Where the Jobs Are, Part 2

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SALT LAKE CITY -- As tens of thousands of Utahns struggle to find any work, there are companies that are hiring in significant numbers.

Goldman Sachs & Co. is in the middle of a dramatic expansion in the Salt Lake City market. Two years ago, Goldman boasted 350 employees locally. By the end of the year there will be more than 1,150.

"We're casting a very broad net and we're looking for the most diverse set of candidates that we possibly can find," said managing director David Lang.

Lang says the quality of labor and business-friendly environment originally brought the company to Utah, and now the school is even visiting BYU, the University of Utah, Utah Valley University, Westminster and others to mine the best future workers. Currently, Goldman is looking to fill operations, finance, tech and investment posts.

We're casting a very broad net and we're looking for the most diverse set of candidates that we possibly can find.

–David Lang, Managing Director, Goldman Sacs & Co.

Procter & Gamble, Microsoft and EA Sports are other companies that have been hiring in significant numbers in the state.

Rob Nelsen of West Jordan says he has applied for as many as 215 jobs. Even an internship he didn't get had more than 200 respondents. He hopes his recent application to Goldman Sachs will be his big break.

"Student loans are coming up soon and I kind of need it now, rather than at some point," Nelsen told KSL.

Nelsen boasts an MBA from Utah State University, experience in entertainment, construction, accounting and management- although much of it was part-time work. He says that has been a deal-breaker for companies, many of which are looking for significant, full-time, field-specific experience.

Utah Employment Status
  • The professional and business services sector is springing back to life- adding 6,300 new jobs over the past 12 months, but that is likely helped by temp jobs. Although, this area is usually the first industry to show signs of a hiring rebirth.
  • The leisure and hospitality sector has seen a drastic turnaround with 3,300 job gains over the past 12 months.
  • Education and healthcare remains the strongest employment industry in Utah with growth of 8,000 jobs over the past 12 months and a growth rate of 5.5 percent.
  • Construction is still negative over the past 12 months, but is flirting with an end to the nearly three years of job loss. The current 12-month decline has fallen to only 2 percent, compared against a nearly 5 percent loss just a few months ago.
-Utah Dept. of Workforce Services

"It's incredibly frustrating," Nelsen said.

As it turns out, employers have their own frustrations. Despite a job pool that includes at least 97,000 unemployed workers, they are disappointed with the number of good job candidates they are seeing.

"They're still finding that ‘A,' kind of, top-talent is not available," said Kimberly Barton, HR advisor and surveys manager with The Employers Council. "The employers that are looking and are actually actively recruiting are not finding those candidates as plentiful as they had hoped."

Barton says the belief is many of those workers never lost their jobs in the recession.

It's something job recruiters like Carly Hazen are observing.

"We see it with a lot of the jobs we're placing," she said. "You hear all these people that can't find a position- it makes it very difficult from an employer's standpoint to continue hearing this when they've got several active positions that they literally cannot fill because people aren't willing to be flexible with their skills and experience, or they don't quite have the skills that they need for that position."

Hazen, who is the director of legal and finance recruitment at Prince, Perelson & Associates, remains optimistic about the small up-ticks seen in the job market and she is pushing strategy to prospective employees.

"You can never underestimate the power of the ability to network," Hazen said.

Hazen also tells people to have a flawless resume and hands-on experience- even in temp work.

Anything you can do that will really set yourself apart so you're less of a generalist and more of a specialist- I think that is going to play a bigger role.

–Carly Hazen, job recruiter

Education is a mixed bag. More people are getting degrees, so an MBA means less, but education is also growing in importance.

"Employers will always look for somebody who has ten years of accounting experience and more education," Hazen said.

Dr. Roger Hendrix, a management consultant of the firm Hendrix Consulting, advises people to take advantage of educational opportunities as they position themselves for the future.

"You have to question systems, so I would say [you need] a technical background in systems, mathematics, having a grasp on statistics and information- those are the jobs that are portable across the area and across all job sectors and they will be the ones that will always be in demand," Hendrix said.

Hendrix also says critical thinking will be increasingly important, "the ability to challenge assumptions, to be able to know how to form a question and unravel assumptions that may not work."

Hazen also suggests specialization.

"Anything you can do that will really set yourself apart so you're less of a generalist and more of a specialist- I think that is going to play a bigger role," Hazen said.

E-mail: aadams@ksl.com

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