Three steps to enhance your job search

Man seeking for job

Looking for a job can be one of the most tenuous processes of adulthood. Especially over the last few years as the job seeking process has dramatically shifted.

Society has promoted a somewhat unfair importance of a college degree. Those of us who graduated college feel like we should be guaranteed a job. Those of us who did not attend college can feel like there are seldom opportunities for us.

While at one time we were confined to the listings in our local newspapers, today’s technologies open new opportunities both near and far. Although I haven’t found a full-time job yet, I have discovered several useful steps that could help everyone in your job search.

First, do something. Anything.

Your potential employer won’t be impressed to see a huge gap between your jobs. So, volunteer, intern or find anything to add experience to your resume. Doing so will show that your time without a “formal job” was time still well spent gaining skills that may be useful to a new employer.

Second, use your connections.

We’ve all heard the saying “it’s not what you know but who you know.” It’s true. Many employers admit that they are more likely to give someone a job interview if they are familiar with their reference. It’s important for you to actively seek out and establish relationships. You never know who could introduce you to your next job. So start increasing your network and promoting your skills.

Third, know your position.

When you land an interview for a position, you have to know the basics of the position before you walk into the interview. You have to show you care about your potential position, so even if you haven’t worked in the field before, get familiar with the tasks expected of you. For example, if you have an opportunity to become a barista you should at least know that you will be required to mix coffee, interact with people and stand for long hours. Knowing the basics and having a positive attitude will give you a leg up on the competition.

I plan on employing these tactics as I continue my search and I hope you do, too. Good luck!

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Employers Are Facing the Worst Talent Shortage Since 2007

Employers facing Talent Shortage

Some organizations are increasing on-the-job training to meet the challenge

Published by Roy Maurer of Society of Human Resource Management

Employers across the globe are facing the most acute talent shortage since the Great Recession, according to ManpowerGroup’s latest Talent Shortage Survey.

Of the more than 42,300 employers surveyed, 40 percent cited hiring difficulties—the highest level since 2007 (41 percent) and up from 38 percent in 2015.

Closer to half (46 percent) of U.S. employers reported difficulties filling jobs due to lack of available talent, a significant rise from the 32 percent that reported so in 2015.

The most severe talent shortages were reported in Japan (86 percent), Taiwan (73 percent) and Romania (72 percent). Just 10 percent of Chinese employers reported hiring difficulties, the lowest of all countries surveyed.

For the fifth consecutive year, skilled trades positions such as electricians, carpenters, masons and plumbers remain the hardest to fill across all 42 countries surveyed.

“Part of the problem is fewer people see these roles as an attractive career path, often not realizing how well many of them pay,” said Sunny Ackerman, Manpower’s vice president and general manager for U.S. field operations. “With relatively strong job creation over the past few years, individuals simply have more choices about where they work—we are shifting from a talent rich environment to one that is far more competitive.”

The global IT talent gap has noticeably widened, with tech roles the second hardest-to-fill, up from ninth place in 2015. Demand is strongest in Asia Pacific, where IT roles now rank as the top most difficult to fill for the first time in a decade, but has grown steadily across all other regions as well. IT roles are ranked No. 10 hardest-to-fill in the U.S.

The rest of the global list of hardest-to-fill jobs includes: Sales Representatives, Engineers, Technicians, Drivers, Accounting and finance staff, Management, Production operators/machine operators, Secretaries, receptionists, administrative assistants and office support staff.

U.S. Employment Paradox

In many ways the growing talent shortage reflects an issue of quality versus quantity, or an abundance of labor, but not enough in-demand talent. Employers in the U.S. say there aren’t enough candidates with the skills they need, while “real” unemployment is estimated to be at around 10 percent and underemployment remains high. Unemployment levels for high school graduates is 18 percent and underemployment in 2016 is 34 percent, compared with only 27 percent in 2007, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

“Low unemployment paired with shorter skills cycles due to the speed of technological change means employers across the United States are struggling to fill positions,” said Kip Wright, senior vice president of Manpower North America. “We see this particularly in industries like manufacturing, construction, transportation and education.”

