Workplace automation

 The automation of activities

These preliminary findings are based on data for the US labor market. We structured our analysis around roughly 2,000 individual work activities,and assessed the requirements for each of these activities against 18 different capabilities that potentially could be automated (Exhibit 1). Those capabilities range from fine motor skills and navigating in the physical world, to sensing human emotion and producing natural language. We then assessed the “automatability” of those capabilities through the use of current, leading-edge technology, adjusting the level of capability required for occupations where work occurs in unpredictable settings.

The bottom line is that 45 percent of work activities could be automated using already demonstrated technology. If the technologies that process and “understand” natural language were to reach the median level of human performance, an additional 13 percent of work activities in the US economy could be automated. The magnitude of automation potential reflects the speed with which advances in artificial intelligence and its variants, such as machine learning, are challenging our assumptions about what is automatable. It’s no longer the case that only routine, codifiable activities are candidates for automation and that activities requiring “tacit” knowledge or experience that is difficult to translate into task specifications are immune to automation.

In many cases, automation technology can already match, or even exceed, the median level of human performance required. For instance, Narrative Science’s artificial-intelligence system, Quill, analyzes raw data and generates natural language, writing reports in seconds that readers would assume were written by a human author. Amazon’s fleet of Kiva robots is equipped with automation technologies that plan, navigate, and coordinate among individual robots to fulfill warehouse orders roughly four times faster than the company’s previous system. IBM’s Watson can suggest available treatments for specific ailments, drawing on the body of medical research for those diseases.

 The redefinition of jobs and business processes

According to our analysis, fewer than 5 percent of occupations can be entirely automated using current technology. However, about 60 percent of occupations could have 30 percent or more of their constituent activities automated. In other words, automation is likely to change the vast majority of occupations—at least to some degree—which will necessitate significant job redefinition and a transformation of business processes. Mortgage-loan officers, for instance, will spend much less time inspecting and processing rote paperwork and more time reviewing exceptions, which will allow them to process more loans and spend more time advising clients. Similarly, in a world where the diagnosis of many health issues could be effectively automated, an emergency room could combine triage and diagnosis and leave doctors to focus on the most acute or unusual cases while improving accuracy for the most common issues.

As roles and processes get redefined, the economic benefits of automation will extend far beyond labor savings. Particularly in the highest-paid occupations, machines can augment human capabilities to a high degree, and amplify the value of expertise by increasing an individual’s work capacity and freeing the employee to focus on work of higher value. Lawyers are already using text-mining techniques to read through the thousands of documents collected during discovery, and to identify the most relevant ones for deeper review by legal staff. Similarly, sales organizations could use automation to generate leads and identify more likely opportunities for cross-selling and upselling, increasing the time frontline salespeople have for interacting with customers and improving the quality of offers.

The impact on high-wage occupations

Conventional wisdom suggests that low-skill, low-wage activities on the front line are the ones most susceptible to automation. We’re now able to scrutinize this view using the comprehensive database of occupations we created as part of this research effort. It encompasses not only occupations, work activities, capabilities, and their automatability, but also the wages paid for each occupation.

Our work to date suggests that a significant percentage of the activities performed by even those in the highest-paid occupations (for example, financial planners, physicians, and senior executives) can be automated by adapting current technology.7For example, we estimate that activities consuming more than 20 percent of a CEO’s working time could be automated using current technologies. These include analyzing reports and data to inform operational decisions, preparing staff assignments, and reviewing status reports. Conversely, there are many lower-wage occupations such as home health aides, landscapers, and maintenance workers, where only a very small percentage of activities could be automated with technology available today

The future of creativity and meaning

Capabilities such as creativity and sensing emotions are core to the human experience and also difficult to automate. The amount of time that workers spend on activities requiring these capabilities, though, appears to be surprisingly low. Just 4 percent of the work activities across the US economy require creativity at a median human level of performance. Similarly, only 29 percent of work activities require a median human level of performance in sensing emotion.

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While these findings might be lamented as reflecting the impoverished nature of our work lives, they also suggest the potential to generate a greater amount of meaningful work. This could occur as automation replaces more routine or repetitive tasks, allowing employees to focus more on tasks that utilize creativity and emotion. Financial advisors, for example, might spend less time analyzing clients’ financial situations, and more time understanding their needs and explaining creative options. Interior designers could spend less time taking measurements, developing illustrations, and ordering materials, and more time developing innovative design concepts based on clients’ desires.

