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Monthly Job Trends – January 2017

The economy has finally awakened from its long slumber, largely signified by the recent interest rate hikes the Fed has started to introduce after years of untouched, low rates. Naturally, a boosted economy means things are looking better on the jobs front. Interestingly enough, recent months have seen some fluctuations in unemployment numbers. According to the January US Jobs Report from the BLS, temporary help employment was up nearly 1% from the end of 2015 to the end of 2016; however, in the last season of 2016, the Bureau reports a slight increase in unemployment.

Here’s how last month’s numbers shake out from an industry-level perspective:

Temporary Help

Temporary help services took a bit of a hit in December 2016, losing 15,500 jobs.    Although the loss of jobs may seem significant, temporary employment penetration last month fell only slightly below the all-time high of 2.06%, measuring in at 2.04% as 2016 came to a close.


The financial services sector finished 2016 strong, weighing in at 8,349,000 total jobs as of December 2016, according to the BLS. This industry has seen very steady, incremental growth for the past few years. If progress continues on this trend, the financial industry should be set up for a successful 2017.

Naturally, a number of elements will be attributable to the ultimate success of the financial services sector, but at this time, the BLS estimates continued growth of 12% from 2014 to 2024, which is measured faster than average.

The healthcare industry added 63,300 in December, attributable to the industry’s third-largest month-over-month growth since June of 2014. This industry also led the pack in terms of job growth across non-farm employment. Although the health industry does ebb and flow in terms of the number of jobs it creates each month, the number of jobs has steadily risen each month for the past several years. The BLS reported 17,988,300 health-related jobs as of June 2014. As of December 2016, this number had risen to 19,390,100.

Professional Services

On a percentage basis, employment in the professional services industry increased by 0.2%, falling right in line with the financial activities industry. Numerically, this boost equated to the addition of 30,500 jobs in December 2016. Professional services contributed to the second-highest overall growth across calendar year 2016, closing out the year with a total of 498,900 new jobs, according to the BLS. This number was only surpassed by the healthcare industry, which is said to have added 514,100 jobs in 2016 by the time December came to an end.

Retail Trade

Although the growth in retail trade wasn’t quite as substantial as some of the other industries in December 2016, this sector still reported positive numbers. In the last month of 2016, the BLS indicates a total of 6,300 jobs were added.

The information sector has been one of the more volatile fields as of late. The industry finished December 2016 with a decrease in jobs by about 6,000 positions from November 2016. The final count measured in at 2,761,000 jobs, which is actually almost exactly where December 2015 came in.


Overall, December 2016 finished strong, with marked growth in a number of industries. The BLS reports aggregate neutrality in terms of change over the last quarter of 2016 after a year of strong growth. We look forward to seeing what 2017 has in store for the jobs market.


Source:  Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA)


Managed Services Providers (MSPs) have enjoyed rapid growth over the past few years, and expectation for future growth are high. But cost is no longer the top reason for choosing an MSP. Companies are looking for efficiency and reliability of IT operations, enhanced security and compliance, and freeing up IT staff for strategic work.[1] They have concerns about continuity during transition and skepticism regarding cost savings.[2]

CompTIA, in a press release for their 2016 MSP survey, said MSPs expect high revenue grown over the next two years, but they have concerns about declining margins as services become commoditized. CompTIA says the difficulties are self-inflicted, caused by competition based solely on price.[3]

The MSP Manager as Strategic Partner

The focus on price underscores the need for managers in MSP operations to become master collaborators. Customer service in managed services is much more than providing baseline services at an attractive price. The emphasis is shifting more toward a strategic partnership. The conversation should be about value, not cost.

Build Relationships

A managed services partner will spend as much time as needed to understand the business model of the customer organization and how technology resources support it. He/she will learn the current and desired future state of the client’s technology mix and will understand the digital maturity of the organization, its strengths, and its weaknesses. A good MSP manager will establish strong working relationships and learn the work, personal dynamics, and decision-making preference of the client team.

A solid partnership will include a healthy relationship with the customer’s IT group. IT organizations can be concerned about losing control, and in smaller firms, the concern could be about losing their jobs.[4] The emphasis should be on leveraging the strengths of the IT group and helping them define their role. The most significant benefit for IT is to get off the “treadmill” so they can focus on value-added projects and services.

