Take Advantage of the Outsourcing Trend

Dear, Anita,

I’ve seen in a couple of different places that 33% of businesses will be outsourcing employment. Is this why I can’t find work? Are all the good jobs going overseas? Do I have to give up stability and benefits and become a freelancer to make a living?

Dear, Third Degree,

I found the source of the statistic to which you are referring.  A survey by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) reports that in the next five years, more than a third of organizations expect half of their workforce will be made up of external talent.

But you don’t need to become a freelancer or a consultant to get in on this action. Staffing Industry Analysts touts U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) numbers that show the increase in temporary positions.

Source: Staffing Industry Analysts


To understand this trend, take a look back at recent history. The Great Recession between 2007 and 2009 forced employers to lay off workers by the millions (according to the BLS, 8.8 million jobs were lost in the U.S.). Businesses are understandably cautious about adding jobs, particularly smaller companies who may find recent Affordable Care Act mandates expensive to implement.

Enter employment agencies. Staffing agencies specialize in one or more of three areas: temporary staffing services, personnel placement (often in a specific industry), and executive recruiting. The Select Family of Staffing Companies offers temporary jobs, temp-to-hire positions, or full-time job opportunities.

How Job Seekers Work with Temporary Agencies

A temporary staffing agency actually has two types of clients that it matches up: businesses needing staff and job seekers needing employment. We’ll just look at the job seeker side here.

Inventory_iStock_000017376317_SmallAfter completing an application and proving work eligibility documentation, you’ll likely go through some assessments, skills testing, and interviews to determine your suitability for placement. Once accepted, the staffing company will try to fit your skills with requirements from area employers who may need a temporary for anywhere from a day or two to a long-term temporary assignment (that’s an oxymoron like “jumbo shrimp”).  Businesses often have seasons when they need to ramp up production – think of accounting offices in the first quarter of the year or retail stores taking inventory before year-end.

You’ll actually be an employee of the staffing agency, who will provide your paycheck and take out the appropriate withholding and taxes.  Fees are paid by the hiring companies, so there are no out-of-pocket costs for you (except for your snazzy interview outfit!). Employees are eligible for health care benefits – not from the client company, but from the staffing agency.

Temping is for you if you like a flexible schedule, enjoy diversity of tasks and working environments, need an entrance into a new company or job type, or want to use and increase your current job skills.

Temps: What made you choose to work with a staffing agency?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

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The Bridge from Temping to a Full-Time Position
Graduates: Attempt Temping
I Want this Job to Become Permanent

Move for Money?


I heard on the news that lots of states now have higher minimum wages. Should I quit my entry-level job and move to one of these states to make more money?

Dear, Show Me the Money,

MoneyIt is true that there have been a number of states, as well as cities, who have adopted legislation raising their minimum wage above the Federal mandate.  Eleven states increased their minimum wages in 2014, and as of January 1, 2015 nine more states joined them — for a grand total of 29 states with higher than the current $7.25 federal minimum wage. Some states have scheduled increases, stepping it up gradually. See the list by state.

Before giving your notice, do your homework. Moving to another state is a big step, especially if you don’t have a support system of family and friends in your new hometown. There may be a period of unemployment while settling in, unless you are fortunate enough to work for a large company where transferring to another location is an option. Are you financially prepared with a cushion of savings for a transition period with no income?

Speaking of budgeting, the cost of living in a potential city should be a deciding factor. For instance, while San Francisco’s $11.05 hourly pay rate is higher than the minimum wage for most of California and the U.S., you’ll shell out a whole lot more of your paycheck in the city by the bay. Numbeo has a useful online cost of living comparison  tool that can open your eyes to things you might not think about, like the difference in your monthly utilities or the cost of chicken breasts at the supermarket.  State income taxes vary, too, from no state income tax in six states like Texas, to the highest rate of 13.3% in California. This calculator at WhyNotMove.org uses the difference in various taxes (including property and sales tax) to show you how much you will gain – or lose – by moving to another state.

Change – even for the good – is always stressful.  If and when you do find a new job, you’ll be the “new guy” both at work and in your personal life, hundreds or thousands of miles away from your former home.  Depending on your personality type, this can be the beginning of an exciting adventure or an overwhelming transition.

There are other ways to increase your earning potential, no matter where you live. Further your education, whether through college, a company training program (ask your supervisor about opportunities), or free and low-cost courses on the Internet. See my Back to Class post. Just going the extra mile at your current job can be a pathway to promotion and increased wages.