These interim findings, emphasizing the clarity brought by looking at automation through the lens of work activities as opposed to jobs, are in no way intended to diminish the pressing challenges and risks that must be understood and managed. Clearly, organizations and governments will need new ways of mitigating the human costs, including job losses and economic inequality, associated with the dislocation that takes place as companies separate activities that can be automated from the individuals who currently perform them. Other concerns center on privacy, as automation increases the amount of data collected and dispersed. The quality and safety risks arising from automated processes and offerings also are largely undefined, while the legal and regulatory implications could be enormous. To take one case: who is responsible if a driverless school bus has an accident?

Nor do we yet have a definitive perspective on the likely pace of transformation brought by workplace automation. Critical factors include the speed with which automation technologies are developed, adopted, and adapted, as well as the speed with which organization leaders grapple with the tricky business of redefining processes and roles. These factors may play out differently across industries. Those where automation is mostly software based can expect to capture value much faster and at a far lower cost. (The financial-services sector, where technology can readily manage straight-through transactions and trade processing, is a prime example.) On the other hand, businesses that are capital or hardware intensive, or constrained by heavy safety regulation, will likely see longer lags between initial investment and eventual benefits, and their pace of automation may be slower as a result.

 

European business

European business, Overcoming uncertainty, strengthening recovery, outlines results from a survey of 2,000 C-suite executives conducted by the McKinsey Global Institute in France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, and the United Kingdom. It highlights leaders’ newfound optimism about the outlook both for European economic growth and for their own companies’ prospects. They expect revenue growth of 2.1 percent on average in the coming year, with about one in five companies—especially larger, more internationally focused ones—predicting revenue growth above 5 percent. Business leaders are also upbeat about some key global trends affecting business everywhere, including digitization and the rise of emerging economies.

Along with the European business leaders, we also surveyed executives at more than 400 US and Chinese companies with operations in Europe. Their expectations for GDP growth in the European Union were even higher than that of their European counterparts on average—almost 3 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively.

The survey nonetheless indicates a continuing reluctance among European firms to invest, with many hoarding cash (Exhibit 1). Gross corporate savings rose to almost €2 trillion in 2015, and companies are divided between those saying they are saving to fund future investments (48 percent) and those building reserves for future crises (47 percent). Yet most businesses believe they already invest at the right level and see sufficient opportunity to invest more; weak demand, lack of opportunities, and access to finance no longer feature highly as barriers to investment.

How to explain this investment behavior? European business leaders cite a range of risks and uncertainties, including concern about future crises, nervousness about rising populism and anti-globalization sentiment, and lingering fears about the future shape and direction of the European Union (EU) itself.

We delved more deeply into attitudes toward the EU, asking about the benefits companies had experienced in the past, as well as their hopes and expectations for Europe in the future. These are complicated times for the European Union, which has had to contend with growing political and economic divergence, including the decision by the United Kingdom to withdraw from the EU altogether.

Overall, the response to our questions on the EU was positive. Just over half the companies surveyed think the EU has had a beneficial effect on their business, and the most successful companies are the most positive. Moreover, some 60 percent of business respondents say they want “more Europe,” in the form of greater policy convergence and integration.

Mindset Work

Are you overly influenced by what colleagues think of you?

There’s no way around it – not everyone is going to like you at work. But beware of the toxic habit of putting so much stake in other people’s opinion of you and your work style that you become frozen by fear of taking risks and being creative.

Professional jealousy or a night of little sleep may be what’s behind your co-worker’s critiques about your latest project rather than the merit of your work itself. Whatever the reason, if you aspire to be a leader, it’s important to learn how to stand up for yourself and push for your ideas even when others don’t agree with them.

 If you find yourself becoming more focused on feedback than on being yourself and doing your work, then it’s time for an attitude adjustment. Evaluate what people at work say and how they react to you, then form your own opinions about which comments have merit and which don’t. If you’re going to succeed in your career, you need to develop the strength of character to move forward in the face of detractors rather than internalizing criticism and letting it hold you back.

Are your expectations of others too high?