Define Unique Solutions

No two organizations are exactly alike. Each one requires a specific plan for its unique needs. Trying to cram a client group into a canned solution will only sow doubt the service provider is flexible and knowledgeable enough to execute the plan. The time spent in crafting the right solution will pay dividends of trust.

A surprise expense can ruin a relationship. A good services partner will spell out in detail what will and will not be provided in the SLA. The agreement will minimize the possibility of surprises by offering a price schedule for any potential additional services.

Stay Ahead of Innovation

There is no substitute for knowledge. The quality of the relationship will depend on how well the team can answer questions and concerns—not only about the service being discussed but the entire range of managed IT services. Deep expertise is not negotiable.

Prepare for the Cloud

Some organizations are reducing their need for managed services because they acquire self-implemented software platforms. Almost every business is moving to the cloud or considering it, and a proactive partner will understand the implications.

One of the primary risks is complacency. Having sensitive data managed by a cloud platform provider does not remove the client organization from the responsibility for security and oversight. Although the risk is usually slight, a cloud vendor’s services could be lost at any time. A DRP is essential. Even if the cloud provider has a plan, the client organization must exercise due diligence.

The right approach to the cloud is for an MSP to become a cloud enabler, helping clients to manage the and coordinate their cloud services.

Be Proactive

A strategic partner will seek to anticipate customer needs. It’s impossible to anticipate everything, and no one has an answer for every contingency, but having a plan and knowing where to get the information is essential.

One of the most important ways to be proactive is to report and review on the services the MSP provides. When you are doing a great job, your services are often invisible. Frequent reviews of what work you perform and how well you are meeting SLA terms will keep the value you add in the forefront of customers’ minds.[5] It also creates a forum for creating new opportunities.


The Complete Service Provider

Providing excellent service in today’s volatile technology world requires agility and a relentless focus on both partner relationships and service execution. Providing tactical solutions will lead to diminishing returns for both MSPs and customer organizations. Every member of the team should focus on being both strategic partner and tactician.


[1] Olavsrud, Thor. “Why businesses are turning to managed IT services.” CIO. June 03, 2015.

[2] Korolov, Maria. “Top five reasons companies are avoiding managed services.” CSO Online. June 11, 2015.

[3] “New CompTIA study of managed it services market reveals contradictions.” CompTIA. June 29, 2016.

[4] Korolov.

[5] “5th Annual Trends in Managed Services” CompTIA Research Report.June 2016.

Health care hiring: The need for IT talent [Video]

Digital devices and electronic systems can help improve the speed and quality of healthcare. However, if unsecured, they can compromise patient information and privacy.

Hi, and welcome back to the APN video blog.

Between technology becoming more sophisticated and cyberthreats growing more aggressive, the need for IT professionals in healthcare has never been so clear. According to Trend Micro, health care is the most targeted industry for data breaches. And this is especially concerning when you consider the current shortage in cybersecurity skills.

To increase the chances of finding, onboarding and retaining top IT security talent, HR leaders should outsource through a third-party agency. By choosing one that specializes in both health care staffing and technology solutions, employers will enhance their access to the most qualified candidates. 

That’s all for now. Thanks for watching, and for more hiring tips and insight, stick with APN!

Tips for enhancing your supplier diversity program

Supplier diversity programs are gaining more attention from businesses looking to increase their social responsibility, but enhancing inclusion initiatives and developing a diverse vendor base isn't just about being able to demonstrate sound ethics.

Minority-owned businesses, or MOB, are rapidly expanding. According to the United States Census Bureau, between 2007 and 2012 the number of minority-owned firms in America grew from 5.8 million to 8 million. And because traditionally underrepresented groups are obtaining increased economy share, they present organizations with the opportunity to improve their bottom line and gain a competitive advantage.

Supplier diversity benefits and trends
As CVM Solutions pointed out, by tapping into the pool of underutilized suppliers for the procurement of products and services, you're able to:

  • Position your company as an equal opportunity employer
  • Access greater contract opportunities
  • Drive innovations with new services and products
  • Help strengthen the economy and support the economic growth of all groups
  • Appeal to consumers becoming increasingly demanding of social responsibility
  • Cater to the needs of shifting demographics and emerging markets
Creating a diverse supplier base can give you a competitive advantage.Creating a diverse supplier base can give you a competitive advantage.