The talent shortage is driven, in part, by changes to skills requirements with employers increasingly needing more specialized skillsets. Nearly one in four respondents to the Manpower survey reported a lack of applicants, while another one in five employers said applicants do not have the relevant experience required, and lack technical skills.

That’s consistent with what Mike Knapp, CEO and co-founder of SkillSmart, a platform which connects job seekers with employers based on their skills, is seeing in the labor market.

“We believe these two elements are related in that people either aren’t applying because they know they don’t have the right skills, or many are applying knowing they don’t have the skills and are applying anyway, or don’t know they aren’t qualified,” he said. “Either way it is clearly becoming more critical to increase the transparency of skills that employers are seeking so jobseekers know what they’re shooting for, otherwise this gap is only likely to get larger.”

On-the-Job Training Increases

The majority of U.S. workers view continuous training as essential to their future career success, according to the recently released State of American Jobs survey by the Pew Research Center and the Markle Foundation. The survey showed that workers believe a mix of technical and soft skills is essential, and most value job training, given the profound changes in the workplace over the past few decades.

In fact, on-the-job training has skyrocketed in the past 12 months, according to the Manpower study. Nearly half (48 percent) of U.S. employers reported upskilling their staff in 2016, while only 12 percent were training their employees a year ago.

“When the talent isn’t available, organizations need to turn to training and developing their own people, and in many cases this means first identifying the skills that will be required in increasingly digital industries, like manufacturing,” Wright said.

This is where companies like SkillSmart and open online educational providers like Coursera—which offers job-specific training—come in.

Upskilling the current workforce can make it easier to fill higher-level skilled positions and backfill entry-level positions, but “there still needs to be more effective and transparent strategies to identify and communicate the skills requirements for the entry-level positions,” Knapp said. “In addition, this strategy also requires developing clear career pathways for existing employees so they know how additional skills can increase their growth opportunities within the organization.”

The Hiring Process Re-envisioned

Experts said that ultimately, employers must become more flexible and creative in their recruitment strategies in order to find a solution to the talent shortage.

Hiring managers can be better educated on the talent market. “HR can partner with the business and develop rotations into HR focused on recruitment as well as get buy-in for greater involvement and participation from the business on interviewing and selecting candidates and developing job descriptions for critical roles,” said Shanil Kaderali, executive vice president of global talent solutions at San Jose, Calif.-based Pierpoint International, a global recruitment process outsourcing firm.

Ackerman suggested employers consider all talent options available to them, including capturing untapped talent pools and ensuring qualified people are not screened out of jobs unnecessarily for not exactly matching criteria.

“Another important option is to explore different ways of working,” she said. “For example, a client in South Dakota was struggling to find individuals to fill a number of 40-hour a week manufacturing roles, but we kept meeting college students who were interested in part-time 20-hour per week roles. We worked with the client to divide the 40-hour role in half, and then were able to fill the positions. It just takes a bit of creativity.”

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JPMorgan Chase Report Finds Job Matching Technology Insufficient for Job Seekers, Employers


jpmorganchaseLack of Access to Technology and Poor Data Present Challenges for Low and Middle Skill Workers’ Ability to Find Good-paying Careers

Published by JPMorgan Chase

Technology innovations that match job seekers with employers are transforming the labor market, but these tools are not doing enough to help low and middle skill workers find quality jobs, according to a new JPMorgan Chase report. Both access and design issues are preventing potential employees and employers from identifying the appropriate job fit.

The report, “Swiping Right for the Job: How Tech is Changing Matching in the Workforce”, highlights the problems low and middle skilled workers and employers face in using technology, explores how tech is changing labor market interactions, and identifies the benefits, challenges and design changes required for labor market technology to have its greatest impact.