Whether it’s expecting your boss to mind-read about your desire for a promotion, or wanting your cube mate to ask you out to lunch more often, sometimes your own issues can keep you stuck in toxic thinking that hampers your office relationships. If this sounds familiar, consider whether you’re projecting your own preferences about how to act onto the people around you.

For example, maybe you’re the type of person who, if made a supervisor, would always acknowledge your employees’ progress with recognition – but your manager never seems to notice your achievements. Or maybe you think of yourself as a thoughtful kind of person who would never forget a colleague’s birthday and celebrate it with a desk full of flowers – yet those on your team have never even said “happy birthday” to you, much less given you a card.

While these situations can be hurtful, take a step back and see if the actions of others are truly egregious, or if they just don’t match what you would have done. If you find yourself frequently disappointed by what others do or don’t do at work, change this negative mindset by recognizing when your expectations are out of bounds.

Are you drawn toward gossip, negativity and complaints? Sometimes it isn’t what you do that determines how you feel at work – it’s who you interact with. If you often find yourself drawn toward gripers, gossipers or negative people, it can be hard to stay positive. Think about whether you’re most often spending time with people at work who are keeping you stuck in stinkin’ thinkin’.

While you may think that no one notices, there’s a good bet that your managers and other colleagues are aware that you’re misusing your time by complaining. What’s more, by focusing on everything that’s wrong in the office or on people who bug you, you tend to magnify the importance of these problems rather than solve them.

There’s only one solution to this one, and it’s simple but not always easy: Walk away from any and all sources of negativity. While it may be uncomfortable to shift your alliances to more positive ones, it will help your career in the long run.

How Can Job Agencies Toronto Help?

You may have come across the term recruitment agencies while searching for a job or trying to fill a vacancy in your company. Well, placement agencies, staffing companies, and employment agencies. Aren’t they one and the same? Well, it is definitely time to find out the answers.

Recruitment Agency: What is it?

Simply put they happen to be external sources that find the right employees for an organization. In short, they do the recruitment on behalf of a company. However, you should not confuse it with terms such as employment agencies or job agencies Toronto though. While the recruitment agencies recruit an employee who is in the payroll of the company, an employment agency becomes the employer who pays the salary to the candidate taken in as an employee.

Reasons for employers to engage recruitment agencies

The process of recruitment is usually time consuming with employers having to go through hundreds of resumes literally before they can find a handful of good fits. Delegating the responsibility to an agency will help them to find good candidates without having to spend several days trying to hire the right candidates. The total process beginning from sourcing the candidates to short listing them and forwarding the resumes for an interview is taken over by the agencies that save the employer important man hours.

The Procedure

The staff associated with the job agencies Toronto are given the lowdown about each vacancy along with the requirements needed in an employee. The agencies take notes of all the important factors pertaining to the requirement and place adverts in various job boards. They often go through their own database as well and network with other agencies in the location for sourcing the resumes.

However, you would often be unable to find the name of the actual company included in a job board. The agencies do not reveal the names because they do not want to forgo their recruiting fee by allowing a prospective employee to directly get in touch with the concerned company.

The recruitment agencies then take the process forward by sending a few of the shortlisted resumes to the employer without divulging the contact details. This is yet another method commonly employed by diverse agencies to ensure being paid by the employer.

Rest assured, no quality agency will actually distort your details and edit your resume without informing you.

Should you contact an agency?

While it is always a good idea to avoid middlemen, you may find it difficult to contact an employer directly for a job. Hence asking job agencies Toronto to help you out is an accepted norm especially when you have a few years of experience and are looking for better opportunities in your specific field.

Sure, a lot of companies do not share a good rapport with the agencies and may often be apprehensive of parting with the required fee for recruitment. Yet, there are definitely a few agencies that are approved and endorsed by their clients who give them repeat orders for filling their vacancies regularly.

Love them or hate them, the companies simply cannot do without the agencies while the opposite also happens to be true.

How to choose a recruitment agency?

  • It might be an excellent idea to check the accreditation of an agency before registering with them.
  • However, you may find one or several agencies being used repeatedly by a company. This indicates a mutual respect for each other and means that the concerned agency is good at its work along with being trustworthy.
  • Employers, on the other hand, do not favor agencies that resort to the policy of push sell. They do not appreciate the agencies that forward unrelated resumes without being asked to do so.
  • It would be effective to inquire closely and find out whether the agency is a ‘preferred supplier’ for a particular employer. You can safely forward your CV if the answer is in affirmative as the employer will go through your resume if it happens to be forwarded by an agency that they endorse.

