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'A job seeker market': Employers offer incentives in competitive hiring landscape

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MADISON, Wis. – All of the help wanted signs are a sign of the times.

“I think what it means is we’re all in this together,” said Ross McDuffie, a vice president with Capital Newspapers, which operates Madison.com and the Wisconsin State Journal. “Everyone’s facing the same challenges.”

McDuffie said their business development team talks to hundreds of customers and clients a day.

“The one consistent thing we’re all hearing across the board is the acute need for talent and for employees,” he said. “We know that’s nationwide. It’s certainly no exception here in Dane County.”

About 80 employers set up shop at Madison Marriott West for the South Central Wisconsin Job Fair hosted by Madison.com and the Wisconsin State Journal Tuesday. Recruiters offered all types of work.

“I think it’s really representative of the universal challenge that everyone is facing,” McDuffie said. “There aren’t just white collar jobs here or just blue collar jobs. There’s a little bit of everything.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in July, the number of jobs available in the country climbed to 10.9 million, setting a new record high. The fields with the most openings include health care, social assistance, finance and the service industry.

Depending on one’s perspective, there are also signs of opportunity.

“For the job seeker, there’s a lot to choose from, and people are being really selective,” said Jenna Stoltz, a recruiter at the job fair with Exact Sciences. “They want to align their next career path with a job that gives opportunities for growth.”

“We have representatives here from companies that are offering signing bonuses, or flexible hours, work from home or work from the office depending on what someone’s looking for,” McDuffie said. “It’s definitely a job seeker market and I think that’s the real advantage for anyone looking for a new career right now.”

Some employers such as Stoughton Trailers are upping the pay. Effective Tuesday, the semi-truck trailer supplier increased entry-level hourly pay by $2, bringing assemblers up to $18 an hour and painters up to $20.25. Starting pay for welders was also recently increased to $20 an hour following another wage increase in November of 2020.

“Like many U.S. manufacturers, Stoughton Trailers faces challenges in filling open positions due to a national labor shortage,” Stoughton Trailers said in a press release. “The company began a big push to hire 300 workers last year in response to a near-record number of trailer orders in the fourth quarter.”

“To keep up with demand, we need to continue hiring at a brisk pace,” Chief Human Resources Officer John Walsh said . “Stoughton is a rewarding place to work, and we provide numerous opportunities for advancement so team members can have a long, fulfilling career with us.”

More information on the company’s career opportunities in Brodhead, Evansville and Stoughton can be found here.

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