December 2017 Prosperity at Work E-Tip

Economics & Job Creation:


Life Sciences:
“Hiring for Potential or Experience?”

“HADES creates alternate reality to mislead hackers”

“Lack of sleep could cause mood disorders in teens”

The Industrials:
“Hiring In Full Throttle Heading Into 2018”

Human Capital Solutions, Inc. (HCS) is a Retained Executive Search and Professional Recruiting firm focused in Healthcare, Life Sciences, the Industrials, and Technology. Visit our LinkedIn Company Page to learn more about HCS and receive weekly updates.

HCS has created the Prosperity at Work proposition which focuses on creating prosperous relationships between companies and their employees (associates). HCS assists companies in improving bottom line profitability by efficiently planning, organizing and implementing optimized, practical and value-added business solutions.


Economics & Job Creation:



Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 228,000 in November, and the unemployment
rate was unchanged at 4.1 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today.
Employment continued to trend up in professional and business services, manufacturing,
and health care.

Household Survey Data

The unemployment rate held at 4.1 percent in November, and the number of unemployed
persons was essentially unchanged at 6.6 million. Over the year, the unemployment rate
and the number of unemployed persons were down by 0.5 percentage point and 799,000,
respectively. (See table A-1.)

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for teenagers increased to 15.9
percent in November. The jobless rates for adult men (3.7 percent), adult women (3.7
percent), Whites (3.6 percent), Blacks (7.3 percent), Asians (3.0 percent), and Hispanics
(4.7 percent) showed little change. (See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)

The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) was essentially
unchanged at 1.6 million in November and accounted for 23.8 percent of the unemployed.
Over the year, the number of long-term unemployed was down by 275,000. (See table A-12.)

The labor force participation rate remained at 62.7 percent in November and has shown no
clear trend over the past 12 months. The employment-population ratio, at 60.1 percent,
changed little in November and has shown little movement, on net, since early this year.
(See table A-1.)

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as
involuntary part-time workers), at 4.8 million, was essentially unchanged in November but
was down by 858,000 over the year. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time
employment, were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they
were unable to find full-time jobs. (See table A-8.)

In November, 1.5 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, down by
451,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals
were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job
sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not
searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. (See table A-16.)

Among the marginally attached, there were 469,000 discouraged workers in November, down by
122,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers
are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for
them. The remaining 1.0 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in November
had not searched for work for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities.
(See table A-16.)

Establishment Survey Data

Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 228,000 in November. Employment continued to
trend up in professional and business services, manufacturing, and health care. Employment
growth has averaged 174,000 per month thus far this year, compared with an average monthly
gain of 187,000 in 2016. (See table B-1.)

Employment in professional and business services continued on an upward trend in November
(+46,000). Over the past 12 months, the industry has added 548,000 jobs.

In November, manufacturing added 31,000 jobs. Within the industry, employment rose in
machinery (+8,000), fabricated metal products (+7,000), computer and electronic products
(+4,000), and plastics and rubber products (+4,000). Since a recent low in November 2016,
manufacturing employment has increased by 189,000.

Health care added 30,000 jobs in November. Most of the gain occurred in ambulatory health
care services (+25,000), which includes offices of physicians and outpatient care centers.
Monthly employment growth in health care has averaged 24,000 thus far in 2017, compared
with an average increase of 32,000 per month in 2016.

Within construction, employment among specialty trade contractors increased by 23,000 in
November and by 132,000 over the year.

Employment in other major industries, including mining, wholesale trade, retail trade,
transportation and warehousing, information, financial activities, leisure and hospitality,
and government, changed little over the month.

The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls increased by 0.1 hour
to 34.5 hours in November. In manufacturing, the workweek was unchanged at 40.9 hours, and
overtime remained at 3.5 hours. The average workweek for production and nonsupervisory
employees on private nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 33.7 hours. (See tables B-2 and

In November, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls rose
by 5 cents to $26.55. Over the year, average hourly earnings have risen by 64 cents, or
2.5 percent. Average hourly earnings of private-sector production and nonsupervisory
employees rose by 5 cents to $22.24 in November. (See tables B-3 and B-8.)

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for September was revised up from +18,000
to +38,000, and the change for October was revised down from +261,000 to +244,000. With
these revisions, employment gains in September and October combined were 3,000 more than
previously reported. (Monthly revisions result from additional reports received from
businesses and government agencies since the last published estimates and from the
recalculation of seasonal factors.) After revisions, job gains have averaged 170,000 over
the last 3 months.


