by John Seelmeyer

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June 16, 2014
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Employers feel the start of labor pain

CustomInk LLC has been growing its northern Nevada operation so quickly that Lauren Koelemay sometimes worries that the developer of custom-made T-shirts is draining the pool of potential employees.

Koelemay, the site director of CustomInk’s operations in Reno and Sparks, isn’t alone in her worries.

As the unemployment rate drops rapidly in northern Nevada, employers find that recruitment of some categories of workers is becoming more challenging, and they’re getting more creative in their efforts to woo top talent.

The jobless rate in the Reno-Sparks area stood at 7 percent in April. That means that 6,000 more people are at work in the region today than a year ago, says the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.

More critically for employers looking for workers, the state estimates that the number of jobless people in Washoe and Storey counties stands at 15,600 — a 29 percent decline in the number of potential local applicants in 12 months.

In Carson City, the pool of workers looking for employment stands at 2,100. That means the pool of potential employees has fallen by 25 percent in the Capitol region since the spring of 2013.

CustomInk has done its share of reducing the pool of jobless workers.

The company headquartered in northern Virginia launched its West Coast operation in Sparks with 30 people in 2012. Now, it employs 375 in the region and opened a second office this spring in South Meadows.

“It’s been amazing that we have found so many great people,” says Koelemay.

As its staff works with Internet customers to create T-shirts for events such as family reunions and graduations, good people skills and high energy are critical, Koelemay says.

It’s been more challenging, she says, to find people with those skills who also can write well and communicate with customers via e-mail.

But CustomInk recruits through a variety of pipelines — looking for new graduates as well as folks making a mid-career switch — and it’s been able to fill its openings even as the labor market tightens.

The tightening labor market shows up in all sorts of positions.

The Microsoft Corp. office in Reno, for instance, finds difficulties in recruiting for high-skill positions such as revenue recognition managers, sales tax managers, Lean Six Sigma (Black Belt) program managers, and folks with cloud commerce skillsets that involve transacting over the web or software as a service.

Greg Ferro, staffing lead at the Microsoft office, says the company faces specific challenges because it’s typically recruiting mid- to senior-level managers with experience in large technology companies.

“Over the past year, we have hosted several targeted hiring and networking events in the region and in markets across the country to attract hard-to-find talent,” says Ferro. “We also use LinkedIn heavily to source unique skillsets which has been very effective in filling many high-demand positions.”

Circus Circus Hotel and Casino, meanwhile, finds that food and beverage workers are in particular demand, and it’s placing increase attention on recruitment of top-notch culinary workers for its six restaurants.

Mary Hynes, director of public affairs for MGM Resorts International, the Las Vegas-based owner of Circus Circus, says the company uses a combination of traditional recruitment tools — competitive pay, good benefits, training programs and employee-recognition — to woo and retain staff.

Strong hiring trends statewide during the third quarter are likely to further tighten the supply of skilled workers.

ManpowerGroup, the worldwide staffing company, reported last week that a survey of Nevada employers found that 18 percent expect to increase employment from July through September. That’s roughly the same as the current hiring trend.

The hiring in Nevada is expected come across the board, including construction, manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade and tourism.

Only the transportation and utilities sector expects to hiring in Nevada to slow during the third quarter, the Manpower survey found.

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The Record Courier Updated Jul 4, 2014 05:59PM Published Jun 20, 2014 09:16AM Copyright 2014 The Record Courier. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.