To best optimize your supplier diversity initiatives, it is important to consider what direction the segment is headed in. In an article for Wharton Magazine, Rod Robinson recently highlighted some of the trends and predictions transforming supplier diversity programs. He said it likely won't be long before publicly traded companies will be required to disclose the data that reveal how effective their programs are.

Robinson also indicated that being forced to reveal more information will usher in increased scrutiny, thus adding to the pressure put on organizations to improve the quality, accuracy and performance of suppler diversity programs.

However, even if your company recognizes the value in supplier diversity programs, effectively implementing and executing one can be challenging. Some companies are limited in their access to a diverse crowd of suppliers. Others don't have the resources or capabilities that allow them to effectively find, vet and maintain a strong and dynamic network of vendors. And of the businesses that do have a supplier diversity program in place, many are not adequately measuring the performance of them. If you're only goal in diversifying the supplier base is to meet government requirements and remain compliant, you are not maximizing the potential of its success. Below are some tips for making the most of your supplier diversity program.

"Many companies are not maximizing the value of supplier diversity programs."

Get all hands on deck
Making the commitment to elevate supplier diversity needs to happen at all levels of the company. Your business, from the C-suite down, needs to understand the importance of these initiatives and view it as a priority. But in order for this to happen, it is imperative that corporate leaders see how it is beneficial for all involved parties, not just certain groups.

Identify and quantify specific goals
It's nearly impossible for you to accurately assess the effectiveness of a program and how successful its performance has been if you don't know what you're measuring it against. What are the specific goals of the company? What qualifies as a success? These goals should be quantified and treated as other key performance indicators and metrics.

To further improve the financial gains of the supplier diversity program, you could conduct an internal evaluation or survey other partners about what some of the advantages and issues of working with your company are. Being aware of this information can help you identify which areas must be prioritized, and it allows you to enhance the chances of other diverse suppliers wanting to work with you. Having a bigger pool of options to choose from can lead to cost-saving opportunities.

Assess the value of each supplier
Just because a supplier adds to the diversity base, doesn't mean it is necessarily going to contribute the success of your organization. As with any business partnership, it is critical that the company is evaluated to determine how much integrity, credibility and quality it possess.

"Diversifying your supplier base is about more than just meeting a quota."

Your supplier diversity program needs to about more than simply meeting a quota. The success of it is not based on how many diverse vendors you can add to your network, or at least it shouldn't be. Rather than focusing on the number of suppliers, measure how much value they bring to the organization. For example, how much of the procurement budget is being allocated to diverse suppliers?

Leverage certified partners
Another way you can improve the quality of your supplier diversity program is by vetting potential firms through experienced third-party consultants. For smaller firms, as well as larger corporations that don't have the talent, time, resources or skills to dedicate to developing and maintaining the program, consulting companies can help them tap into a bigger pool of diverse suppliers.

Working with a consultant that is certified by the National Minority Supplier Development Council will allow you to streamline your supplier diversity initiatives. Not only will they be able to connect you with quality vendors that can provide your organization with the necessary value you're looking for, but they can also ensure that each supplier will count towards your diversity quota.

Although artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies have begun to eliminate the need for administrative and customer service workers, IT pros need not be concerned.

And a recent study showed that many aren’t.

Hi, and welcome to the APN video blog!

Some have argued that as AI systems advance in their abilities to think creatively and solve complex challenges, the demand for tech workers may start to decline.

But these innovations are actually expected to improve the IT job market.

Not only will IT pros be able to focus more on the creative and strategic aspects of an organization, but robotics and automation technologies will help make these individuals more efficient at completing their jobs.  Plus, as these self-teaching systems advance and more companies adopt them, the IT job opportunities available to applicants will grow. 

Artificial intelligence will undoubtedly change the IT job market. Fortunately, these adjustments will benefit IT pros.

That’s all for today. For more IT staffing insight and tips, stick with APN!

There's been a lot of discussion surrounding the possible shortage in IT talent.