Creating workforce

The promise of the United States. And one of the reasons the country has been able to deliver on that promise is that it has been able to develop the talent it needs to create wealth and to adapt to ever-changing economic realities. But there are concerns that the United States can and should be doing better. This will require policies and actions on many fronts, for example on trade, taxation, regulation, education, and fiscal and monetary policy. In this article, we focus on a single subject: preparing people without college degrees for jobs with promising career paths. The need, for both business and society, is clear.

On the one hand, almost 40 percent of American employers say they cannot find people with the skills they need, even for entry-level jobs. Almost 60 percent complain of lack of preparation, even for entry-level jobs. On the other hand, this “skills gap” represents a massive pool of untapped talent, and it has dire consequences, including economic underperformance, social unrest, and individual despair.

The skills gap takes different forms. In some cases, it is a matter of youth struggling to enter the workforce; in others, it is midcareer learners who have lost their jobs because of factory closings or layoffs, and who now must adapt. Whatever the circumstance, when people are disconnected from the workplace, they often disconnect from other social institutions as well. This is not healthy—neither for those left out nor for the societies in which they live.

Recognizing the importance of this subject, McKinsey has done extensive research on global workforce-development programs and economic strategies.1We have also worked with a number of state, local, and national governments.

So based on our research and experience, we have identified five principles that we believe should be the foundation of workforce-development programs—for funders, participants, and employers

Define geographic assets and identify target professions. To get where they want to go, state and local agencies need to know where they are starting. Even at the local level, economies are complicated.

Independent work

Working nine to five for a single employer bears little resemblance to the way a substantial share of the workforce makes a living today. Millions of people assemble various income streams and work independently, rather than in structured payroll jobs. This is hardly a new phenomenon, yet it has never been well measured in official statistics—and the resulting data gaps prevent a clear view of a large share of labor-market activity

To better understand the independent workforce and what motivates the people who participate in it, the McKinsey Global Institute surveyed some 8,000 respondents across Europe and the United States. We asked about their income in the past 12 months—encompassing primary work, as well as any other income-generating activities—and about their professional satisfaction and aspirations for work in the future.

The resulting report, Independent work: Choice, necessity, and the gig economy, finds that up to 162 million people in Europe and the United States—or 20 to 30 percent of the working-age population—engage in some form of independent work. While demographically diverse, independent workerslargely fit into four segments (exhibit): free agents, who actively choose independent work and derive their primary income from it; casual earners, who use independent work for supplemental income and do so by choice; reluctants, who make their primary living from independent work but would prefer traditional jobs; and the financially strapped, who do supplemental independent work out of necessity

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Those who do independent work by choice (free agents and casual earners) report greater satisfaction with their work lives than those who do it out of necessity (the reluctants and the financially strapped). This finding holds across countries, ages, income brackets, and education levels. Free agents reported higher levels of satisfaction in multiple dimensions of their work lives than those holding traditional jobs by choice, indicating that many people value the nonmonetary aspects of working on their own terms.

Independent work is rapidly evolving as digital platforms create large-scale, efficient marketplaces that facilitate direct and even real-time connections between the customers who need a service performed and the workers willing to provide that service. Today, just 15 percent of the independent workers we surveyed have used a digital platform to find work, but the so-called on-demand economy is growing rapidly.

While this digital transformation unfolds, several other forces could fuel growth in the independent workforce: the stated aspirations of traditional workers who wish to become independent, the large unemployed and inactive populations who want to work, and the increased demand for independent services from both consumers and organizations.

The growing prevalence of independent work could have tangible economic benefits, such as raising labor-force participation, providing opportunities for the unemployed, or even boosting productivity. Consumers and organizations could benefit from the greater availability of services and improved matching that better fulfills their needs. Digital platforms can amplify all these benefits through their larger scale, faster matches, seamless coordination, and richer information signals, enabling trust.

The future of work

The world of work is in a state of flux, which is causing considerable anxiety—and with good reason. There is growing polarization of labor-market opportunities between high- and low-skill jobs, unemployment and underemployment especially among young people, stagnating incomes for a large proportion of households, and income inequality. Migration and its effects on jobs has become a sensitive political issue in many advanced economies. And from Mumbai to Manchester, public debate rages about the future of work and whether there will be enough jobs to gainfully employ everyone.