“Despite an increase in technology usage, we’re seeing missed opportunity in job matching due to design flaws and access barriers,” said Chauncy Lennon, Head of Workforce Initiatives, JPMorgan Chase. “We’ve identified how to more efficiently connect people with the jobs and training they need and if we turn these lessons learned into smarter tools, we’ll create economic opportunity for everyone.”

Labor market matching technology exists primarily online, and low- and middle-skill workers, who typically have wages below the median, are disproportionately likely to lack access to computers and the internet at home. Only sixty-three percent of those with a household income between $20,000 and $50,000 have access to broadband internet at home, compared to 80 percent of those with a household income between $50,000 and $75,000.

While job seekers with varying degrees of education use their smart phones for job searching at approximately the same rate, job seekers who have not attended college are much more likely to go through the cumbersome process of using their smart phones to fill out an online job application and create a resume or cover letter than those who have graduated from college. Also, low- and middle-skill workers are more likely to lack proficiency in using computers and the Internet, making it difficult to navigate labor market matching technology.

“JPMorgan Chase’s report underscores that too many skilled workers are being overlooked due to fixable architecture flaws in job matching technology,” said Byron Auguste, President and Co-Founder, Opportunity@Work. “When we design tools to take into account an individual’s personal nature and background, employers will find far better candidates to place in their companies and for a longer period of time.”

One example of a job matching tool design to address these issues is SkillSmart. Their platform is designed to connect job seekers, employers, and educators through mutually identified skills. The program allows employers to specify the skills needed for success in their company and helps individuals find opportunities based on their skillset. SkillSmart’s algorithm calculates how closely an applicant’s skills align with overall employer need. If job seekers do not have the necessary skills for a job they want, SkillSmart will provide suggestions for training opportunities. Additionally, SkillSmart helps educators to include in-demand skills in their curricula.

Based on interviews with 45 industry leaders and an exhaustive review of research, the Swipe Right report highlights that finding the right person for the job is a crucial component of business success, employee wellbeing, worker productivity, and economic health. The consequences of getting the match wrong are high both for employees and employers. The cost of replacing a worker can be as much as 60 percent of an employee’s annual salary.

Without good design, a tool will have limited usefulness and be challenging to implement. Without good implementation, a tool will not achieve its purpose of improved matching and quickly lose relevance. The report includes the following recommendations to improve the design and implementation of job matching technology:


Build with User-Centered Design: Ensure that the tool is easy to use for both employers and job seekers by involving and consulting them throughout the tool design process.
Use Target-Audience Language: The language used in job postings should avoid jargon and be familiar to the target job seeker.
Encourage Skills-based Hiring: Work with employers to foster skills-based job descriptions and hiring practices rather than rely on increasingly irrelevant gatekeeping credentials.
Engage Employers: Align with employers on occupational and skills definitions to develop a shared understanding among employers, training institutions, and job seekers.
Integrate Training Opportunities and Pathways: IInclude easily accessible information on training opportunities to help job seekers gain skills to qualify for their desired positions.
Consider Implicit Bias Mitigation: Reduce implicit bias in the hiring process by creating tools that do not expose employers to signals like names or addresses.
Keep an Eye on National Trends, Use Local Data: A tool that uses local data and corresponds to the realities of the local labor market will be most helpful to current job seekers.
Optimize for Mobile: An online tool should be created to reflect the ways that people use the internet, and mobile optimization is vital for job seekers who lack desktop access.


Support Job Seeker Needs and Access: Regardless of how well a technology tool is designed, some individuals will need in-person guidance, and digital inclusion efforts may be needed to help everyone access the tool.
Ongoing Activation of Industry Partners: Employers need to post their job openings through the tool and ensure that the information reflects their changing hiring needs.
Recognize Need for Continued Refinement and Investment: Since online technology quickly becomes outdated, continued investment is needed to keep a technology tool up-to-date and appealing for users.
Analyze Outcomes: Longitudinal data collection will help ensure that a technology tool aids employers in hiring by illuminating outcomes after the point of hire and helping determine best practices in labor market matching technology.

