Since his perspective is national, I thought it would be interesting to hear from a local recruitment agency about opportunities that are available in the Basking Ridge area, and the general climate for job hunters.
I spoke with Phil Chappel, owner of P. Chappel Associates, Inc. located at 5 Lyons Mall, Basking Ridge, who is a staffing expert with more than 30 years of experience. P. Chappel Associates also is an affiliate of NPA, a worldwide recruitment firm.
Patch: First, what type of clients are you currently servicing?
Chappel: I have experience across a broad range of sectors. Right now, I’m working on filling positions for high-level software development managers, who create products and networks. I’m working with research and product development organizations that do commercial and defense to support their needs. I’m also doing some basic Information Technology placement.
Patch: What is your big picture take on the job climate?
Chappel: Honestly, this is the most difficult job situation I’ve seen in the 30 years I’ve been doing this. Opportunity-wise, right now, it is easier to place experienced professionals. Employers are wary in hiring those who are new to the field. No new defense spending in the works slows down a lot of things. When the big 4-5 defense contractors not getting new work, then subcontractors and suppliers also lose out on work. A lot of products used in the private sector, like GPS [Global Positioning System] technologies, originated with the government, so slowdown in defense spending has a broad impact. We are only postponing this type of development, though, since new technologies will have to be developed in the future.
Patch: Can you talk about the job situation specific to the Basking Ridge area?
Chappel: While it’s competitive, quite frankly, we are lucky in this area of N.J. as we have access to New York City. Comparatively there is a huge concentration of jobs. Those looking for jobs outside of this area are faced with less opportunities within a commuting distance. For instance, if you land a job in Nebraska and move there, your next opportunity may have you relocating again, whereas here, there are more options.
Patch: What do you think the reason is behind the lack of hiring?
Chappel: It’s not money. Companies have cash. A real frustration right now is that the private sector has the funds, but there is fear about hiring. Most companies that I talk to, would love to hire people, and can actually justify the positions, but they are waiting for indicators that the economy is improving.
Patch: What services do you, as a recruiter, offer to people?
Chappel: I provide guidance and advice and don’t waste people’s time. Oftentimes companies leave jobs on monster and online sites that aren’t even open online. These days it pays to know people and I have those long-term relationships in place. Companies are getting bombarded with resumes from the internet. If you go to a recruiter, he or she is dealing with the hiring manager from the company and can get things done. The best way to get hired is through a personal connection.
Patch: Since we’re dealing with a competitive climate, have the rules changed in getting a job?
Chappel: Some of the rules have changed. For salaried, non-hourly employees, the old 9 to 5 jobs no longer exist. Most jobs require 45 to 50 hours per week on average. Consider longer commutes. Salaries may be lower, as positions being offered may be lower-for instance, an out-of-work vice president may be hired for a director position.
Patch: Lower salaries, longer commutes — any good news?
Chappel: A lot of companies are offering more vacation time than before. Most companies most I deal with, who are hiring skilled professionals, now offer three weeks plus, although sometimes that is grouped with personal days.
Patch: Any advice to all of us working, or looking for work, in this climate?
Chappel: Work harder than you ever have before. We’ve lost some of that competitive edge in the United States.
Patch: As a recruiter, who are you looking to connect with right now?
Candidates can find my list of jobs on my website and can email me their resumes. Also, I’m always looking for good companies to partner with that are hiring, in any sector. I have several hundred affiliate partners specializations that I can tap into.
Chappel’s 5 Top Tips for Job Seekers
1. Prepare for interviews: It’s much easier to research companies online now, so do it.
2. Brevity is key: Professionals should try to have two pages, tops. If you’re new to the field, a 1-page resume will suffice.
3. Use Key Words: You want to include words specific to your function, position, education and skills on your resume, so that it will pop up in keyword searches.
4. Dress up for the interview: Depending on the company, this doesn’t necessarily mean a suit and tie, but being sloppy, such as untucked shirts, is just never acceptable.
5. Strive for chemistry: Try to make personal connections with the interviewer.