The development of automation enabled by technologies including robotics and artificial intelligence brings the promise of higher productivity (and with productivity, economic growth), increased efficiencies, safety, and convenience. But these technologies also raise difficult questions about the broader impact of automation on jobs, skills, wages, and the nature of work itself.

Many activities that workers carry out today have the potential to be automated. At the same time, job-matching sites such as LinkedIn and Monster are changing and expanding the way individuals look for work and companies identify and recruit talent. Independent workers are increasingly choosing to offer their services on digital platforms including Upwork, Uber, and Etsy and, in the process, challenging conventional ideas about how and where work is undertaken.

For policy makers, business leaders, and workers themselves, these shifts create considerable uncertainty, alongside the potential benefits. This briefing note aims to provide a fact base on the multiple trends and forces buffeting the world of work drawing on recent research by the McKinsey Global Institute and others

Developments in employment, income, and skills

Challenges in labor markets are growing, household incomes in advanced economies have been stagnating, and there are increasing skill gaps among workers.

 Skills, jobs, and locations do not always match, limiting income-earning opportunities for many

Educational systems have not kept pace with the changing nature of work, resulting in many employers saying they cannot find enough workers with the skills they need. In a McKinsey survey of young people and employers in nine countries, 40 percent of employers said lack of skills was the main reason for entry-level job vacancies. Sixty percent said that new graduates were not adequately prepared for the world of work. There were gaps in technical skills such as STEM subject degrees but also in soft skills such as communication, teamwork, and punctuality. Conversely, even those in work may not be realizing their potential. In a recent global survey of job seekers conducted by LinkedIn, 37 percent of respondents said their current job does not fully utilize their skills or provide enough challenge.

Some of the mismatching is locational: where there is demand for work, there may not be available and qualified workers to be found. This geographic mismatch can be seen across regions within countries, and between countries.

Labor markets are under strain, and talent is underutilized

Unemployment and underemployment are high around the world. In the United States and the 15 core European Union countries (EU-15), there are 285 million adults who are not in the labor force—and at least 100 million of them would like to work more. Some 30 to 45 percent of the working-age population around the world is underutilized—that is, unemployed, inactive, or underemployed. This translates into some 850 million people in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Brazil, China, and India alone. Most attention is paid to the unemployed portion of this number, and not enough to the underemployed and the inactive portions, which make up the majority of untapped human potential.

Almost 75 million youth are officially unemployed. Women represent one of the largest pools of untapped labor: globally, 655 million fewer women are economically active than men. In a “best-in-region” scenario in which all countries match the rate of improvement in gender gaps (in labor force participation, hours worked, and sector mix of employment) of the best-performing country in their region, $12 trillion more of annual GDP would be realized in 2025, equivalent in size to the current GDP of Japan, Germany, and the United Kingdom combined.

Job Creation

If India were to cash-in on this demographic dividend, it needed to give a fillip to labour intensive technology, infrastructure and micro, small and medium enterprises. The Make-in-India campaign, the Digital India coupled with Skill India launched by Mr. Modi is aimed at creating the much needed employment in the country.

The Make in India campaign launched last year is aimed at India becoming a global manufacturing hub, particularly that of labour-intensive production like textiles, garments and small and medium enterprises. Small and Medium Enterprises(SME) sector accounted for nearly 40 per cent of India’s GDP and 45 per cent of exports. Sectors like handlooms, handicrafts too had huge potential for job creation apart from IT and IT enabled services.

But if these sectors were to flourish, the youth should possess necessary skills so as to be absorbed in for production activity. The education provided by many of our schools and colleges do not make them employable and hence required to be skilled. It is precisely for this reason Mr. Modi had decided to lay emphasis on skill development.

 The target is to provide skill development to at least 500 million people in 5-10 years, which is nearly half the population. The government has also made it clear that here on all public and private investments that required its clearance or assistance, will have to make a commitment on the number of jobs that the investment would create.

Mr. Modi followed it up with a meeting with Indian businessmen in October last, in which he emphasized the need for pushing investment in private sector and job creation would be the thrust of such investments. He nudged the businessmen to invest in labour-intensive areas that included textiles. Government’s decision toencourage electronics industry in the country is also expected to boost job creation. Government proposed to encourage $400 billion in electronics, IT software and hardware, mobile manufacture and so on. His visits to Middle East, US, UK, Japan, Canada, France, South Korea, Germany, China and more recently to South East Asia have set the stage for attracting more foreign investment into India.