This project is part of a $250 million, five-year New Skills at Work initiative that JPMorgan Chase & Co. has developed to help inform and accelerate demand-driven skills training and provide greater economic opportunity for all. Launched in 2013, New Skills at Work is providing data-driven analyses, engaging employers in sector partnerships, and supporting training programs that are aligned with local demand.

The full report can be found online at

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: SkillSmart Announces Partnership with the Milwaukee Bucks

Milwaukee Bucks

New Contract with the Milwaukee Bucks of the NBA to Drive Local Economic Growth and Employment Opportunities During Arena Construction

Germantown, MD – October 5, 2016 – SkillSmart, Inc. announced today at the Close It Summit that it has been retained by the Milwaukee Bucks of the NBA to drive workforce development in the Milwaukee, WI region. Leading up to and throughout the construction of the Bucks’ new arena, slated through 2018, SkillSmart will help local job seekers learn about and indicate interest in employment opportunities, as well as connect with training partners and contractors.

The talent development company has developed a customized online platform, in collaboration with the Bucks, to identify and advertise construction opportunities for the local workforce. The Milwaukee Bucks will utilize the SkillSmart platform to enable job seekers to create profiles, understand requirements for open positions, and connect with training partners to become qualified. Leading up to construction, contractors will use the platform to identify candidates for their open construction positions.

“Both SkillSmart and the Bucks are committed to using local workforce development as an opportunity to drive regional economic growth,” said SkillSmart Co-Founder, SVP & General Counsel Jason Green. “This project is intended to ensure the local Milwaukee community experiences the benefits, including job creation, of the arena’s construction and operating jobs.”

The job portal will go live in mid-October for job seekers to begin reviewing open positions, required skills, and training opportunities.


About SkillSmart
SkillSmart is a for-purpose tech company that is reshaping how employers identify and hire talent. Its employer-driven hiring platform helps growing organizations and industries find the talent they need by matching job seekers to employment opportunities based on skills rather than traditional proxies like a degree. We are based in Germantown, Md. and help empower employers and job seekers to make the right match in states across the country. For more information, please visit or find us on Twitter @SkillSmartUS and Facebook @SkillSmartUS.
About the Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center
To create a new way for Milwaukee to live, to work, and to play. More than just an arena, the Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center is the central hub for recreation in Milwaukee, connecting communities, neighborhoods and generations… for generations to come.
The Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center will be much more than just the new home for the Milwaukee Bucks basketball. Designed to reflect the heritage, history and personality of Milwaukee while actively projecting progress, accessibility and a renewed sense of community, the state of the art, 714,000 square foot arena will be the hub of entertainment in Wisconsin and the engine that drives growth in downtown Milwaukee. For more information on the Arena project please visit:
For more information, contact:
Kyle Friis,
(301) 250-1015
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: SkillSmart Announces New Contract to Launch Cybersecurity Pilot

cybersecurityNew Workforce Development Contract is with the Chesapeake Regional Tech Council to Support Regional Tech and Cybersecurity Staffing

Germantown, MD – September 21, 2016 – SkillSmart announced announced today that it has been retained by the Chesapeake Regional Tech Council to connect regional tech and cyber employers with qualified, local talent. The hiring and skills-matching company, working with the Chesapeake Regional Tech Council (CTRC) and its 300 corporate members, will develop an online jobs portal called

In September, SkillSmart and CRTC will host a Back to School event to launch the jobs platform as well as four focus groups with CRTC members to better understand hiring needs and to identify job-specific skills. SkillSmart will use this data to develop a detailed job profile for each opportunity, and job seekers will build unique profiles to determine compatibility with open positions. By focusing on the skills required and those job seekers have, both candidates and employers can see if the two are well-matched.

“There are 18,000 unfilled cybersecurity jobs in the DC metro region and we have consistently heard that identifying and hiring the right talent is one of the biggest challenges employers face,” said Michael Knapp, CEO and co-founder of SkillSmart. “We are looking forward to this partnership with CRTC and local cybersecurity employers to drive the local pipeline of talent into this growing industry.”