Readers: Would you move to another state to make better wages?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

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Should We Raise the Minimum Wage?
Back to Class
I Resolve… to Get a New Job
I Resolve… to Get a Raise

Very Superstitious

Dear, Anita,

I manage the business development team, and I have one otherwise stellar sales rep who is superstitious to a fault. Just this week, he refused to book a flight back from a client presentation on Friday, the 13th and cost the company an extra $120 for an alternate flight on Saturday. What recourse do I have?

SuperstitionsDear, Stevie Wondering,

The writing’s on the wall – and there’s probably not much you can do to erase this grown man’s irrational fears. Heck, as many as 85% of buildings skip from the 12th to the 14th floor. Triskaidekaphobia (fear of the number 13) coupled with an ages-old notion that Friday is an unlucky day to begin a journey or project lead to this superstition that survives to this day for 17-21 million people.

Friday the 13th is known as Black Friday in some countries – but not in the out-of-the-red-and-into-profitability denoted by the retail industry in the United States. American businesses actually lose $800-$900 million on Fridays that fall on the 13th, according to Donald Dossey, founder of the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina.

Depending on the stringency of your company’s travel policy, you could require your employee to reimburse you for the difference in airfare. Since you mention that this salesperson is otherwise superior, I would cut him a little slack. We all have our idiosyncrasies. Who hasn’t crossed our fingers to wish for little good fortune? A ladder is much easier to walk around than under – just in case. A coworker may comment that we shouldn’t “jinx” a project by saying how smoothly it’s going. Maybe you have your own “power suit” or lucky tie that you always wear to interviews or important meetings.  Some of the most successful professional athletes have their own superstitious rituals that their managers indulge, and fans celebrate.

Unfortunately, there are two more Friday the 13ths this year – in March and November. So stock up on four-leaf clovers and rabbits’ feet and hope your rainmaker’s sales can weather 2015. Knock on wood.

Readers: What are you superstitious about that might affect your job performance?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

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Understanding and Managing Other Personalities
Perfecting Public Speaking
Becoming the Boss: Advice for New Managers

Functional Format for Résumés

Dear Anita –

I’m unemployed and job hunting. My work experience is in many different areas – Purchasing, Product Management, Operations, HR & Training, Management, Executive Assistant and Accounting. The areas with the most recent experience are probably not the areas I want to pursue. What’s the best way to find a job in a field that I’ve been out of for 7 years or more? What types of résumés work best for this kind of job search? Will I even be considered if my experience isn’t recent?

Multiple_Job_Functions(Small)Dear, Jack of All Trades,

You may want to try a functional résumé format (arranging content according to skills) rather than the traditional reverse chronological listing of your experience.

Who should try this? This format is best suited for:

  • Individuals with multi-industry careers
  • Job seekers wanting to change careers
  • Employees who have held many diverse positions
  • Recent grads with little or no job experience
  • Stay-at-home moms/dads or caretakers of aging parents trying to reenter the workforce
  • Those terminated from position(s)
  • Long-term unemployed wanting to make their gap in employment less noticeable.
  • Older workers who wish to deemphasize a long employment history

So, how do you transform your reverse chronology into a skills-based résumé? First, select the skills that you want to highlight for your desired position. Choose 3-5 broad competencies that you can back up with an impressive number of bullet points. Then using the power phrases I taught you in Better Résumé Words, describe your experience and accomplishments. Remember, this is not chronological, so don’t get hung up when you are mixing and matching proficiencies from multiple positions.

End with a simple listing of companies and dates for Employment History (technically making this a hybrid of functional and traditional résumés). Include Education, if applicable.

The functional/skills-based résumé style is not without its drawbacks, however. Hiring managers may feel like you are trying to hide something – like a gap in your employment history. Note that in our example résumé, only the years are given, which could hide a few months of unemployment, but not large periods such as child-rearing or caregiving for a family member with a lengthy illness.

Another potential hurdle is getting a non-traditional format through the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) so many companies now use to screen applications. Résumé parsing is how the ATS software scans documents (as well as search engines, career websites, and social media) for keywords to populate its applicant database fields without manual entry. While advances in syntactic and semantic parsing are becoming more prevalent among ATS programs, some algorithms may still get confused when they “read” information in a different form than expected. While it will transpose the commonly titled “Experience” easily, it may not find an appropriate field to place your ambiguous “Training” skills header. So don’t offend further with any fancy formatting on a non-traditional résumé. Stick to basic fonts like Ariel, Times, Tahoma, and the like, and swap those bullets on your printed resume with an asterisk (*) or simple dash (-) to prevent them from being converted to strange symbols.

Readers: Have you used a non-traditional résumé format with success?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

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Better Résumé Words
ATS 101: Demystifying Applicant Tracking Systems
Creating a Résumé from Scratch


Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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