At the moment India is the only attractive investment destination with growth slowing down in many advanced countries. The growth has slowed down in China as well. With little growth potential in advanced nations, the large global companies see opportunity only in India for investment with ever growing middleclass and young population. India is the only country that can witness consumer demand pick up in the coming years and decades.

This is also the time when India could step up infrastructure development. India had huge infrastructure deficit and with global commodity prices of crude oil, steel, coal, cement and other materials falling, investment in infrastructure will yield better outcome with costs coming down. This will also push up jobs in construction industry.

 The Indian Railways is investing over Rs one lakh crore this financial year and propose to invest Rs 8.5 lakh crore in modernisation of railways in the next five years. This would create substantial jobs besides creating much needed rail infrastructure.

Government proposed to invest $1 trillion in infrastructure development in the next five years. These investments in ports, airports, highways, rural roads, housing, telecom and power will not only kick-start the sagging economy but also create employment. The proposal to create 100 smart cities in the country, promotion of industrial clusters and food parks in the country too would generate additional employment.

The emphasis on renewable energy and raising the target of solar power generation to one lakh Mw and wind power to 60,000 Mw in the next five years entailing investment of $150 billion. Both solar and wind power generation is labour intensive particularly at the time of installation. Off grid applications are spread all over the country.

If India were to shine and growth to become inclusive, rural India comprising six lakh villages will have to develop. The fruit of development has to percolate down to village level. This will happen only if there are jobs in small towns. In this context, government’s proposal to encourage industrial clusters will help.

 Urban development initiatives -AMRUT, Smart Cities Mission and Housing for all unveiled by Mr. Modi recently are expected to help create additional 34 lakh jobs. The initiative to build 100 smart cities across the country is a “decisive step” and will create a significant multiplier effect for over 250 crore and ancillary sectors including infrastructure, logistics and modern retail, according to ASSOCHAM President Rana Kapoor.

Weak external demand meant pick  up in labour-intensive sectors like textiles and gems and jewellery that depend on exports for growth will not see a  pick up in the near term. The government, therefore, would have to  focus on newer areas like food processing, urban and rural infrastructure, highway development for job creation.

Government has already taking steps to improve ease of doing business by simplifying rules and states have started competing with each other to promote single window clearance to attract foreign investment. All these augur well for the economy and it has to be a constant endeavour to improve the situation on the ground, which government and states have started working on. The business confidence is returning, the feel good factor among foreign investors is visible but the government needs to hasten reforms to fully win back the trust of investors. India is set to achieve economic growth rate between 7.5-8 percent this year. The improvement in the ease of doing business coupled with roll-out of GST will push the growth rate to 9-10 per cent, which will be close to India’s growth potential. Also with inflation moderating, fiscal deficit and current account deficit under control, surgingforeign exchange reserves and falling interest rates, the investment would pick up with consumer demand surging in the country. The economic prospects can only improve.

A Lie-Detector Test

1. Conduct multiple interviews.
Interview multiple people for a single position, and call promising candidates back for a second, or even a third, interview. Although this is time-consuming for both of you, it’s a valuable way to gain insight into the person you’re thinking of hiring.

And when you interview someone, try to have other managers in the room. It’s important to get feedback from colleagues about potential hires. Another manager’s gut instinct could save you from making a potentially costly mistake.

2. Do a background check.
Internet search tools and social networks are good resources for checking on applicants. After all, Thompson’s resume offense was caught by a Google search. But it’s wise to do a background check on each new hire.

Companies such as IntelliCorp provide employee-screening services for small and midsize businesses. IntelliCorp’s packages range from $1,595 to $7,495, according to Kelly Ansboury, the company’s director of business development and marketing.

Decide first how wide and deep you want to go, and then choose a service that meets your needs. As a minimum measure, Challenger recommends checking potential employees’ criminal records and citizenship status. Looking into their credit history or asking them to submit to a drug test are further steps you can take.

