rights itself. Take a look at this article written by Kevin Wheeler on ere.net about 5 steps you can use to thrive in this recession. The article is written with companies in mind and how they should go about hiring when there are fewer and fewer jobs that are available. Here are the steps:

Action Item #1: Get in Shape

You can’t make much progress in building credibility with management until your own function is in good shape. Recruiters who saw the signs of a recession could have begun trimming the fat in their processes months ago. Get aligned with your management team and cut when they cut, slow down when they slow down, and show them you are aware and responsible.

The last several years of high demand for talent have allowed many recruiting functions to increase their headcounts, add tools and services that are not providing a significant return, and get sloppy in measuring efficiency. This is the time to examine every step in your recruiting process and see where you could be more efficient – in other words do more with fewer resources, less time, or less money. What are you spending on job postings? Could that be reduced? Could you switch to using targeted emails or some other lower cost methods? Where are you spending the majority of your budget? How could you reduce that by 10%? 20%? What can you stop doing that really won’t hurt you?

By prioritizing and cutting, refocusing, and rethinking everything you do, you will end up with a much healthier function. You will better weather the recession and be poised to aggressively deal with the boom that will inevitably come.

Action Item #2: Be Nice

Every act of discourtesy to a candidate will eventually be reflected in how they talk about you to other people. Employment brands are built on small acts – not on the big campaigns or websites. A solid brand is the accumulation of years of good deeds, happy candidates, satisfied managers, and authentic communication. Many candidates will be stressed and perhaps out of a job. They need honest feedback and guidance, if possible, on how they present themselves.

Firms that take the extra time to sit down with a candidate or send them an email and let them know their status, possibilities, and even strengths and weaknesses will reap many benefits in a stronger brand.

Action Item #3: Ruthlessly Focus

Target your marketing and sourcing only on the kinds of people you most need. Cut out or reduce all the resources you spend on marginal activities. For example, you might reduce the use of agencies that recruit volume candidates, stretch out the time to fill less critical positions, or try to use some of the new social networking tools to reach out to certain groups of candidates.

Look at internal hiring and see if there isn’t a way to improve the number of employees who move. Talk to management about increasing that number and decrease external hiring.

The goal should be to attract mostly the types of candidates you need and who are qualified. You can use this slower time to experiment on messaging, screening techniques, and on ways to get fewer but better candidates.

Action Item #4: Use Technology – Experiment!

As always, I harp on using technology whenever you can. Social networking tools can help you create and build relationships with candidates. Most are very inexpensive or free.

Experiment with better, more frequent emails to certain candidates on your shortlist; create a newsletter or blog to give interested potential candidates updates on your organization; and experiment with tools such as twitter, broadlook, or checkster.

Action Item #5: Build Relationships

I am more and more convinced that posting job descriptions is an archaic process. While I have no doubt that the practice will live on for a long time, it is not the best, cheapest, or fastest way to find good people.

Using technology to develop relationships and to communicate regularly with a selected and screened pool of candidates is the key to your real success.

In general, you are going to find only a few of the people you need by posting on Monster or any other job board. The most successful recruiters use their network, ask employees (and others) for referrals, and focus on building communities of potential candidates. This is what agencies and headhunters have been doing for decades and it’s why they have been successful.

Learn from product and service marketing how to do a better job. Watch how some leading organizations are using social media to attract and recruit candidates. Begin to generate candidates from relationships formed online. Make it a rule of thumb that if you are generating hundreds of responses to a job posting, you are doing something terribly wrong.

I guarantee that if you do all five of these things in an organization that is well-managed, you will survive this recession and become an example of how to positively deal with stressful times.

So Portland, tell us what your hiring strategies are or your tips for thriving in this recession. Employers and employees are welcome to post their comments in the section below.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Portland Employment Guide December 8th - December 14th

Click on the image below to view a copy of this week's edition of The Employment Guide in Portland.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Oregon's New State Budget Plan And Washington Mutual

Governor Ted Kulongoski revealed four tax increase packages set to boost the economy by adding 30,000 jobs from increased spending on transportation, construction, and health care for the poor. Kulongoski's proposal calls for about $54.17 billion in total spending, which is up about 12.1% from the current two year period. The general fund will be mostly funded by income taxes and would total $15.85 billion which would be a growth rate more in line with inflation.
Kulongoski believes that the budget will help Oregon prosper once the recession finally ends. Though this would hurt elderly and low income residents right now if these increases get approved. Ultimately this would mean that seniors and disabled people could lose state paid aides and access to long term care. Low income residents would no longer be eligible for cash assistance in finding a job. This is a plan that Kulongoski sees moving the state of Oregon forward even though it is not involving everyone.

In other northwest news, Washington Mutual is slashing 3,400 jobs in Seattle as the result of the company's banking operations being sold to JP Morgan Chase & Co. None of the 190 branches in the state of Washington will be closed, but with 80% of the jobs in the Seattle market closing for Washington Mutual it does not help the job market situation. Of the 3,400 jobs that are being terminated in Seattle, 1,500 will be eliminated on January 31st. The 1,900 will be be in transition jobs that will disappear on various dates throughout 2009.

So Portland and the Northwest, tell us your thoughts on the new tax proposal or the situation with Washington Mutual in the comments sections below.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Portland Employment Guide December 1st - December 8th

Click on the image below to view a copy of this week's edition of The Employment Guide in Portland.