Life Sciences:

“Hiring for Potential or Experience?”

It’s one of the biggest questions asked by first-time hiring managers: Is it better to hire people based on their experience or their potential?

A cursory Google search reveals that the most popular answer to this question is “potential.” Most hiring experts seem to think that hiring someone for what they could do in the future is smarter than hiring someone because of what they’ve done in the past. The truth, however, is more gray than black and white, according to a new report authored by Michael Klazema, who develops products for criminal background checks and for improving online customer experiences in the background screening industry.

In the report, Mr. Klazema outlined opposing arguments as to why one might hire based on either experience or potential, and how to incorporate the best of both approaches to achieve good results.

Hiring for Experience

“Let’s start with experience – the thing that most hiring experts don’t choose first,” said Mr. Klazema. “It’s important to note that the ‘experts say you should hire based on potential’ narrative is an oversimplification. If hiring managers really thought hiring based on experience was a bad idea, then it wouldn’t be standard operating procedure to require all new applicants to submit resumes. After all, the resume is a document that primarily exists to tell employers about a person’s previous experience.”

Certainly, hiring based on experience has its benefits. A person with experience performing a similar role to the one you are filling offers more certainty than someone who is unproven, the report said. “If someone in your applicant pool has already performed all the key responsibilities of the job in a professional setting, it can be comforting to hire that person,” Mr. Klazema said. Theoretically, you won’t have to do as much training or hand-holding. The person will just be able to hit the ground running.

Such benefits exist for any job. Hiring for experience, however, is something that is most often done for extremely high-level positions. “When it comes to filling executive, presidential and other leadership-oriented roles within an organization, companies are more likely to conduct what is called an ‘executive search’ than they are to hire internally or conduct a standard recruitment process,” Mr. Klazema said. “There are companies that specialize in helping businesses with executive search. Experience is a huge part of these searches, because businesses simply aren’t willing to hand high-profile responsibilities over to unproven candidates.”

An example of “hiring for experience” can be found in professional or college athletics. When it comes to hiring head coaches, most teams or programs won’t take a chance on inexperienced (or even relatively inexperienced) people, said the report. Prospects need to have held big coaching jobs and have strong win-loss records with previous teams to be considered. Businesses often take a similar approach with an executive search, simply because too much is at stake to bet on potential.

Hiring for Potential

Of course, most hiring processes are not as high-stakes as appointing a new CEO or pro sports head coach. It’s with lower-stakes jobs and recruitment processes that the argument to “hire for potential” really holds water.

“There are a lot of reasons to hire based on potential rather than just experience,” said Mr. Klazema. “Experience listed on a resume might make an applicant look like the perfect fit, but is it all true? Without background checks and verification checks, you really can’t put all your eggs in that basket. Assessing a person’s character, demeanor, skills and cultural fit can give you a better picture of who they are as an employee—not just who they want you to think they are.”

Of course, the pursuit of cultural fit can be a convincing argument for hiring based on potential. “Someone with minimal experience who meshes well with your team will almost always deliver more positive results than someone who clashes with your culture but has extensive experience,” said Mr. Klazema. “No employee exists in a vacuum, so thinking about how every hire you make will impact the morale and effectiveness of your team is essential. This kind of consideration is more about potential than experience by nature.”

Looking at a person’s work experience and education alone leaves many unanswered questions. For instance, is the person passionate about your company? Someone who asks a lot of questions about what you do, your company values, or the projects you are working on is clearly interested in getting this job, not just a job, said the report. “That person is almost certainly going to put more effort into their work than someone who doesn’t care as deeply – regardless of which person is more ‘experienced’ on paper,” said Mr. Klazema.

“If you only hire based on experience, you miss the chance to get in on the ground floor with brilliant young professionals,” he said. “Plenty of recent graduates have the passion, talent, ambition and potential to change your business for the better.” Some might be future leaders of your organization, while others have innovations in the making that could help produce a lot of money for your company, said the report. If you ignore everything but experience, you will never have an opportunity to discover the next big talent in your industry.

Planning a Smart Hiring Process

So it is that potential matters in the hiring process, but so does experience. “Without considering education and experience, you risk ending up with a person who is completely unqualified for the job at hand,” said Mr. Klazema. “Without thinking about potential, you risk hiring someone who is completely mismatched with your culture or who can’t break bad habits from past jobs.”