To further develop the cybersecurity talent pipeline in the region, SkillSmart and CRTC are partnering with Anne Arundel Community College and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County to identify education pathways to cyber jobs. Together, SkillSmart, CRTC and these local educational partners will create a talent pool trained with the skills necessary to be hired in the local workforce.

The job portal will go live in mid-October.


About SkillSmart
SkillSmart is a for-purpose tech company that is reshaping how employers identify and hire talent. Its employer-driven hiring platform helps growing organizations and industries find the talent they need by matching job seekers to employment opportunities based on skills rather than traditional proxies like a degree. We are based in Germantown, Md. and help empower employers and job seekers to make the right match in states across the country. For more information, please visit or find us on Twitter @SkillSmartUS and Facebook @SkillSmartUS.
About The Chesapeake Regional Tech Council
The Chesapeake Regional Tech Council (CRTC) is a member-driven organization that supports technology entrepreneurship, technology commercialization, and successful business growth by connecting, educating and advocating for our members in and around the Chesapeake region. The CRTC strives to be a premier resource for growing technology-based businesses in the Annapolis-Washington-Baltimore region. More than 300 prospering businesses benefit from their membership with the CRTC and we invite you to participate. For more information, please visit
For more information, contact:
Kyle Friis,
(301) 250-1015
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Local Job-Matching Firm SkillSmart Commits to White House Partnership for Refugees

istock_44536512_smallSkillSmart Joins White House Call to Action for Private Sector Engagement on Global Refugee Crisis

Germantown, MD – September 20, 2016 – Today, SkillSmart announced its participation as a partner in the White House Call to Action for private sector engagement on the global refugee crisis. To facilitate this engagement, the White House launched the Partnership for Refugees and called on the private sector to make new, measurable and significant commitments that will that will have a long-term, sustainable impact on refugees.

“There are 21 million refugees around the world struggling to regain normalcy in their lives. It’s important that we in the private sector do our part to support this community, and at SkillSmart we’re committed to help,” said Jason Green, SkillSmart Co-Founder, SVP and General Counsel. “Refugees are mothers, fathers, doctors, teachers and students, and they deserve the stability and self-sufficiency that employment can provide.”

SkillSmart is proud to stand with President Obama and join the Partnership for Refugees. Refugees are a valuable untapped resource and, if given the opportunity, can thrive and contribute wherever they reside. SkillSmart’s commitment is focused on education, employment, and enablement, and the job-matching startup will collaborate with a refugee resettlement organization to provide the hiring platform to match refugee job seekers with participating employers.

“Too often the refugee community is unable to use the full breadth of their skillset due to lack of credential recognition, which also has a real impact on employers seeking skilled workers ” said Mike Knapp, SkillSmart’s CEO and Co-Founder. “Their credentials may not transfer, but their skills can and SkillSmart’s web-based platform will help to match their skills to available opportunities and connect to tailored training courses to continue to climb the ladder of mobility.”

SkillSmart has pledged to provide its skills matching and capacity building platform to match refugee job seekers with participating employers and educational institutions. These activities are aligned with the goal of the Call to Action: to empower refugees to thrive and contribute to society wherever they reside by providing them with the infrastructure, resources and tools they need to access education and skills, gain meaningful employment and become self-reliant.

SkillSmart joins more than 50 companies that have responded to President Obama’s Call to Action including Airbnb, Chobani, Google, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Microsoft, UPS, TripAdvisor, and more. To learn about the Partnership for Refugees, visit


About SkillSmart
SkillSmart is a for-purpose tech company that is reshaping how employers identify and hire talent. Its employer-driven hiring platform helps growing organizations and industries find the talent they need by matching job seekers to employment opportunities based on skills rather than traditional proxies like a degree. We are based in Germantown, Md. and help empower employers and job seekers to make the right match in states across the country. For more information, please visit or find us on Twitter @SkillSmartUS and Facebook @SkillSmartUS.
For more information, contact:
Kyle Friis,
(301) 250-1015
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Making the Right Connections to Close the Skills Gap

assessing skills required - a solution to help job seekers

One startup is developing a solution to help job seekers match skills and potential to jobs

 By Roy Maurer,

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a record high 5.9 million job openings this month, while roughly 8 million Americans are being counted as unemployed and about one-third of employers consistently say that they can’t find the workers they need.

