Working Digest

WORKING DIGEST

May 10, 2006

Job search

Starting pay, benefits rising

Job-search times are shortening, while starting salaries and other benefits are on the rise, according to a prominent outsourcing-and-research company. The average job search this year is taking less than three months, compared with four months in the fall of 2004, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas. "The labor market is starting to look more and more like the one we experienced in the late 1990s," said CEO John Challenger. "Companies are undoubtedly reluctant to increase their costs, but it has become necessary to boost salaries and special benefits in order to attract and retain the top talent." A Challenger survey of 100 human-resources executives nationwide found that half have increased salaries and benefit offerings. The same survey reported that two-thirds of the executives said they were having increased difficulty finding and retaining qualified workers.

Mother's Day

Firms predict gifts of $25 to $75

She endured labor for you, so how might you repay Mom? Some small businesses think you'll spend at least $25 on her this Mother's Day, according to a survey. More than half of the small businesses surveyed expect customers to spend between $25 and $75 on Mother's Day gifts, with another 30 percent predicting that consumers will shell out more than $75 for Mom. To capture that money, most small businesses plan to promote their Mother's Day offerings online. More than 80 percent intend to use e-mail pitches, while 42 percent will try Web advertising. Most businesses expect flowers to be the most popular gift choice this Sunday, followed by spa or salon services and then jewelry. Mixed-flower bouquets have been the favored flower choice in recent years, making up 80 percent of all florist purchases. Surprisingly, 20 percent of mothers will buy their own presents or make reservations for their special day, while only 8 percent of their sons will make gift purchases or arrangements. Husbands and daughters handle the other 72 percent. The 2006 Mother's Day Outlook survey was conducted last month by Constant Contact. Nearly 500 small businesses, representing hospitality, consumer services and retail industries, responded to the survey.

First job

Look beyond pay, title, students told

It's the hiring season and corporate recruiters have been mining college campuses for the best and brightest. But if you're mulling various offers for a first job, or a summer position, it's wise to consider more than the title and compensation, advises Max Messmer, chairman of Accountemps, a temp staffing firm for accounting and finance professionals, and author of Managing Your Career For Dummies. Some issues to weigh:

Will I have a mentor? Will your direct supervisor be supportive of your professional growth? Will this person be your career coach?

Can I advance? Is there a clear career path for you in the company? Is there a history of promoting from within?

Are there learning opportunities?

Is the culture a fit? Will you be comfortable in the work environment? Is the atmosphere a good match for your personality?

"Education doesn't end with graduation," Messmer said. "The first position out of college should provide learning opportunities that will serve as building blocks for future career success."

From Orlando Sentinel and Associated Press reports

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