The best strategy is to mix approaches, the report concluded. Conduct your hiring processes based on potential, looking for the people who you think fit best in your business or bring the most to the table. At the same time, don’t think that because someone seems charming in the interview that they automatically have “potential” in your company.

“Your judgments on future potential can and should be informed by experience, from the skills a person has accumulated to what their last employer had to say about them during the reference check,” said Mr. Klazema. “By blending experience and potential into one hiring mentality, you’ll find better people, minimize turnover and protect your company culture.”

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Will Schatz, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media



“HADES creates alternate reality to mislead hackers”

The Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky once postulated that the devil no longer employs fire and brimstone but instead simply tells you what you want to hear.

Sandia National Laboratories cyber researchers go with that second option when it comes to foiling a hacker. Rather than simply blocking a discovered intruder, Vince Urias, Will Stout and Caleb Loverro deploy a recently patented alternative reality, dubbed HADES for High-fidelity Adaptive Deception & Emulation System, which feeds a hacker not what he needs to know but what he wants to believe.

“Deception is the future of cyber defense,” said Urias. “Simply kicking a hacker out is next to useless. The hacker has asymmetry on his side; we have to guard a hundred possible entry points and a hacker only needs to penetrate one to get in.”

Rather than being summarily removed from a data source, a discovered hacker is led unobtrusively into HADES, where cloned virtual hard drives, memory and data sets create a simulation very much like the reality. However, certain artifacts have been deliberately, but not obviously, altered.

“So, a hacker may report to his handler that he or she has cracked our system and will be sending back reports on what we’re doing,” Urias said. “Let’s say they spent 12 months gathering info. When they realize we’ve altered their reality, they have to wonder at what point did their target start using deception, at what point should they not trust the data? They may have received a year or so of false information before realizing something is wrong. A hacker informing his boss that he’s discovered a problem doesn’t do his reputation much good, he’s discredited. And then the adversary must check all data obtained from us because they don’t know when we started falsifying.”

Furthermore, when a hacker finally puzzles out something is wrong, he must display his toolkit as he tries to discern truth from fiction.

“Then he’s like a goldfish fluttering in a bowl,” said Urias. “He exposes his techniques and we see everything he does.”

“It used to be that technologically we couldn’t move a visitor to a different reality without them knowing,” said Urias, “but there’s been a radical change in networking in the last 10 to 15 years, from hardware to software. With the ephemerality of the network fabric, I can change realities without a hacker knowing.”

Adversaries want data that helps their situational awareness. “But when we change data in our fake world, we devalue information and set up eventual inconsistencies.”

To do this, Urias said, “we move to another location in the cloud and build a slightly different world around them. Our intent is to introduce doubt. If they get something, is it real or is it fake? The worst horror for an adversary is the identical world, but changed. Can we introduce more work for them?”

HADES just won a 2017 R&D100 award, presented by R&D Magazine to recognize exceptional innovations in science and technology over the past year. The Sandia work, patented in October, began five years ago with a three-year Laboratory Directed Research and Development grant.

HADES can operate in multiple modes from a small organization without resources to a large company, he said. The Department of Homeland Security’s Cyber Security Division has worked with Sandia on deployment.

Like any technique, HADES has its limitations. While the simplest deceptive environment can be done on a small private computer, environments of greater fidelity require more CPU and memory resources and may thereby reduce the number of virtual environments deployable on a single server.

What the information technology and cybersecurity communities want, Urias said, is what he wants: “To stop the [information] bleeding, and get actionable intelligence: What is an adversary looking for, what did they actually get, and how did they get it?”

The technique has allowed the researchers to locate malware an adversary has placed in a system, and is capable of active attack.



“Lack of sleep could cause mood disorders in teens”

Chronic sleep deprivation — which can involve staying up late, and waking up early for work or school — has become a way of life for both kids and adults, especially with the increasing use of phones and tablets late into the night. But this social jet lag poses some serious health and mental health risks: new research finds that for teenagers, even a short period of sleep restriction could, over the long-term, raise their risk for depression and addiction.

University of Pittsburgh’s Peter Franzen and Erika Forbes invited 35 participants, aged 11.5-15 years, into a sleep lab for two nights. Half the participants slept for 10 hours, while the other half slept only four hours. A week later, they came back to the lab for another two nights and adopted the opposite sleep schedule from their initial visit.