It is striking evidence of the oft-mentioned skills gap—the disparity between what skills employers say they need and the skills job seekers have. Understanding the skills gap is complicated and the solutions are multiform, including educating more people in the skills needed for high-demand fields, implementing more employer training programs and easing up on requirements for open positions.

We’ve realized that national policy solutions are important, but the local business in Massachusetts that can’t find the talent they need to fill a manufacturing contract, that’s the real problem. The skills gap needs to be reduced in the area of aligning skills for particular workforces to meet particular demand.

SHRM Online talked with Mike Knapp and Jason Green, the co-founders of the job placement platform SkillSmart, about their collaborative, community-focused approach to connecting employers, job seekers and educational partners to help close identified skills gaps.

Knapp has more than 20 years of experience in technology, public policy and local government, recently serving on the Montgomery County Council in Maryland, where he worked to create a pipeline of skilled workers that matched the needs of local and regional employers.

Green most recently served at the White House advising President Barack Obama on workforce development policy, among other areas.

SHRM Online: We’ve been talking about the skills gap between employers and job seekers for a while now. Is it closing at all?

Green: For so long there was a question of “Is there a skills gap?” Some would say “No, there’s clearly enough supply to meet demand, but the labor force may be in Arizona when it’s needed in New England.” Well, that’s a skills gap. We’ve realized that national policy solutions are important, but the local business in Massachusetts that can’t find the talent they need to fill a manufacturing contract, that’s the real problem. The skills gap needs to be reduced in the area of aligning skills for particular workforces to meet particular demand.

Knapp: There are examples where the pain point is so significant that specific organizations have figured out a way to close that gap, but those are individual cases. I don’t think you can say that the needle has been moved on a national scale. Skills gaps are evident in sectors such as oil and gas, manufacturing, and construction because you have older workers retiring and a whole cohort of people—Generation X and Millennials—who never entered those industries. So how do you train the next generation to recognize where those opportunities are? Those are the challenges out there. I don’t know if it falls under the traditional definition of the skills gap, but it’s a real thing that companies will face and individuals will have an opportunity to take advantage of if they can find the right pathway.

I was walking the exhibit floor of the SHRM Annual Conference [in June 2016] and listening to people talk about solving the hiring problem. “You need more resumes.” “You need more clickthroughs.” “You need to be able to post your jobs everywhere.” The expectation is that if you comb through more candidates, presumably someone in there is the right fit. People have fallen into that mindset. But what if we did a better job of articulating the skills needed and raked in fewer—but better—candidates? Instead of wading through thousands of resumes to get to a manageable number, why not focus on getting to the manageable number first by being able to see people with a majority of the required skills right from the get-go?

SHRM Online: Where does SkillSmart fit into the workforce development ecosystem?

Knapp: Right in the middle, between employers, job seekers and educational institutions. We saw the opportunity to create a platform that allows those entities to really engage with each other, input their information, and increase the level of transparency and communication in the process. Whether it’s working within a local community or an industry sector, we can provide a place that allows an employer to identify the skills it is seeking for a position. The job seeker can then find out which skills are needed for that position. Maybe they only possess four out of 11 required skills, but they now know what those skills are. Then we link them to where they can acquire those additional skills, whether it’s an experiential or learning opportunity. And their progress can be tracked and measured.

Whether it’s working within a local community or an industry sector, we can provide a place that allows an employer to identify the skills it is seeking for a position. The job seeker can then find out which skills are needed for that position.

