Unemployment rates are a measure of those who are actively looking for a job but fail to find it.
In the Mid Hudson Valley, the unemployment rate has returned to roughly where it was before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
And yet, businesses across the region are scrambling to fill vacancies and keep existing employees in a market of job seekers.
At the start of a third year of a pandemic that has changed the way business is done, it is the “Great Resignation” of 2021, during which workers quit their jobs and pledge to seek a better work-life balance. privacy, which shapes employment. countryside.
“It really puts a lot of pressure on businesses,” said Sandra Jackson, owner of the staffing firm Express Employment Professionals in Poughkeepsie. “A lot of people are looking for remote work. People are looking for flexibility in the hours. “
In response, many companies are increasing wages, offering incentives, or offering more flexibility in scheduling than in the past, in order to attract the right candidate.
Still, there are those who say they can’t find the right job. Career counselors say it’s because the process has changed. Getting hired can now depend on networking and building a personal brand, rather than just submitting a resume.
Normal employment agreements have also changed, with many jobs now a hybrid combination of in-person and remote responsibilities.
But it’s unclear how permanent these changes will be. Jackson said it might also be worth it for job seekers to lock down a position when conditions are favorable.
For students about to enter the market, these anomalous conditions can be intimidating. But, local colleges have adapted to prepare students for this unique job market.
“It’s moved to a virtual space,” said Mark McFadden, director of the SUNY New Paltz Career Resource Center, noting that the highly contagious variant of COVID-19 omicron “has continued to reinforce the need to move quickly between virtual interactions and in person. “
Unemployment, a market for job seekers
Unemployment in the Dutchess-Putnam region was 3.4% in November 2021, according to the latest data from the State Department of Labor. In contrast, the unemployment rate in November 2020 was 5.3%.
The unemployment rate last November for the town of Poughkeepsie was 4.9%, the town of Poughkeepsie was 3.1%, Wappingers Falls was 3.3% and East Fishkill was 3.7%, according to the Ministry of Labour.
Jackson said this, coupled with a large number of openings among employers, has led to increased benefits and incentives.
“A lot of my clients have increased their hourly rates,” she said. “We are also seeing a lot more flexibility in terms of planning.”
At Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp., the company did more work to highlight the benefits employees would receive, including hybrid work models, a tuition assistance program, and advancement opportunities. .
Joseph Jenkins, spokesperson for Central Hudson, said the company has also changed its outreach methods, focusing on technology-driven strategies.
“We have adapted to virtual job interviews, which has helped speed up turnaround times while providing an added measure of security as we continue to navigate this pandemic,” he said. “Another area that has emerged is the role of social media in promoting employment and how we facilitate communication between the company and the interviewee. The participation and organization of virtual outreach and recruitment events has increased the number of candidates that we are able to reach. “
Hudson Valley Credit Union, another major employer in the area, has also taken steps to highlight perks, such as a new health insurance option and signing bonuses of up to $ 1,000, according to Diane Allenbaugh, senior vice-president of human resources and organizational development for the caisse.
“Like everyone else, we have had difficulty filling positions, but it is very important for us to hire people who share our core values,” she said. “We are a service-oriented company, always keeping the focus on providing exceptional service to members. “
Preparing the next generation
McFadden believes much of the advice from the Career Resource Center remains relevant, but the pandemic has changed the context in which these skills can be applied.
Much like the switch to remote work, remote interviews and the switch to online platforms have affected the hiring process. Companies of all sizes have also implemented automatic tracking systems to better streamline this process, McFadden said.
“We help our students prepare resumes and cover letters that integrate well with these systems, hopefully helping them take the process to the next level,” he said.
At Marist College in Poughkeepsie, Career Services focus on virtual fairs and information sessions, giving students the opportunity to continue to network even in the midst of the pandemic.
Desmond Murray, associate director of employer experience at Marist, said there is an increasing emphasis on virtual formats for every step of the way.
“The traditional face-to-face interviews in the first round have become less relevant,” he said. “Therefore, we regularly assist students with virtual interview simulations via Zoom.”
However, Murray adds that one factor remains relevant whether people meet in person or online: connections.
“These connections can be timeless and very decisive for their future professional success,” he said.
How to get the job
Around the region, there is a plethora of jobs available, and more are on the way. Large-scale projects like the Amazon warehouse in Fishkill and the Bellefield campus in Hyde Park promise to create hundreds of new jobs in the years to come.
However, many of these positions may not be the desirable jobs the “Big Resign” generation is looking for. Joe Hannigan, 32, of Walden, says it’s a point of frustration.
“It looks like there are more options than ever before, not that I’ve been more successful than before,” Hannigan said. “It looks like there are a lot of different opportunities in all types of fields, but I’m not saying jobs are better. There are just more.
Hannigan recently found temporary construction work, which put his job search on hold, but said he has applied for countless jobs in various industries over the past few months. While he loves working in construction, he said he’s looking for something full-time, stable, and with benefits so he can start a family.
“Despite all the jobs I applied for, I didn’t get a lot of contact,” he said, acknowledging that this was a problem before the labor shortage. “Sometimes it’s difficult to get certain jobs and the communication isn’t as open as you would like. “
Perhaps this is because the traditional way of impressing an employer has changed.
Crystal Barrow, career coach at White Plains, said a resume, cover letter or LinkedIn profile should show what specifically resulted from a candidate’s actions in a previous job – not just listing general responsibilities .
“What contributions have you made? Did you rationalize something? Have you developed something? Did you improve something? What value do you bring? That’s what matters to employers, ”said Barrow, owner of Shape Your Success Coaching.
Networking is essential. When Barrow talks to people who’ve been hired nine out of 10 times it’s “Oh, I networked him”, thanks to an introduction from someone else, maybe who already works at the potential employer.
“I tell people these days, you have to be someone’s go-to – a lot of employers go to their employees first before spending a lot of money on advertising” to find someone there. ‘suitable exterior for a position, Barrow said.
Other tips from Barrow:
- Contact the person hiring to have a conversation, introduce yourself.
- Some employers give sign-up bonuses and hear from applicants on topics such as flexible hours. “So I say to people: know what you want, be ready to ask for it and have confidence in asking for it,” Barrow said. “You might be pleasantly surprised. “
- In pursuing your career goals, have someone hold you accountable for following up on what you set out to do – some sort of accountability partner, coach, expert “or someone who is committed. really to see you move the needle in the direction you want to go. “
“This responsibility is essential for you to move forward,” Barrow said, “to keep your confidence in yourself”.
Editors Michael P. McKinney and Erin Nolan contributed to this report Geoffrey Wilson: [email protected]; 845-437-4882; Twitter: @GeoffWilson_