As of June this year, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. has a record 6.2 million job openings. It’s the highest number since the Labor Department began tracking job postings in 2000.

In contrast, there are 7 million jobless Americans. That’s more than one unemployed person for every available job. To the novice pundits, this is the employment equivalent of The Employment Perfect Storm. Simply connect the jobless with the jobs, and like magic, the problem is solved and the U.S. jobless issue is solved.

Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. There are two major disconnects within the job market: The unemployed people do not have the skills needed by employers, for example, they are unqualified, and workers complain that the wages are too low.

Essentially, there are barely any qualified workers for their job openings. In many cases, there isn’t a single qualified worker for many positions.

The disconnect between employers and the unemployed go beyond the lack of the needed skill sets. According to the NFIB Small Business Survey, CEOs have adopted the mindset that there are not many good workers left to choose from. Their life skills, not their lack of skill sets, are negatively impacting their ability to be employed. Too many workers these days show up drunk or high on drugs, managers say. Or they refuse to work late or on weekends. Unlike previous generations, workers are not willing to pay their dues, so to speak.

Lack of skillset, combined with a perceived lack of job dedication, leaves employers with few options. Some manufacturers are bringing in robots.

The supply of workers between the ages of 25 and 54 stunted. In this age bracket, 18 percent of workers are not gainfully employed. When one out of five workers in this prime age category are opting out of the workforce, essentially 2.5 million people that would have been working in the 1990s are no longer available to employers, according to the Lindsay Group in Virginia.

On the other side of the equation is the needs of the employees, and they feel that employers are not paying a fair and reasonable wage. Wages are barely growing. Companies have to increase their wages if they want better talent.

Times have changed and employers have been slow to react, embracing outdated thought processes they developed during the Great Recession. In that time frame, there were almost seven unemployed people for every job opening. Businesses could afford to be selective and offer lower salaries.

As the U.S. Department of Labor report indicates, the situation is dramatically different today. The job seeker to job opening ratio is 1-to-1. This type of tight labor market should result in an increase in worker wages by companies that must fill their job openings. That has not happened.

Why is that? The devil is in the data. The U.S. Government projects that five of the 10 jobs that will grow the fastest over the next decade pay less than $25,000 a year. The jobs have titles such as personal care aide, home health aide, and food preparer. These types of jobs do not require extensive post-secondary education. Even entry-level CNC machinist’s positions do not require years of schooling.

The result is a vicious cycle: Companies don’t pay enough to attract workers, and workers do not invest in their skill sets to justify higher wages to employers. The result is that both sides complain that neither side is fair to the other side.

To create change, something must give. Businesses may need to be less picky and, in some cases, employees will need to work off-shifts and overtime. Both sides need to work together to bridge this employment gap.

Employers need to invest in basic, on-site training to get inexperienced workers up to speed. Then, take things a step further to create a culture that attracts people. Build a workforce community, not just a job.

President Trump talks about wanting to create 25 million new jobs. The issue isn’t the job openings—there are plenty. The issue is training people for jobs that are at a livable wage and job seekers taking responsibility for their investment in their potential careers from a hard and soft skills perspective.

Every month, the media comments on the monthly unemployment numbers released by the federal government. The unemployment number dropped almost every month last year, which the media has been proclaiming is a good thing. In December, the unemployment rate dropped another 0.3 percentage points to 6.7 percent, the lowest unemployment rate since October 2008. The unemployment rate dropped because over half a million people dropped out of the labor force, not because the economy is necessarily stronger. The unemployment rate’s dramatic decline is due primarily to people no longer being counted. The ranks of the employed have only increased 1.4 million over the past year while the population that’s no longer part of the workforce has swelled by almost 3 million.

What the media and economists really should be looking at instead of the unemployment rate is the labor participation rate.  Americans not in the labor force exploded higher by 535,000 to a new all-time high at 91.8 million. Considering that most employees in manufacturing jobs are baby boomers, manufacturers should be on high alert.

As of December, the Labor Department reports that 62.8 percent of Americans had a job or were actively seeking work. That’s the lowest level since April 1978—almost 36 years ago. The number of people not in the labor force increased by 525,000 persons.

For those claiming the low labor participation rate is made up of only retired people, the website proved that false by analyzing labor participation rates by age. Bottom line: The dramatic increase of those not in the labor force is not due to baby boomers retiring. People are not finding jobs and dropping off of the unemployed radar map.

The research showed that the problem is only going to get worse, with retirements accounting for two-thirds of the decline of participation rate by 2020. In other words, the rate will keep declining, no matter how well the economy does.