3. Seek out employment and character references.
Challenger advises interviewing candidates who have been recommended by people you trust. But even then, you should still conduct your own background check on the person. With a candidate who doesn’t have a personal recommendation, you should search out personal references. Go beyond those listed on his resume. Reach out to former co-workers or others who can verify the applicant’s employment history and give you insight into the person’s character.

Although it’s necessary to take precautions when adding someone to your company, Challenger said, lying on resumes is uncommon, especially in our age of information transparency.

Small businesses

Small businesses, often hailed as the nation’s engine of job growth, are hiring at a much slower pace than they were earlier in the year, according to two employment reports released this week.

All businesses are hiring less: The private sector added 119,000 employees last month, down from the 201,000 jobs added in March, according to a payroll processor ADP. Of the jobs added in April, nearly 97% were in small- and medium-sized businesses. Only 4,000 of the April jobs were at large businesses, defined as those with 500 or more employees. About 58,000 jobs were from small business payrolls (defined as having up to 49 employees) and all in the service sector; the goods-producing sector actually lost 1,000 jobs. Meanwhile, 57,000 jobs were added by medium businesses (between 50 and 499 employees).

The April figures show the smallest increase in hiring among small business owners in seven months. Previously, small businesses averaged an increase of 102,000 jobs a month from October 2011 to March 2012, according to the ADP National Employment Report.

Meanwhile, a separate report that focuses on small businesses with fewer than 20 employees, echoed the slow in hiring. Financial services company Intuit, maker of popular software programs like QuickBooks and TurboTax, said small businesses added 40,000 jobs in April, fewer than the revised 45,000 jobs added in March.

In addition to its monthly employment index, Intuit added a Small Business Revenue Index, new for April. In its first iteration, the Revenue Index showed that small business sales are just now returning to levels of sales seen in 2007, before the recession began. Businesses in the scientific, technology and professional fields performed the best, with revenues topping pre-recessionary levels. The real estate and construction industries, however, continue to struggle.

Those small-business hourly employees saw their week shrink very slightly in April down to 24.8 hours per week, according to Intuit’s survey of 210,000 hourly employees. The workweek for hourly small business employees had been getting longer since early 2010, but over the last half a year has been pretty consistently shrinking.

Even as the workweek got shorter and small businesses hired fewer people, those employees that did have a job at a small business were paid slightly more in April (about $3 per month), continuing a trend that has existed at least as far back as 2007, according to Intuit. The average monthly pay at a small business was $2,680 in April, or about $32,200 per year.

Job Seekers a Boost

What It Is
LearnUp.me, an online job placement and training platform, enables job seekers to bone up on specific skills required by prospective employers. Companies post their open positions, ranging from bakery clerk to technology associate, then add links to training videos on YouTube or other approved material. For example, Staples candidates might be asked to watch the YouTube video “How to Make a Business Card.” Once users complete the training, their LearnUp résumés are automatically updated to reflect their efforts, and they can be considered for the open slot.

How It Started
After her startup Valence Energy was acquired in 2010, Alexis Ringwald became interested in the unemployment problem. She spent six months interviewing people in the unemployment lines in the Bay Area, trying to determine what was keeping them from landing work.

“It seemed a lot of people’s skills were out of sync with the labor market needs of today,” Ringwald says. “There was a sense of confusion by the job seekers, a paralysis over what they needed to learn to be qualified.”

 In September 2011 Ringwald met Kenny Ma at the education-themed Mega Startup Weekend at Microsoft’s campus in Mountain View, Calif., and the two joined together to launch LearnUp, which was announced in June at the Clinton Global Initiative America meeting in Chicago.

Why It Took Off
“Even employers with entry-level positions are having a hard time finding skilled workers,” Ringwald says. Her vision was for LearnUp to bridge the gap, giving job seekers the expertise they needed and companies an educated employee pool from which to choose. Staples and Safeway were on the board of the San Jose, Calif., unemployment office and signed up immediately. Gap, KPMG, TeleTech, Whole Foods Market and others came on shortly thereafter.

The Business Case
Backed in part by venture capital firm New Enterprise Associates, LearnUp recently received $1.9 million in funding, enough to build the team and expand throughout California. The company’s revenue model is based on a finder’s fee for successful job placements. Job seekers are not charged to access the listings or to complete any required training.

Still in startup mode, Ringwald won’t divulge the number of positions LearnUp has filled so far, noting that the company is using San Jose as a test case.