NorthBridge Blog

What to expect in the 2018 job market. Lucky for us, an increase in jobs!

According to Crains, health sciences and information technology sectors see the greatest ten-year increase by 2018. Illinois itself looks at nearly 7 million jobs in the 2018 year. California, Florida, New York, and Texas take the lead just in front of us as we rank 5th in terms of total jobs in 2018.

“The number of health sciences positions are expected to jump 25% during the ten-year period to about 570,000, while jobs in business, management and administration are seen as comprising the largest cluster, representing about 41% of the Illinois workforce.”

Even better news for 2018 graduates: “College graduates, especially, will see a strong boost in their job prospects. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, employers plan to hire 4 percent more members from the Class of 2018 than from the previous graduating cohort.”

With the New Year kicking off, there are 5 trends to be looking out for throughout the course of the year.

1. Artificial Intelligence is changing the future of work

As you may now notice in a few places you order your food on a kiosk without the help of anyone. Food chains and warehouses are starting to use more automated order pickers. This trend will accelerate this coming year.

2. Modernization of mobile job applications

Companies will begin to create tools that will allow people to apply for jobs though their phone. Apply on the go!

3. Job growth in healthcare, technology, and labor-intensive roles

Essentially positions that don’t make sense to automate will grow.

4. Increased transparency in the application and interview process

“I will keep your resume on file.” This year employers will put more visibility into the application and status of the job in real time. No more waiting and receiving nothing! Let’s hope.

5. Encouraging employee passions through role experimentation

With wanting to support and retain employees, companies will find ways you create more specific jobs outside of the role. In order to do that, these positions will suit their abilities and encourage their passions.

If these trends follow through, we will have to be the judge. New Year, New Job Market. Happy 2018!

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generationsMillennials: The largest living generation, now up against the current generation, Gen Z.  Both generations contain a few similarities, but many differences. “These differences are sure to prompt additional adjustment when it comes to leadership, recruiting, parenting, and marketing.” How will Gen Z rank compared to Millennials in the work force?

Millennials are often described as money spenders all because of the avocado toast phase. If you are unaware, avocado toast is exactly what it sounds like- avocado, on a piece of toast. Have you tried avocado toast? Are you outside of the millennial era? People spend thousands of dollars on coffee every year, what’s the difference.

Millennials also classified as: Thinking it’s cool not to care and being so absorbed in social media that they are socially illiterate. But we are forgetting about all the positives that came from millennials. Millennials are known for being a voice of their own. They may be absorbed in social media, but they are very tech savvy and express themselves through pictures.

“By now, the oldest millennials are 35. They aren’t children anymore – in fact, a majority of them are leaders with decision-making power and direct reports.”

On the other hand Generation Z is, “Growing up in a healthier economy and appear eager to be cut loose. They don’t wait for their parents to teach them things or tell them how to make decisions. Gen Z is already out in the world, curious and driven, investigating how to obtain relevant professional experience before college.” But what does this mean for the work force?

Defined as anyone born after 1995, Generation Z is marked by crisis. 9/11 and two economic recessions. With watching the struggle of the job market, Gen Z is defined to be more careful when it comes to finances. Much like many Millennials, Gen Z has never lived in a world without cell phones, computers, and the internet.

Gen Z is already stepping into entry-level jobs, how will this generation work? Ryan Jenkins, a next generation speaker shares how Generation Z differs from Millennials: more pragmatic, more cautious, more money conscious, more face-to-face, less noticed, more global, more individualistic, more tech dependent, less parented, more early-starts, more disruptive, more multi-tasking, less focused, and more entrepreneurial.

Less focused but more entrepreneurial…how does that work? Alexandra Levit stated, “Even if you’re a small operation, you can still have a Gen Z internship program. These children are so mature and they learn so fast, they might just be ready to take over by the time they’re 22.”

Ryan Jenkins shared the similarities between the two.

-”Both generations are extremely interested in building their personal brand by gaining transferable skills that they cant ake to any job or leverage to become an entrepreneur.”

-”60% of Generation Z wants to have an impact on the world. And 84% of Millennials say making a difference in the world is more important than professional recognition.”

-”The most important workplace factor for Generation Z is opportunity for advancement. The #1 reason Millennials leave organizations is due to lack of career opportunity.”

Do you believe that these are true difference and similarities between the two? Are you a millennial that doesn’t fit into the stereotype? Share your opinion. Ambitious, ready for a change, need a new opportunity, check out our open positions at

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pat_smallIt’s all about the jobs, of course, as the candidates to follow Mayor Daley all trot out their various ideas on how to generate jobs and growth for the city and region.