The number of Americans working or actively seeking work has actually fallen faster than demographers had predicted, and the participation rate for workers between ages 16 and 54 fell sharply during the recession and still hasn’t recovered. Part of the reason for the latter may be that people are not entering the workforce at the same rate, in part because they are spending more time getting an education. My fear is that, by misreading the trends in labor force participation now, policymakers might feel a false sense of security about the state of American job creation. By ignoring the vanishing workforce for the last 10 years or so, policymakers underestimated the weakness of the American economy. We don’t know why almost 4 million workers vanished before the recession. Why would we assume that the 4 million who left after the recession will eventually return?

Barclays economists, meanwhile, say only 15 percent of the drop in the labor force stems from people who want a job and are of prime working age (25-54). “We view the possibility of a large and sudden return of previously discouraged job seekers to the labor force as remote,” they wrote. While I understand Barclays’ pessimism, I see a huge upside for private manufacturing employers.

Savvy employers can create mentor and training programs, regardless of the business they are in. I feel that there is an enormous opportunity for the private sector to capture the disengaged, discouraged workforce and find ways to infuse them with hope and opportunity at your place of business.

Manufacturers will need to take a strategic initiative approach and invest in marketing/PR programs to intrigue the disengaged job seeker, and then create a career path that shows them the financial and personal rewards of working in manufacturing.

Once people are infused with a brighter future, they will be the best recruiting force on the street for new employees. As the data shows, these people are being ignored by the government, creating an opportunity for private businesses to make a huge difference in the lives of these people, impacting both the business and the local community.

As Many As 31 Million Skilled Trades Positions Will Be Available by 2020

When I was a kid growing up in the 1980s, my parents drilled into my head, “Go to college to get a good job.” The implication being, if I earned a four-year degree, a good-paying job would follow. The interpretation is very different from within the academic world according to college educators I speak to.

The New Perception of College From Within


As the New Year begins, many of us take inventory of our lives and look for ways of improvement. Besides joining a gym or signing up for a language class, one area where some decide a change is necessary is in their careers. In my book, The Job Search Process, I outline eight key points to land your dream job. Rather than cover the tried-and-true categories of resume writing or how to behave yourself in an interview, I focus on one overlooked area job seekers minimize: how to look for a job. So, for those looking for a new career, here is a guide to conducting a job search tailored for you.


It all starts with commitment. If you are currently employed, pledge a minimum of 10 hours per week to look for a new job. If you don’t have a job, commit to spending 40 hours per week. Nothing derails your job search faster than a lack of personal responsibility for completing your dream job search.

Use your inner-circle for networking

Share with friends and family you are in the job market. Consider making a declaration to yourself and then share it with others. For example, if you are unemployed, it goes like this: “I am going to spend 40 hours every week following my dream job search process until I have a job which will take care of my family and me”. There is tremendous power in using the phrases, “I am” and “I will.” By sharing your declaration with those closest to you, they will now feel included in your process and will be an even stronger support system for you.

A second benefit of telling people you are active in the new job market is they can refer you to companies they know are hiring. Expand beyond your circle of friends and family. Tell everyone you know or meet you are in a job search. Referrals are the number one way to get a job. Only 15% of jobs available are posted, listed, or advertised.

“I am going to spend 40 hours every week following my dream job search process until I have a job which will take care of my family and me”.

Use strategic planning to stand out in a crowded job market

It is shocking the general public believes every job is posted on Monster or Career Builder. The opposite is the truth.

Separate yourself from the jobs with the most significant amount of competition. Instead, look for a dream job strategically. Move away from the masses. There is no quicker, or more direct method to connect a person to their next position, than through someone who knows it exists.

One unique idea I saw from a dream job seeker is to make a “personal” business card and give it to people you meet. The business card acts a mini-resume. Your card should include your name, type of work you are interested in pursuing, and contact information. As a result, this allows your information to be passed along to employers who are looking for someone with your specific skill set.

I am often shocked the general population in the United States believes every job available is posted on Monster or Career Builder.


Use social media and get your message out to as many folks as possible. Popular outlets include LinkedIn, Facebook,  and Twitter.


Sign up for a Linkedin account immediately, if you do not have one. Because LinkedIn is a favorite tool of recruiter’s and human resources professionals worldwide. Recruiters use Linkedin to locate candidates for the job openings and scan for candidates. Make sure to join Linkedin professional groups who directly relate to industries or jobs in which you want to work. It is important to optimize your profile to include keywords, professional certifications, recommendations, and past achievements.


