Catching up with Bert Wendeln
Grocery retail jobs growing, expert says
By Sharon Smith | Monday, August 23, 2010
People hear that the economy is slowly on the mend, but they have not seen that translate into lower unemployment. Bert Wendeln, president and CEO of The Carlisle Group, a privately held global executive search and recruitment firm in Carlisle, keeps track of the local employment situation in real time. Recently, Wendeln answered questions submitted by The Patriot-News about the midstate job market.
Q: Unemployment has remained high nationally and in the midstate during the last six months. Recently, the rate has actually gone up with more people re-entering the workforce. Your company issued a statement indicating that your firm expects continued employment growth in several sectors in 2010. Can you explain what you mean by this?
A: While we’ve experienced a decrease in certain sectors, other industries are doing well in response to the current economy. For example, many exempt and non-exempt manufacturing workers have lost jobs since the start of this “Great Recession.”
However, grocery retail has done better in the down-turned economy. This may be to the detriment of the restaurant business, but folks are driven to eat more often at home when money is tight. Certainly, the midstate has lost a number of manufacturing jobs, but we’re seeing positive trends in global manufacturing organizations. A number of the largest companies have recently reported their move to “re-shore jobs,” meaning they’re bringing a number of manufacturing jobs back to US soil.
The companies that have weathered the storm still need top talent following attrition and/or the inevitable restructuring that happens in a compressed economy. Our firm works primarily on recruiting for senior-level positions, and the unemployment rate has recently decreased to 4.5% among the college-educated workforce. We see this trend continuing through 2012 and beyond.
Q: What sectors do you expect to see employment growth?
A: In addition to the uptick in the grocery retail industry that we’ve experienced across the country, our firm has experienced an increased number of executive placement needs within the insurance, healthcare and manufacturing industries. In fact, CNN Money reported in early August that the manufacturing employment index reported a recent jump in hiring. This follows 12 consecutive months of upward growth trends (albeit slow moving growth) in the manufacturing industry. And many of our small to mid-size regional and mutual insurance clients have seen growth through new product development and expansion. We also anticipate growth in these sectors: life sciences, biotech, healthcare technologies and alternative energy technologies.
Q: Your firm is working on a large-scale recruitment project for retailer Ahold USA Retail. Can you provide more details on that? Can you name any other clients your firm is working with?
A: Ahold USA Retail has been a client of TCG since 1998. We are currently supporting them to relocate their procurement and merchandising functions across all four divisions to the Giant of Carlisle office. The relocation is creating immediate benefit within the real estate, hospitality and travel industries as individuals visit the area to make relocation decisions and then ultimately fully transition to midstate residents.
We’ve served many of the largest names within healthcare, managed care, insurance, logistics, manufacturing, grocery retail, food service, sales/marketing, higher education and the banking/finance industries. Read TCG client testimonials online]
Q: Recently, you attended a regional conference and learned that national recruitment firms are reporting sharp increases in the first quarter of 2010. You made a statement that things are moving again and that turnover may indeed jump in the coming months. Can you elaborate on that? What should businesses do to prepare for that?
A: We’ve entered a new era where loyalty has been lost between employers and employees. The average employee tenure has been reduced to 3-5 years with the same organization. Then take into account the number of employees that have been landlocked with limited opportunities coupled with the widespread changes to employee benefits during these economic hard times. It’s no wonder we’re facing the highest employee dissatisfaction rate we’ve seen since our firm’s inception. As organizations stabilize in 2010, they’ll need to be extremely conscientious and quick to rebuild damaged employee relationships.
Q: If you are someone who has been out of work for a while or someone who just lost their job, how can you capitalize on a positive shift on the employment front?
A: Today more than ever, finding a job is a full-time job. An unemployed individual will need to spend upwards of 40 hours a week pursuing opportunities. Some will come in the form of posted job openings, but many others will come from networking and referrals. Feel free to think outside the box in regard to networking and marketing your skill set. It’s critical to cast a wide net that extends outside traditional means of job hunting. However, remember to hold fast to traditional reasoning regarding your level of professionalism as you present yourself and your background in the market. Here in the midstate, most organizations have a conservative culture and will value your traditional approach to business.
You’ll also increase your opportunities in the potential job market exponentially based on your flexibility. Remain alert for opportunities to translate your experience into new avenues; be cautious about too narrowly defining your areas of expertise. There are a number of options for government-funded retraining or continuing education, and a new career path may be the best route for you. Finally, while we understand that housing markets are tight and many people face challenges while considering relocation – the willingness to relocate for the right opportunity is a positive in this competitive environment.