Michigan and MEDC Miss the Mark with Talent Website Re-Launch

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If the purpose of the new State of Michigan job connect website is to match employers with job seekers, the upgrades that have been made miss that goal — for both employers and job seekers.

After a failed launch on October 1st, the second iteration of www.mitalent.org went live on October 16. The updated site incorporates 20-30 changes, designed to enhance the experience of the job seeker or employer. Unfortunately, what has been created does just the opposite; it creates barriers to connecting job seekers with employers seeking new talent. Considering the lack of talent in many skilled categories (IT, Accounting, Health Care, Skilled labor), the long term effect is the State may need to import workers or send the work to other  states. Both options are negative for the State of Michigan and its workforce.

Issues for Employers

No button functions for candidates to apply for positions. An “apply” button, like on the previous version, would be a great addition. Many job seekers are high school diploma or GED holders and the multi-step process to apply for jobs may seem confusing to them. For example, our firm Diversified Industrial Staffing, has noticed a more than 50% drop in new candidates applying for our job openings since October 16th.

Basic searches are bringing in very small amounts of candidate (only a fraction of what we were finding before). Unlike the older MichWorks website, and standard search portals like Monster and Career Builder, the restrictive search nature of the new www.mitalent.org site creates hours of extra work for employers looking for employees.

Not finding candidates in the expected categories for their skillset. As an example, our company did a CNC machinist search, only securing 2 candidates, which is highly unlikely. Because the job seekers self-select and self-identify themselves, they are not properly linking their skill sets with the pre-formatted job categories and are very dufficult to locate. This is a lose/lose for both employers and job seekers.

Job seekers are able to search by key words, many employers are not

The website times out quickly and frequently, even when actively using the site. In the previous version of the site, employers could have an active search open for several minutes, which allowed them to screen candidates on the telephone while keeping the search active. Employers can no longer do this, making the search process considerably slower, allowing employers to reach fewer candidates per man hour worked.

Geographic Radius areas are too broad. It’s very unlikely candidates will travel throughout a whole designated area. The geographic radius needs to be tighter. Job seekers, who earn less than $18 per/hour will rarely drive more than 30 minutes for a job.

Issues for Job Seekers

Job seekers could be missing out on 80% of the jobs available in Michigan. This is due to the option provided to job seekers that enables them to hide their resumes from the view of employers seeking to hire new employees. This feature allows job seekers to only apply for the jobs that are posted, that they are interested in. Statistically, only 20% of jobs are ever posted. By not allowing employers to contact job seekers through their online resume, job seekers are potentially missing out on the majority of open jobs.

There are too many career categories to search from. Sheena Lyengar, a professor of business at Columbia University and the author of “The Art of Choosing,” asserts that “the hypothesis that the presence of choice might be appealing as a theory.” However, Professor Lyengar concluded, “but in reality, people might find more and more choice to actually be debilitating.” Too many career type choices overwhelm the average job seeker. A high number of seekers do not have a college education. Like a newspaper that is written at an elementary school level, the www.mitalent.org site should simplify its offerings, allowing it to have more mass appeal for job seekers.

Job seekers are empowered to exclude jobs posted from recruiting and staffing companies and other job boards. The staffing industry places 3 million people per day and generates $117 billion in revenue annually according to www.workforce.com. The Staffing Industry is a significant contributor to the economy, yet by offering job seekers the option to not consider working with the staffing industry, the State of Michigan is essentially telling job seekers to ignore a massive source of new job opportunities. I fail to see how this benefits the job seeker.

The State of Michigan has decided to block many recruiters and staffing companies from viewing job seeker profiles on the site. Additionally, while recruiting and staffing companies have a key purpose in connecting job seekers with job opportunities, in the eyes of the MEDC, they are competing with traditional employers. That level of hypocrisy is appalling. ALL employers are battling for talent right now; banks take employees from other banks, manufacturers hire machinists from other manufacturers, etc. To single out recruiting and staffing firms who pay the same employer taxes as another other business in the State of Michigan is shortsighted and borders on industry exclusion.

The new www.mitalent.org website has plenty of room for improvement. For the sake of all of the stakeholders involved, I would hope they fix the numerous barriers to connecting employers with employees.

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