CRN reported on a recent panel held at the Massachusetts State House in which Verizon Senior Manager Manuel Zapata said that there are simply not enough computer scientists in the workforce available to fill the tech positions that are increasingly opening up. As a job-seeking IT pro, this should be great news. With more opportunities available, you can be more selective in which company to work for, right? This is true. But there's something else you should take into consideration when applying for jobs: Many corporations are reconsidering what qualities and skills they find most important in the people they hire for tech positions.

Google Industry Director Brian Cusack pointed out that, it's not a shortage in IT talent that is becoming an issue. Instead, he said, "I think the question is finding the right talent for the job. We need to hire individuals who have those same types of analytics skills that can be combined with salesmanship."

"There has been a shift in the kind of qualities companies want in IT pros."

The strategy of  recruiting job seekers that possess a blend of specialties is being adopted by giants in other segments. PwC FinTech Director Jeremy Drane recently told Coin Desk that filling financial technology positions can be challenging, not because the candidates aren't highly-skilled, but because they are overly specialized in one category. 

"For us, we're looking for people that cut across all domains, and there aren't a lot of people out there," he told the source.

It's not just businesses, then, that are experiencing increased competition in the job market. Developers and engineers now have to compete with applicants that have specialties in areas even outside of IT.  This is why, to become a more appealing candidate and improve your hireability, you need to focus on skills that aren't just about writing algorithms.

Here are some of the most important qualities and how you can demonstrate them in the recruitment process.

Critical and strategic thinking
In an interview, you already expect to be answering programming questions. Often, the hiring manager will ask you to solve a coding challenge. But it's important to keep in mind that gauging your ability to solve a problem isn't the only purpose of these puzzles. They're not just interested in the final conclusion, but the process you took to get there. Were you decisive and confident? Did you change strategies at any point? Did you need guidance or were you productive with exploring the issue on your own?

When you are being asked questions during the interview, don't just limit yourself to one answer. The hiring manager may highlight a (real or fake) problem they had and inquire about what solution you would propose. To demonstrate that you are capable of strategic thinking, instead of suggesting, for example, a single programming language, cover multiple scenarios where one may be better to use over another.

The approach IT pros take to problem solving can be as important as the result. The approach IT pros take to problem solving can be as important as the result.

Communication skills
It is important that you not only show you have the technical skills to solve the business challenges, but that you are able to clearly articulate to non-IT pros how and why a particular process was used. Practice discussing the way you solve an issue from start to finish. As companies begin to integrate the perspectives and opinions of tech workers more heavily into the overall corporate strategy for innovation in growth, it is going to be valuable to have an IT expert that can maintain clear communication. Therefore, it is important that you're able to convince the hiring manager you are able to communicate well.

If you're being interviewed by a hiring manager that isn't trained or knowledgeable in IT, avoid using too much industry jargon. So, before you head into the interview, it may help to explain some specific technical projects to a non-tech-savvy friend. If he or she is able to understand, you're likely doing it right.

IT continues to overlap with other areas of the business. Therefore, it is going to be increasingly important that you are able to collaborate and work well with other workers. This can be demonstrated on multiple levels, starting with that you include on your resume. Open source projects, for example, may indicate that you're comfortable working with other programmers' code.

"In IT hiring, it's not just technical skills that matter."

To convince a hiring manager that you are an IT pro who will fit in and get along with the staff, you need to hone your people skills. Ask about the company's current tech team and what struggles they face on the job. Inquire about other areas of the business to show you are looking at the big picture of the organization's performance, not just the individual responsibilities of the specific role you're applying for.

As the competitiveness of IT recruitment intensifies, you want to make sure you are prepared to promote yourself in a way that will be most appealing to the top companies. And, right now, that means harnessing a wide range of qualities and skills, only some of which are directly related to programming.

Most business leaders and decision-makers understand the importance of data security. But, according to a recent study conducted by Dell, not enough know the right way to go about it.

Hi, and welcome to the APN video blog.

Research has shown that 67 percent of IT pros agree that their organizations are not investing enough into data security budgets. And more than half of those surveyed said that cost is a major concern when installing new security features. 

 This information can give job-seeking IT pros an advantageous angle to persuade hiring managers when it comes to demonstrating the kind of value they can bring to the company.