Each time they visited the lab, the participants underwent brain scans while playing a game that involved receiving monetary rewards of $10 and $1. At the end of each visit, the teens answered questions that measured their emotional functioning, as well as depression symptoms.

The researchers found that sleep deprivation affected the putamen, an area of the brain that plays a role in goal-based movements and learning from rewards. When participants were sleep-deprived and the reward in the game they played was larger, the putamen was less responsive. In the rested condition, the brain region didn’t show any difference between high- and low-reward conditions.

Franzen and Forbes also found connections between sleep restriction and mood: after a night of restricted sleep, the participants who experienced less activation in the putamen also reported more symptoms of depression. This is consistent with findings, from a large literature of studies on depression and reward circuitry, that depression is characterized by less activity in the brain’s reward system.

The results suggest that sleep deprivation in the tween and teen years may interfere with how the brain processes rewards, which could disrupt mood and put a person at risk of depression, as well as risk-taking behavior and addiction.


The Industrials:

“Hiring In Full Throttle Heading Into 2018”

It’s common knowledge that the U.S. unemployment rate is at its lowest level in over a decade. That’s good news, of course. But companies also know that this is the kind of good news that can make the jobs of human resource leaders that extra bit tougher.

It’s not just that competition for talent is fierce. Businesses have other issues to contend with as well – from the economic ups and downs of their respective industries to the new technologies that are transforming the workplace, leading to demand for new skills while making others obsolete. These changes cut across every industry, even if the impact varies.

Still, employers continue to feel quite bullish, according to a recently released report by Indeed, the jobs website. Sixty one percent of the 1,000 HR leaders who were surveyed said they expect to hire more people next year than they did in 2017. By contrast, just 10 percent are planning to reduce their rate of hiring, while the rest plan to maintain current levels.

Much of the demand for workers comes in response to current or projected business success. A total of 56 percent of employers said they are hiring to support business growth, said Indeed, while 31 percent cited a need for a specific skill. Just 13 percent said they are replacing lost staff.

Most Active, Reluctant Sectors

Those surveyed for the report, which was conducted in October, worked for American companies with 100 or more employees.

Most businesses in virtually every industry should see a jump in hiring in 2018, but some will be more aggressive in going after talent than others, according to the report. The most active sectors for recruiting will be architecture and engineering, where 82 percent plan to hire, IT and telecom companies (75 percent) and professional services firms (71 percent).

At the other end of the spectrum, just 55 percent of retail companies and only 41 percent of educational organizations said they plan to recruit more people next year, the report said. Even so, that’s hefty hiring in and of itself.

Comparatively low figures for the retail sector may evoke headlines about the “retail apocalypse.” But Goldman Sachs, at its annual global retailing conference this fall, reported that 76 percent of the retail companies it surveyed had earnings that topped their second quarter estimates, said Indeed. And given that retail occupations account for nearly six percent of employment in the U.S., said the report, that’s still plenty of hiring.

Regional Differences

The report also reflected differences across the regions, with the Southwest in particular showing better results than the others. There, three fourths (75 percent) of the companies surveyed are looking to hire more people next year.

The good news for recruiters, at least in urban areas, is that the Southwest is attracting a growing number of people, said Indeed. Many of the fastest growing metropolitan areas in the nation are in the Southwest or the West, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The West, Southeast and Midwest by contrast have similar hiring expectations at 62 percent, 61 percent and 60 percent respectively, according to the report. The Northeast came in last with only 57 percent of the companies saying they anticipated hiring increases.

For all the optimism about jobs that HR leaders expressed, they were less positive about filling all those open roles. Forty two percent, in fact, said they were concerned that they may fall short.

And while much of the conversation surrounding talent shortages revolves around the need to find highly skilled workers, said the report, this issue affects hiring at all levels. Forty one percent of the employers surveyed said that it was their entry-level positions that were hardest to fill.

Less Flexibility

Hiring for these positions was the biggest challenge for 55 percent of companies in the retail industry and 52 percent of healthcare companies, which already face a nursing shortage, said the survey.

By contrast, 33 percent of the HR leaders voiced concern about hiring middle management, 25 percent reported challenges with senior management and 20 percent pointed to executive level positions as their most difficult hires.