Green: Undergirding all of that is good data. The public workforce development system needs better data. Workforce training providers want to make sure that the training being offered is actually going to meet the needs of employers. Once we know the skills that are needed by local employers and the skills that are lacking in the local workforce, employers or community colleges can design a boot camp, for example, to teach those skills. The job seeker, employer and educator all get something more relevant. As a result of sitting in the middle and connecting the dots, you now have a better outcome for all three stakeholders.

SHRM Online: How does SkillSmart work?

Green: Step one is understanding what’s required. Employers’ job postings are broken down into skills to be immediately relatable to job seekers. From the job seeker’s perspective, it is intended to be a place to go and understand exactly what prerequisites and skills are needed for a certain job. For example, it could be a GED [certificate], a CDL [commercial driver’s license] and six identified skills.

Step two gives the job seekers the ability to advertise themselves. They fill out a profile that isn’t limited to past employment or where they went to school. The profile shows where they demonstrated certain skill sets like teamwork or leadership or customer service. It could come from work experience, the military or in a volunteer capacity. Job seekers’ skills information is aggregated and calibrated into a score for each open position. Employers see the score and can easily see who matches to the job best.

The third step is after [a job seeker comes] up short for a particular role, feedback is provided. Without feedback, you don’t know if the reason you weren’t called back is because you weren’t qualified or that they never even looked at your resume. The platform shows job seekers the skills that their experience supports and doesn’t support, and the courses that local education partners provide. We work with Northern Virginia Community College and Prince George’s Community College in the Washington, D.C., area, for example, to break down their courses into skills outcomes and develop lean-learning educational opportunities.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Local Tech Startup SkillSmart to Support AAWDC’s efforts to Staff Retail and Restaurant Positions at BWI Airport

airportNew Workforce Development Contract is with Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corporation

Germantown, MD – September 13, 2016 – SkillSmart announced today that it has been retained by Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corporation in Anne Arundel County, Maryland to staff retail and restaurant positions at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI Airport).

The hiring and skills-matching technology company, working in partnership with Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corporation (AAWDC), BWI Airport and AIRMALL USA, will develop a customized online experience at through which job seekers will find open positions, as well as the corresponding job profiles that identify the unique skills required for each position. By focusing on the skills required by employers and those held by job seekers, both candidates and employers can evaluate whether the two are well-matched.

“This partnership is a unique opportunity for the greater Baltimore community to connect local employers at the airport with qualified candidates looking for jobs,” said SkillSmart CEO and co-founder Michael Knapp. “We are looking forward to working with AAWDC to help develop the local workforce and build growth in the regional economy.”

By understanding the specific hiring needs of AIRMALL’s employers, SkillSmart and AAWDC can assess the skills in the workforce and create a pipeline of qualified talent for the open positions at BWI Airport.

The job portal will go live in mid-September.


About SkillSmart
SkillSmart is a for-purpose tech company that is reshaping how employers identify and hire talent. Its employer-driven hiring platform helps growing organizations and industries find the talent they need by matching job seekers to employment opportunities based on skills rather than traditional proxies like degrees or certifications. We are based in Germantown, Md. and help empower employers and job seekers to make the right match in states across the country. For more information, please visit or find us on Twitter @SkillSmartUS and Facebook @SkillSmartUS.
About Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corporation
AAWDC is 501C3 nonprofit corporation that provides innovative, high quality workforce development services to Anne Arundel County businesses and citizens.  AAWDC is the bridge between understanding the workforce and talent development needs of local and regional businesses and preparing individuals to meet their full career potential. For more information please visit
For more information, contact:
Kyle Friis,
(301) 250-1015
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How to Hire Good People for Your Farm Operation

agby Alison Rice,

Spend just a little time talking with dairy farmers, and you’ll quickly learn about one of their key pain points: finding and keeping good workers.

“We do have a lot of challenges in New York that’s keeping farms from expanding,” Tonya Van Slyke of the North East Diary Producers Association told AgDay this summer. “The first one is really labor.”