Here’s the pitch: By recruiting you as a top data security specialist, your future employer can ensure strong security, without having to waste revenue on ineffective methods. 

That’s all for today. For more IT tips and insight, stick with APN!

Have you considered the possibility that a robot may take over your job as a IT pro someday? If so, you're not alone.

Many would argue that IT pros are probably the least threatened by artificial intelligence when it comes to future career opportunities. After all, robotic process automation has already cut the need for warehouse and factory workers and has taken over a large portion of administrative and customer service roles, and it is programmers and software engineers who are responsible for creating the sophisticated algorithms behind smart systems. 

Innovations influencing recruitment
However as machine learning and automation progress, software development and infrastructure management tools are increasingly accessible to people who aren't trained in programming and engineering.  Therefore, the rising prominence of cognitive computer intelligence is a trend IT job seekers need to stay on top of. Because, although these autonomous systems certainly aren't new, what they are being used is for is rapidly expanding.

"Autonomous systems aren't new, but what they're being used for is rapidly expanding."

An Accenture Technology Vision survey found that 70 percent of company leaders are significantly increasing their investments in artificial intelligence technologies and more than half expect to soon leverage ML and AI solutions. And achieving this goal is getting easier. In the last year alone, IBM, Amazon and Microsoft have released cloud-based ML solutions, and a growing number of startups are offering similar products.

This accelerating adoption of such technology is indicative of the qualities companies will start to look for in IT recruitment. To appeal to hiring managers, it is important that you understand not only what the high-demand skills will be in world of cognitive computing, but how they will be used to improve operations. Gaining insight on the direction artificial intelligence is taking can help you better understand the outlook of the IT job market and increase the chance of career success.

What risks does AI present to IT pros?
Let's make this clear: IT pros shouldn't be too concerned about competing with smart systems for employment. At least, not in the way other people seem to be. There are some areas of expertise that automation doesn't cover yet, such as creative and emotional thinking. Not to mention the extensive list of qualities essential to technological innovations, like curiosity and determination. This is one of the reasons why computerized intelligence will only change the nature of tech specialist jobs, not entirely eliminate them – at least for the time being.

In an interview with CIO, IPSoft CEO and Founder Chetan Dube explained that, although the management of IT infrastructure and various engineering tasks will eventually be handled almost entirely by robotics, the advancements in AI and ML systems will also create better, more dynamic job opportunities for technology pros. They will be able to dedicate their focus and time on developing more creative strategies and innovative solutions for the organization, rather than the menial, day-to-day functions.

RAP, AI and ML innovations will give IT pros more, not less, employment opportunities.RAP, AI and ML innovations will give IT pros more, not less, employment opportunities.

Similar to how social media networks created a plethora of positions that didn't exist previously, the expansion of technological systems and applications will result in the need for a different, new set of jobs. It probably won't be long before IT experts find themselves applying to be a chief data intelligence officer, rather than a data scientist, or automation engineer rather than a systems engineer.

Dube also added that "[the] perceptions of artificial intelligence and automation must change from fear to acceptance."

This shouldn't be hard to do. And for some it hasn't been, given the array of benefits it offers for employees. A survey conducted by Spiceworks revealed what other IT pros are excited about when it comes to automation:

  • 88 percent of participants are looking forward to being able to focus on more important tech projects thanks to automation
  • 85 percent think it will enhance efficiency of their jobs
  • More than half agreed it will lead to both quicker problem solving and fewer errors

As the capabilities of AI evolve, so must the qualities of its data specialists and programmers. But to succeed in a corporate environment that relies on the collaboration between people and machines, IT pros must be willing to adapt.

Key qualities for getting hired 
It's probable that the IT job market in a few years will look wildly different than it does today. And it may be hard to see the long-term roadmap of your career right now. AI and automation will undoubtedly cause some changes in the traditional responsibilities of IT roles you're used to applying for. But, the good news is that these shifts will work in your favor.

"Though automation will cause IT job changes, they'll work in your favor."

You already know that your level of expertise is an essential factor hiring managers take into consideration during the recruitment process. However, it might be surprising to learn what other qualities business executives rank as being even more important in the performance of workers in an IT setting. According to the Technology Vision survey, corporate leaders prioritize an employee's ability to quickly learn, multitask and, again, a willingness to embrace change.