Why are entry-level hires so tough? When it comes to higher-level positions, hiring managers tend to have more flexibility to sweeten the pot with additional money, better perks and stronger incentives for more experienced workers, said Indeed.

With entry-level workers, there is less leeway. The challenge of attracting such candidates may be a sign that it’s time for companies to shift some of their incentives from experienced job seekers to fresh talent, said the jobs website.

Switch Focus

“Alternatively, it may be time to look at those job descriptions again,” said Indeed. “Are you really hiring for entry-level jobs, or are you asking for one or two years’ experience? Frequently on Indeed we see employers listing jobs as ‘entry level’ when in fact they are asking for one or two years’ experience. If you can’t find that experience it may be time to switch your focus to core competencies and transferable skills, or consider internships or other indicators of effort.”

When it comes to hiring limitations imposed by financial restrictions, employers in the transportation industry showed the greatest concerns, according to the survey. Here, 40 percent of companies said they worry that they will lack the budget to make the necessary hires.

This concern was also high in the healthcare industry, where staff shortages also lead to high salaries, said the report. Here, 34 percent of the HR leaders surveyed said they shared that worry.

A Complex Reality

In the retail sector, where salaries tend to be lower, it’s a different picture. Here, Indeed found that 75 percent of retail companies reported that they will have the budget to make the necessary new hires. “Once again, reports of the ‘retail apocalypse’ may not reflect the more complex reality here,” said Indeed. “For companies that need to make strong hires under budget constraints, non-monetary benefits like extra PTO, flexible hours and work from home options can tip the scales for job candidates.”

While most people are optimistic about their industry and business outlook, 27 percent of the HR leaders said they have a general fear of an economic slowdown, according to the report. This fear was most pronounced in the Southwest, where about 36 percent expressed concern the economy falling off.

And professionals in certain industries, meanwhile, were more worried than others. In the manufacturing sector, 54 percent of the HR leaders said they were concerned about a slowdown, said the survey. With finance companies, that number was 52 percent, and for travel and transportation companies, 50 percent.

Be Strategic

“Even with these looming fears, companies that are looking forward to a promising year of hiring should start taking steps to prepare for a more competitive landscape,” said Indeed.

It is prudent, said the jobs website, for employers to be strategic about where they find job seekers and how to catch the eye of top talent. The best place to start is with existing employees. Seventy three percent of the companies used employee referrals as their most common source of new hires, said the report. Job sites came in at 71 percent, with recruitment and staffing firms, 51 percent,

Advertising still plays a strong role as well, said Indeed, with 42 percent of companies getting hires through digital ads and 38 percent from print ads.

A Recruiter’s Perspective

“I’ve been recruiting for nearly 30 years, and rarely have I been as optimistic as I am right now about the coming year,” said Rob Tillman, founder of executive search firm TillmanCarlson. “Historically, recruiting activity has most closely tracked the consumer confidence index which is now at a 17-year high. With the stock market at all-time highs and tax cuts on the horizon, economic conditions should get even better in 2018,” he said. “While we may be entering the final stages of the economic recovery, the trends we see in the war for talent should become even more pronounced in 2018.”

“The first major trend we’ve seen in the markets is the increasingly greater impact of big data and predictive analytics,” said Mr. Tillman. “Big data and digital is becoming hugely important in hiring CEOs and CTOs for tech companies, but what’s truly amazing is how these influences are impacting nearly every business in every industry.” The speed of innovation is completely changing the competitive landscape, he noted.

The second major trend Mr. Tillman identified is middle market companies winning in the war for talent. “As large corporations have largely recruited established and proven leaders from each other, middle market companies are stepping up and providing more attractive opportunities for leaders to make a meaningful impact and participate in value creation,” he said. He said private equity investors are increasingly in the mix and, with fundraising at an all-time high, leaders can expect to see even more opportunity to lead smaller companies with significant equity plays.

Middle market companies, in fact, are in the crosshairs of behemoths like Korn Ferry – their consultants see an expanding business in finding leaders and general management talent for companies below the Fortune 1000.

Mr. Tillman said he also expects “a pendulum shift” in how companies utilize their talent acquisition teams. “While nearly every company has invested in people and tools to build effective talent acquisition functions, the reality is that the competition for leadership talent and the speed of the markets put internal teams at a disadvantage at the most senior levels,” he said. “As a result, we expect to see more and more companies moving back to working with external recruiting partners.”

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Will Schatz, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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