It’s a challenge that extends to both hiring and retention. “It’s just difficult to find that person who wants to put in a long day, get dirty, and come back the next day. The folks we have tried to hire typically will stay six or nine months and then they will go on,” added Sarah Noble-Moag of Pavilion, N.Y.

If this situation sounds all too familiar, Mike Knapp has some ideas for you.

“Most employers are pretty bad at identifying the skills they need,” says Knapp, CEO and co-founder of SkillSmart in Germantown, Md., who urges ag employers to focus not on applicants’ specific job title history, but the skills they used in those jobs and whether or not those are a good fit for your operation.

He also encourages ag employers—farmers, ranchers, ag retailers—to think longer term about each new hire and how they might contribute to the future of your operation and even the industry overall. “You can’t just make sure you have the right person today,” says Knapp, particularly if you hope to grow your farm operation. “There is a big gap between the smaller family farms where a few people do everything to the large operations where things are more specialized.”

For smaller farm operations, that’s an advantage worth highlighting with applicants. Rather than pitching a position as just a job, tell potential hires what skills they will learn and how those might fit into their future ag career, Knapp advises.  “This can really help smaller farmers get the entry-level workers they need and also build the pipeline for the industry,” he says.

Afraid of investing all these extra effort only to have these more promising workers leave too? That’s understandable, but Knapp reminds farmers to stay committed to hiring quality workers and helping them develop their skills, rather than simply filling the slot with someone who is good enough for now. “The reality is you’re seeing the same turnover (regardless of who you hire), and you’re not getting the good people,” he warns.

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Skills-Based Hiring: A Primer

Our friends at General Assembly recently published a policy briefing worthy of a read by every business. Here are a few of the most salient points.

Explosive job growth in high-tech fields is creating unprecedented opportunity for social and economic mobility. But it also creates unprecedented risk of exacerbating income gaps and inequality if new categories of jobs exclude a generation of talent because they didn’t attend the right schools or have the right initial job experiences. Skills-based hiring isn’t about abandoning the college degree, but it is about using data to identify job candidates that can succeed, without regard to signals like college ranking or social networks. Innovate+Educate defines skills-based hiring as “the act of incorporating a tangible and objective measure of skills and skill level into the hiring process.” It’s not a new idea, but it’s a powerful one.

Building “a global community of individuals empowered to pursue the work they love” starts with developing the skills and competencies to launch a career. It’s about cultivating the talent that exists in unexpected places, and creating a more diverse workforce that draws upon our nation’s collective skills and perspectives. But it also means addressing the “last mile” challenge of bridging education and employment that leads to diversity gaps in high-growth fields and hybrid jobs.

Large employers know that a more diverse workforce is a more talented workforce, but often struggle to identify candidates from diverse social and educational backgrounds. The use of predictive analytics in the hiring process is in its infancy. As a result, employers often fall back on sorting mechanisms like college rank or degree that make the hiring process manageable—but risk excluding hidden talent.

“Employers are the most important piece of the skills-based hiring puzzle,” said Jamai Blivin, founder and CEO of Innovate+Educate. “Employer demand has the power to impact every other component of the ecosystem, from which competencies job-seekers must demonstrate, to the process by which they can do so.”

Skills-based hiring is particularly relevant to technology jobs, where skills (quality of code, for example) are easier to assess. It is no surprise that investors have been drawn to skills-based hiring startups focused on technology skills. In fact, VC funding for recruiting technology startups was $219 million in 2014, double the investments seen in 2009.

“Employers are eager to use practical assessments because they are strong predictors of success on the job,” said Kieran Luke, General Manager of Credentials at General Assembly.

Assessments for workplace competencies allow employers to more quickly identify individuals with important skills, saving time and money. According to a report by Innovate+Educate, skills-based hiring practices can lead to reductions in turnover (25-75% improvement), reductions in time-to-hire (50-70% improvement), reductions in cost-to-hire (70% improvement), and reductions in time needed to train employees (50% improvement).

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