Facebook is also a top tool recruiters use as well. Edit your Facebook “about” section to reflect major work accomplishments. Certainly, take a moment to clean up posts you have made which might send up a “red flag” to potential employers.


Twitter is a powerful resource to make direct connections with specific people within an organization. Identify key players in a company you would like to work for and follow them on Twitter. Monitor the type of content they are posting. Comment on the posts by adding value to their already existing conversations. Adding value to their conversations ensures you become part of their community. As a result, the key players see you as a good cultural fit for their organization.

dream job search

Beyond making yourself known to recruiters, social media is a quick, and useful method to let people in your extended network know you are in the dream job market.


Place your resume on every principal and industry-specific job board. Because employers cannot find you if they do not know you exist. There are several major job boards such as Monster, Hot Jobs, and Career Builder you should have your resume posted. Hiring managers, recruiters, and HR professionals also look at niche job boards that are specific to an individual industry or skill set.

However, update your resume before you start posting. Take time to reorganize and edit your resume to highlight direct, or transferable skills, to the type of employment you want.


One of the most successful methods is to conduct a reverse search for employer’s you have worked at, or places you would like to work. Contact companies you want to work at. Regardless if they have jobs posted. Search the company name and keywords about the business. An Internet search engine will create a list of competitors to the original company. Use this information to send out 100 resumes per week, every week, until you have your dream job.

Manage the flow of information you are sending out and receiving from prospective employers. Send out the resumes on Mondays and call to follow up on Fridays. The follow-up shows a sense of urgency on your part and demonstrates solid follow-through skills.

Finding your dream job takes effort and discipline. However, if you follow your job search process, you should be able to have interviews lined-up within a few weeks.

Do you have a strategy for creating a dream job search? Share it with me on Twitter.

This article originally appeared in Dbusiness.

Recently, a major airline garnered world-wide attention because it had a passenger (paying customer) forcibly removed from an overbooked flight. Almost immediately, the video shot by fellow passengers showing the incident went viral across social media. Images of the passenger being dragged down the aisle by his arms and legs by three security officers, amongst the loud protests of fellow passengers, played non-stop for several days. The incident damaged the reputation of the airline, as well as its stock price.

The attitude exhibited at the time by the employees and the CEO was that the company had the right to treat the passenger this way, and the passenger should have willingly given up his seat. They claimed the company was within its rules and regulations to behave this way. This attitude, apparently ingrained throughout the company, is not focused on customers, but instead focused on policies.

Companies like this train their employees, who when faced with challenging customer situations, to say to that customer, “I’m sorry, I can’t do that. It’s against company policy.”

Instead, what companies should be doing—regardless of the industry—is hiring people who have strong customer service skills in their DNA to interact with the clients. This core belief system, already ingrained within the employee, will be a platform for a customer-focused decision-making process.

Then the company can infuse DNA with training, which empowers and encourages the employees to solve problems for customers in the moment, teaching them to think about the customer experience first, in conjunction—or possibly despite—the rules and policies.

Customer service isn’t a department—it’s a philosophy. Every decision is made with the customer in mind. With proper training, every employee understands the role he or she plays in the customer experience.

For this to work, the organization must move from being focused on rules to being focused on the customer. All decision-making is done with the customer in mind. That doesn’t mean that businesses can’t make decisions that the customer might not like such as raising prices or eliminating a service offering. It means customer responses and feelings are proactively anticipated, good or bad, and the employees are trained to deal with those responses.

Once trained, employees are empowered and encouraged to come up with solutions to help their customers. They can give customers what they want and need, within reasonable and established boundaries.

There is a recipe for creating an organization that is focused on the customer experience beyond all else. The process is simple to understand and requires unwavering discipline to execute.

It all starts at the top. The leadership team must be 100-percent committed to creating a customer-focused culture. They define what the culture will look like, and then lead by example.

Our house, our rules. What is your company’s customer-focused culture points? This requires training on all levels, catering to their roles and responsibilities in the company. Customer service basics, such as being nice, easy to work with, and providing a timely response never go out of style.

The right players for our team. It goes without saying that you must have the right employees. They must be on board and be in alignment with your customer-focused culture and philosophies.

Empower the masses. Management must take the leap of faith and empower their team. Demonstrate that empowered employees don’t have to go to their boss every time they need to make a customer-focused decision that is outside of the norm.

Stories from the front line. When employees make decisions, both good and bad, share them as teachable moments within the organization. Other employees will learn from their peers on what is and is not acceptable.


In the end, it’s about a customer-focused culture, not policy. While these steps may seem like common sense to many of us, they are not necessarily easy to implement.