NorthBridge Blog

Pat DuganFrankly, there can never be enough support given to our military veterans as they adjust to civilian life, try to launch careers, and are otherwise rewarded with the same kind of opportunities so many of the rest of us take for granted.

That’s why this program, Code Platoon, needs to be recognized for the good work it’s doing on behalf of those vets in the Chicagoland area.

Intended exclusively for vets, the program is an accelerated curriculum that teaches the basics of the Ruby full-stack programming language over the course of 20 weeks of combined remote and in-person training. As a code “boot camp,” it immerses students who have very little or no tech background in both instruction and actual programming, and also supplies them with job counseling, interview prep and employer matching.

technology-1283624_640It’s a necessarily initiative, because post-9/11 veterans find it harder than other jobseekers to land full-time work.
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Pat DuganWhen you think about autonomous/driverless cars - the kind being worked on by Google, Uber, every car company under the sun and (at least until recently) Apple, you think about the Bay Area as being Ground Zero for all that innovation.

Surprisingly, Chicago is also a hot spot for driverless car development, and for job openings that occur because of it. Not Austin, or Detroit: Chicago was in second place behind the Bay Area in terms of new job listings, according to a USA TODAY story that cited data from website Paysa.Automomous Tech Jobs

Cambridge, MA was in third place, with 27 openings; Michigan accounted for only 15 jobs, spread across three cities.

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Pat DuganCare to take a guess? There are a lot of good jobs in the region, especially in the Chicago area, so it’s not that easy. But if you said any of them were in the medical professions, you’d be right on track.

In fact, all five of the jobs at the top of the list (prepared by career site Zippia using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Illinois Department of Employment Security) are in medicine!
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Pat DuganIf you follow all the recent stories about the employment scene in Chicagoland and Illinois, you might have gotten a headache.

Who can blame you?

The stories can seem contrary and confusing…

We can attest to the fact there are companies in Chicago looking to hire. The jobs that are at the top of companies’ lists are as diverse as salespeople, industrial psychologists, actuaries, physical therapists, underwriters and computer research scientists. Construction workers are at a premium, especially.

But Chicago and booming segments and technology-driven industries are only one part of the jobs landscape across Illinois. They haven’t been enough to power a recovery that reaches everybody.
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pat_small2015 was a frustrating year for anyone interested in making headway in jobs growth in Illinois. It wasn’t a disastrous year, but it wasn’t the kind of rebound that’s needed to fuel future prosperity.

In fact, the state lost a net 3,000 jobs in 2015, which isn’t anywhere near the dropoffs of the recent recession, but it wasn’t encouraging – and steep losses in manufacturing, to the tune of 14,000 jobs over the course of the year, show how fragile a recovery can be, especially when it’s impacted by factors well outside the state line.

The main culprit? Exports have slowed as China and Europe’s economies have struggled. That’s affected manufacturing jobs, and Illinois has been one of the states to suffer.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Illinois lost an alarming 16,300 payroll jobs in December alone, which rolled back much of the progress the state made over the rest of the year.

Despite being the most populous state in the region, Illinois is still having a tough time bouncing back, even when there’s a relatively strong national economy, and even markets like Detroit are making gains.

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pat_smallBeyond the many job openings we’re always trying to fill at North Bridge Staffing, we’re always proud to mention when new opportunities open up anywhere across Chicago.

The good news? There are more and more of them happening. It’s a sign of the renewed vitality of the greatest city in America when employers are looking to add workers, like…

pat_smallHere’s a surprising run of statistics that, for some people, show Chicago in an unexpected light: according to a recent report compiled by commercial real estate firm CBRE, Chicago was one of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S. when it came to generating tech jobs as the country emerged from the recession.

Between 2010 and 2013, the number of tech jobs here rose an impressive 25.8 percent. That’s significant not just because they’re good jobs in a region that’s been written off by doomsayers as being inescapably trapped in its “Rust Belt” heritage, but because that rate of growth actually put Chicago in the top three cities in America – actually ahead of New York, L.A. and Atlanta.  Chicago has 133,170 jobs in tech fields, according to CBRE, or about 3.5 percent of all jobs.
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Pat DuganWe’re happy to announce the addition of a new “staffer” at North Bridge, whose job it’ll be to bring the latest job postings, articles on job searching,Bridgette Twitter Card resume preparation, professional presentation, interview tips and more to candidates across Chicagoland.

