As the country's third-most populous city, it's no surprise the Chicago has a bounty of employment opportunities that can benefit both companies and job seekers. But even considering its great size, the Windy City scores impressively high marks in nearly every employment sector. Along with an ideal location, world-famous culture and a variety of attractions, Chicago is an excellent city for prospective employees to take the next step in their careers and for organizations to connect with the right talent.
While some sectors are performing better than others, one thing the experts all agree on is this: Chicago is trending up. It would be a stretch to say hiring activity has reached pre-Recession levels, but in some cases, the market is as active as its been in years. At worst, employment is slowly and steadily gaining momentum.
"Experts agree: Chicago is trending up."
That environment also means it's a good time to be a Chicago recruiting agency. Staffing professionals from five sectors weighed in on the recent trends within their areas and provided insight on the hiring market in Illinois' largest city. In part 1 of this 2-part series, our own industry experts in Associates and Technologies staffing commented on the strength of their respective sectors.
Opportunities abound at the entry level and beyond
The beauty of departmental support positions lies in the range of industries available. The jobs are no longer just administrative - they can take the form of anything from office service to marketing coordinator and more. In a city as large and diverse as Chicago, there are ample opportunities for positions like these.
As Liz Pirrie, Associates Division Director at Beacon Hill Staffing's Chicago office, pointed out, "Every industry is growing intensely."
In general, these positions exist for entry level candidates ranging up to around eight years of experience. But that doesn't mean only young professionals need apply - applicants from all age groups can find work in the associates sector, especially those changing industries or moving from a different location.
"We see a lot of relocation to Chicago, from everywhere," Pirrie explained, "for two main reasons: either they want to move to the big city from smaller towns, or because they hear the people in Chicago are just so nice."
Whatever the reason, those who do end up seeking employment in Chicago can rest assured something will come their way. Contrary to popular belief, in some cases it helps to be an experienced professional changing industries, while in other cases it's advantageous to be a recent college grad with a few internships under the belt. That's because many organizations seek temp-to-perm hires, for which young people just entering the workforce are ideally suited.
That aside, Pirrie's number one piece of advice for both employers and job-seekers was to keep an open mind. Applicants must consider a variety of jobs and titles, while it's on employers to prioritize potential over experience.
Chicago's tech scene heats up
Across the U.S., information technology is a hot commodity. Historically, the tech hub was centered in San Francisco, California and Austin, Texas. But now the industry has spread across the country, and Chicago is poised to stake its claim as a national leader for IT.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel recently announced that 16 of the city's most promising tech organizations committed to hiring a total of 1,000 new employees through the end of 2015, according to Built In Chicago.
"The commitment by these companies speaks to Chicago's growing strength as a hub for the high-paying, high-skilled jobs of the 21st century and will help to ensure that residents in every neighborhood can participate in our growing tech economy," Mayor Emanuel said in a statement. "These companies see the educated workforce we have today ... to build a great tech workforce for tomorrow."
"Applicants should find the right match with a business on a cultural and personal level."
Brian Pelligrini, Beacon Hill Staffing's Regional Vice President for the Midwest, sees promise as well.
"There's no doubt in my mind Chicago will be the number one market in three years," Pelligrini asserted. "We're less than 2 percent unemployment right here as far as IT goes."
Pelligrini acknowledged it's a candidate's market, but was optimistic that companies can do more to shift the balance. It comes down to branding - placing more emphasis on their culture and selling their organization better. In many cases, these companies are quite similar to one another. The ones that can create a degree of separation will have an inside track to the top talent.
With that said, Chicago has a wide range of organizations with their own IT departments. Some huge organizations like Kraft will certainly attract talented workers, but there is a dense mid-sized section with plenty of room for growth. Those conditions also provide opportunities for IT workers or all different experience levels, ranging from PC technicians all the way up to developers and project managers.
When it comes to IT talent, the Windy City is an excellent place to seek employment. But only a few years ago, the recession made it difficult for anyone to find work across the country. Only recently is the job market beginning to approach those pre-recession levels. For that reason, Pelligrini recommends applicants find the right match with a business on a cultural and personal level, and invest time and energy in that partnership. Should another recession emerge, those relationships are going to help employees keep their jobs.
For now, America's third-largest city is attracting candidates from recent college grads to 10-year professionals, and for good reason. The city has the resources, attractions and opportunities to be a model of the job market on a national scale.
This content brought to you by the Marketing Team at Beacon Hill Staffing Group.