As machine learning becomes integrated into more organizations' operations, company leaders will start focusing on recruiting engineers and programmers that are not only capable of managing open-source frameworks to resolve IT-related issues, but those that can provide them with the strategic and forward-thinking strategic solutions that other tech pros haven't kept up with. 

Focus on well-being to retain health IT pros [Video]

The competition for recruiting top IT talent in the health care field is intensifying. Do you know how to attract these workers and, perhaps more importantly, make them happy?

Hi, and welcome to the APN video blog!

To create a corporate culture that attracts IT professionals, organizations must identify what needs workers have that other companies aren’t satisfying. 

According to Gallup, 44 percent of employees indicated they would leave their current job for a salary raise of about 20 percent. But money is not the only important factor that IT pros might consider when looking for a new role. Gallup also said that social relationships, community, purpose and physical health contribute to the well-being of health care workers.

Therefore, to increase levels of engagement and job satisfaction of IT pros, employers should addresses some of these issues during interviews. This can be done by outlining volunteer opportunities, workplace wellness programs or after-work events that your organization can offer.

That’s all for today. For more IT hiring tips, stick with APN!

According to Red Hat, 89 percent of businesses have a strategy for mobile app development and 95 percent plan to increase their investments in this area.

As the competitiveness of the market intensifies, so will employers selectiveness in IT recruiting. Companies can't afford mediocre hires. They need experts with capabilities that extend far beyond basic coding and programming. To meet these high standards and demonstrate yourself as an ideal candidate, you must understand how to best position yourself as a modern mobile app developer.

What does the enterprise value?
One of the best ways to convince a company they need to hire you is by proving you understand both what their customers need and how to give it to them. 

"Mobile devs must inquire about a company's goals to demonstrate eagerness."

For example, although Red Hat found that the majority of businesses prefer opensource software, there are other platform technologies and frameworks gaining popularity, such as Mobile Backend-as-a-Service. Are you familiar with MBaaS? If not, you're not alone; one in five IT decision-makers are unaware of this tool used in mobile app development. Being able to express knowledge in these areas will help you during the hiring process.

Modern developers understand the importance of knowing not only how an application is going to be used, but who it is going to be used by. You may not have access to all this information while applying, but inquiring about it during the interview, at the very least, can help demonstrate genuine interest.

It's safe to assume that just about any enterprise wants mobile apps that are highly functional and aesthetically appealing. But also consider what else they will want in a custom platform. For example, cybersecurity is becoming a major concern of companies. To minimize the risks of the financial and reputational damage often associated with data hacks and breaches, many hiring managers are paying closer attention to an IT pro's information security skills.

Tips for job seeking developers
The Red Hat report indicated that as mobile apps continue to mature, businesses are going to start taking more of an integrative and collaborative approach to their development. What does this mean for you? You must possess a dynamic range of skills that incorporate everything from marketing experience to design skills. Below are some key qualities that you should include on your resume for employment as a mobile app developer.

Mobile application development requires a particular skill set.Mobile app development requires a broad range of skills.
  • User-interface design and cross-platform skills: It is imperative that apps are user-friendly in all respects. Apps must look good, feel good and perform well, and that means that you need to be able to prove that you have a keen eye for UI. It is highly recommended that you bring in any mobile app projects you've been working on in order to demonstrate that you've got the UI design skills it takes.
  • Node.js: JavaScript-based frameworks are frequently used for mobile app development, but some companies are beginning to explore alternatives and transition toward more lightweight languages. For example, according to Red Hat, Node.js has been adopted by major corporations such as PayPal and Wal-Mart because it offers more flexibility and faster response.
  • DevOps: As more companies adopt continuous quality mobile dev strategies – this means frequently updating apps – you must be able to convey that you can work in a fast-paced cooperative work environment.

The market of mobile application development is rapidly evolving, with no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Over the next four years, the app economy is expected to double in size, placing it at a value of $101 billion by 2020, market research company App Annie recently reported. As a developer, this is great news for you. But it also highlights the importance of consistently adding skills to your resume and making sure you continually keep your finger on the pulse of the market. Doing so will significantly improve your chances of being hired at a top company.

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