Her name? Bridgette, and her place of business will be our dedicated Twitter feed, @TheJobsGirl!
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Pat DuganIn the past three months, more people quit their jobs than were laid off…and it’s a good sign for the economy that it’s happening. As recruitment and jobs experts who spoke with The Christian Science Monitor pointed out…

In general, that’s a sign of better economic times,” says Donald Siegel, dean of the school of business at the University at Albany, part of the State University of New York. “I interpret it as a sign of an improving job market … when people feel confident enough to quit their jobs.

This may prove a boon to recruiters, as many of those who are launching themselves on the market may feel confident they’re skilled enough to be attractive hires – leading to a richer and more diversified candidate pool.

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Pat DuganThis article from the Tribune points out how Illinois’ budgetary problems are discouraging one of our most important economic resources from looking for their future here in their home state: college graduates seeking a future in education.

Young, educated workers are critical to keeping growth and progress on the march in any region. Just ask employers and analysts in other cities throughout the “Rust Belt” about what happens when opportunities disappear.  It’s certainly happened over previous decades in Illinois, in towns and cities outside Chicago, as changes have forced young people to go looking elsewhere for good jobs.   Losing smart, capable workers does lasting damage to any region’s ability to rebound or even be fundamentally competitive when times get better.

Education grads are especially important. It’s their passion and enthusiasm that helps to keep the spark alive for students.  But when thousands of education jobs are being cut because of shortfalls, damage is done to everybody’s future…damage that’s very hard to overcome.

Nobody said it’s easy to cope with the current situation from a governance standpoint.  So here’s hoping the legislature and executive branch in Springfield can act wisely in dealing with the state’s fiscal crisis.  They’ve got very hard choices to make, and the sooner we can all come to grips with the consequences, the sooner we can move forward.

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Pat DuganIf you’re an employer – or a staffing consultant – who’s considering placing a temp or contingent employee of any kind, there are a few simple “to-dos” that will make the experience run more smoothly – and rewardingly – for employer and employee alike!

Tip #1: Ask the existing team. They’ll have the best possible information on where and how temporary workers should fit in, and for how long.  And by doing this, you lead into the next tip…

Tip #2: Keep up a dialogue with existing workers about temp hires; employers need to make sure they know who’s being brought on, why, for how long, etc.  Even a secure staffer can be intimidated by the presence of a temp.

Tip #4: Lay it out clearly. Make sure the temp plainly knows what the job is, what the firm’s policies and rules are, and what you expect of them from the get-go.

Tip #4: Who’s in charge here? Be absolutely clear about who they’re reporting to, where their job occurs in a department or company’s org scheme, who they should ask for help or guidance, and so on.  Have their supervisor meet them and help walk them through their job from the minute they arrive at your door!

Tip #5: Ready, set, work! Don’t get caught unprepared on day one of a temp hire’s tenure – have their space, phone, computer, office supplies and everything they need to do their job ready and waiting for them, so they can hit the ground running – and you can get your money’s worth out of them ASAP.

Tip #6: Feedback matters, both to the temp and to the firm you may have used in acquiring that employee.  Look in on the temp regularly, talk about their performance, give them input.  And make sure the staffing company that brought him or her to you is apprised of how they’re doing, too.  If they’re competent and reputable, they want every ounce of feedback they can get from their clients!

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Pat DuganThere’s every chance that more members of the post-recession workforce will be temps, it appears; the difficulties of the recession have made employers cautious, not just in the near term but probably over the long haul as well.  That will mean more temporary positions versus full-time hires, even after the economy improves for many businesses.


This Business Week cover story cites figures from the Iowa Policy Project, a nonpartisan think tank, has estimated that 26% of the U.S. workforce had jobs in 2005 that were in one way or another “nonstandard.”    The trend is, apparently, for that number to grow, because of economic pressures and because more and more businesses are becoming comfortable and experienced with utilizing contingent labor resources versus permanent.


This makes it more important than ever for staffing firms that specialize in temp and temp-to-hire services to stay on the hunt for the best-qualified personnel possible.  With a greater pool of prospective temps out there, it might seem simpler to find a solid candidate, but the cream still rises to the top in any market.  Staffing firms and their clients are still best served by thorough screening of prospects.  Regardless of the state of the overall market, firms are always better off bringing on the highest-caliber contributors available.

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