Rather than be cynical about their podium-pounding (let’s not forget how our town got the name, “Windy City”), let’s just hope they’re able to maintain the balance we’ve seen in recent times — with business-friendly policies, strong investments in municipal improvements, and real efforts to attract and retain corporate citizens who do good for the community and the economy.

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pat_smallMany people, even some HR professionals, don’t realize there aren’t many places with laws or regulations — or any at all, in some states — to govern what constitutes an “employment agency.”  That means the individual with little or no real training can hang out a shingle and call themselves a “recruiter,” and try to present themselves on the same footing as the established agency with resources, experience, top-notch personnel and a sense of professional responsibility.

What are the implications for companies — and job seekers? They’ve all got to ask the right questions, and vet the prospective recruiter just as diligently as they would each other.  A few tips on how to separate the fly-by-nighter from established pros:

One good rule of thumb is to ask if they’ve got any professional certifications;  some certifications require only a modest amount of effort to obtain, but it’s still an indication they did something to earn that shingle.

References – we’ve brought it up before: it may be the best way of judging a potential recruiter.    If they’re truly professional, they should have no problem giving you a list of satisfied clients.

Promises, promises? No honest professional will make blue-sky promises to you, as a client or a candidate.  They’ll give you an honest appraisal, but the truth of the matter is that in any professional counseling-based business, you don’t count chickens before they’re hatched.  Anyone who promises you the moon and the sky is doing it to play on your sympathies or situation.

If it smells bad, it is. There are too many good, honest recruitment professionals in the business for you to deal with anyone who seems the least bit iffy.    They may not be dishonest, just inexperienced or unqualified — but there are still plenty of sound options out there for a candidate or company that wants to trust its employment future to a trustworthy resource!

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Pat DuganWe’re happy to say we’ve been recognized with an Award of Merit in the Company Web Site category for our recently-updated Web site, in the 2010 American Staffing Association VOICE Awards!

As the ASA Web site explains,

“ASA member companies were recognized for the vision, originality, innovation, creativity, and effectiveness (VOICE) of their communications campaigns.”

This national annual awards program recognizes the best ASA member communications campaigns in 16 categories, from direct mail to public service.Voice10-3C

We’ve had nothing but compliments about our site, which was developed by our friends at Biersma Creative.  It’s not only contemporary and logical to navigate, but it’s rich with detail about our people and our services, and (we think) projects a real “sense of place” about our being a Chicago-based company that knows and understands the staffing market here in our hometown.  Plus, we’ve designed it to provide a reliable source of information and counsel for both companies and candidates.

A complete list of winners will be published in an upcoming issue of Staffing Week newsletter, and more about the competition and the judges will be featured in the November–December 2010 issue of Staffing Success magazine.

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pat_smallThere are various theories as to why the jobs picture hasn’t been as positive as some have hoped.  The most recent unemployment figures posted by the government show only a modest improvement.  That’s largely because employers — and consumers — don’t entirely trust the recovery that seems to be underway, and are wary about spending — which means companies have to keep it lean and mean.

For staffing and recruitment firms, it obviously means embracing strategies that let them meet employers’ needs for highly-qualified and capable people who must fit into temporary or qualified positions.   But they also need to be mindful of the fact that the picture may change — upward or, unfortunately, downwards (if there’s a “double dip” recession), and they’ll have to make the corresponding changes right in stride in order to stay competitive!

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Pat DuganIt’s yet another sign the jobs market is making upward headway: the number of jobs for recruitment professionals is apparently on the rise, after a couple of rocky years.

In many cases, companies that downsized their staffing and recruitment capabilities are now trying to “re-build capacity and expertise quickly,” as one expert puts it.

One of the negative impacts of the downturn, for those companies and staffing firms that elected to cut personnel, is the loss of valuable expertise that’s a difficult commodity to come by even in healthy times.  It’s one of the reason North Bridge Staffing is glad to say we came through the past couple of years in relatively good shape, thanks to the quality of our team and the foresight of our clients.

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Pat DuganHere’s a relevant survey by that puts numbers to something that nearly anyone in recruitment and staffing has observed or themselves instituted: the practice of using the social networking aspects of the Web to evaluate potential hires.

What that means for those firms, for staffing consultants and for jobseekers is that there may very well be reasons not to hire an individual, reasons that have nothing to do with his or her resume or stated experience – and everything to do with what they post or reveal via the Internet.

Here are some of the reasons cited in the survey for not making a hire, based on what surveyed employers discovered by checking prospects’ profiles and posts on social media sites:

  • Candidate posted provocative or inappropriate photographs or information – 53 percent
  • Candidate posted content about them drinking or using drugs – 44 percent
  • Candidate bad-mouthed their previous employer, co-workers or clients – 35 percent
  • Candidate showed poor communication skills – 29 percent
  • Candidate made discriminatory comments – 26 percent
  • Candidate lied about qualifications – 24 percent
  • Candidate shared confidential information from previous employer – 20 percent

What a prospect posts on Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn or other sites is perfectly fair game for any staffing consultant or HR person who wants to make a comprehensive investigation of an applicant.

There’s also good advice here for jobseekers: the barrier between our “public” and “private” selves is pretty thin on the Web.  The offhand gripe about your last boss that you post today may very well come back to haunt you tomorrow.

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Are employers and staffing firms properly positioned for an improvement in the job market? It can be a mixed blessing if you’re not prepared.

Just one of the complications is skills scarcity, as the most qualified and valuable prospective hires find their talents are in greater demand and go off the market. Whether you’re a staffing firm or an employer, you might find yourself really scrambling to fill positions with good, qualified people — if you haven’t been laying proper groundwork ahead of time.

There are a few simple questions any smart HR department or staffing firm should ask itself about its preparedness for a job market uptick of lasting duration:

  1. Do we have a plan in place? Be certain you — and your team — have a strategy in hand to guide you in sourcing and recruiting the right prospects when the need arises. Remember, waiting until only the actual moment you need them most means you’ll have to make last-second choices – not advisable in any business situation.
  2. Are we willing to scale up our staffing team? If there’s a sudden influx of job requisitions, possibly even a new slew of clients to handle if you’re a staffing firm, do you have the personnel on board it’ll take to maintain solid due diligence?
  3. Are we willing to invest in staffing skills? You should always be looking to strengthen your hand; whether you’re an employer or a consultant, you should stay on top of the latest training and work resources available that can help your staffing team succeed.
  4. Are we keeping the prospect file full? Even if you’re not in hiring mode, always be sure to stay abreast of what roles you might have to fill if the situation changes – and try to maintain outside staffing resources or a database of prospects that can give you a quick head start when you do need to put hires in place.
  5. Are we jumping the gun in hiring full-timers? Temp and temp-to-hire personnel are probably still a wise option to keep in mind, unless you’re absolutely positive about your business prospects in the upcoming year.

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Pat DuganThe national unemployment picture is getting a little better, according to the Department of Labor, and as shown in this graphic at Fast Company.   While the heartland and east are still suffering (Pennsylvania is especially hard-hit), there’s reason to hope (see our earlier posts) that the situation may get better soon for people seeking jobs in Chicago.  But even while a recession endures, companies and shouldn’t entirely give up the hunt for talent, or at least for information on what talent is out there.  Why?

Recession is a leveler, too; your competitors are hurting if you’re hurting, and may have laid off good people who could help your firm, either now or when the economy permits hires.  So you can level the playing field versus your competition – or even take the high ground — by getting out in front on skilled prospects who fit your business, before they’re snapped up by other firms or called back by their previous employer.

Information is power.  Knowing what talent is available and knowing the costs of acquisition of that talent if times turn for the better are simply part of smart, long-term planning.  The more data you have on the talent pool, the more quickly and accurately you can act when the time comes.   It’s part of the contingency plans every company should lay out.

To paraphrase Daniel Burnham, make no little plans for your future; even if you’re cutting your staff right now, keep your eye on near-term or longer-term staffing needs, whether permanent, temp-to-hire or temporary.

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Pat DuganThanks for checking out Building Bridges, our new blog about Chicago staffing and recruitment matters.  It’s hot on the heels of our new Web site re-design (thanks to Biersma Creative), and it’s part of our effort to leverage every tool in the digital and social media playbook to deliver better client services and elevate our presence.  That’s important in any competitive market, but particularly in the Chicago staffing industry.  Frankly, our bread-and-butter is in attracting qualified employees, and then making it expedient for employers to bring them on board, and state-of-the-art digital outreach is part of that.


As we head into what looks like a promising 2010, we’ll be posting links to articles of note, offering insights and opinions about the Chicagoland recruitment situation, plus the occasional post about our clients and our staff, good people all.


It hasn’t been the best of times for the economy in general, or Chicago in particular.   But as we move ahead, we’re seeing signs of optimism and recovery.  We’re pretty certain we can count on the resilience and hard work of area businesses and skilled employees to make the most of the opportunities that arise, and maximize staffing growth throughout an upswing. 


Chicago being Chicago, there’ll be interesting new stories and new opportunities to cite as time goes on.   So we hope to bring you more and more ‘good news’ as North Bridge and the Chicago staffing scene move forward – stay tuned!

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