With only three months left to go in 2015, employment and hiring trends in the Greater Baltimore region have taken shape. While the most recent jobs report from the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Registration showed that the state lost a sizeable chunk of private sector jobs, the overall rate of unemployment fell by approximately 0.6% from the same time last year.

On the local front, many companies with global reach are not as busy this year as they were last year with regards to hiring. Business units in the U.S. are performing well overall, but indicators suggest that global business units are not hitting their numbers, specifically in the European and Asian markets. This trend has hindered local hiring as these companies are using the U.S. business to prop up their international business units. Many are hopeful that this practice will shift before year’s end.

Local businesses whose customers are primarily based in the U.S. are booming, however, with both hiring and expansion on the rise. There have been upticks in the procurement of engineers, skilled labor and management positions in general. In construction, for example, there’s been an increased need for supervisors and high-level project managers across the board.

Millennials Moving In

In general, there have been some interesting patterns with regards to people and practices in the job market. Millennials, for instance, are not only entering the workforce in greater numbers, but they are now occupying many leadership positions. Recent research from Ernst & Young showed that more than half of today’s managers are millennials, with almost 20% operating on a senior level. A second study by CareerBuilder showed that nearly 40% of the workforce is already managed by millennials.

Another observation is that women are continuing to secure more high-level, executive positions. As we enter an election year, there undoubtedly will be discussions about women in the workplace, wage gaps and the like. As more millennials clinch positions in the workplace, many believe that the wage gap will minimize.

Reports indicate that millennial women now earn 93 cents for every dollar earned by men. As well, many of the top companies in the area and the U.S. have women in management and leadership positions.

Social Media Priority

When it comes to attracting and retaining talent, there’s an ever-increasing use of social media and social content. In order to appear as a desirable place to work, companies are and should be generating posts and content related to company culture and leveraging their employees’ social networks to spread the word.

It’s been shown that people are more likely to want to work at a company with a strong social media presence — particularly millennials, who’ve been using social media for most of their lives.

Additionally, companies are now leveraging social media in order to find and vet talent. Those people with active social media profiles, especially on professional channels like LinkedIn, tend to get noticed over those who do not.

For job seekers, it’s important to remember to keep their profiles clear of inappropriate content, details that are too personal and/or negative comments about current or previous employers.

Freelancers Are an Option

While these patterns relate to full-time employees, it’s worth noting that freelancers make up a large portion of the local and U.S. workforces. Freelancers should not be overlooked as a viable solution for filling talent shortages.

With freelancers, it’s important to be flexible with the work environment and contract perimeters. But freelancers can be some of the most effective “employees.” Companies should definitely develop and agree upon guidelines and how freelancers will be managed from the outset of the engagement.

U.S. Market Currently Prevails

Even as the job market shows glimmers of improvement, the chasm between worker skills and company needs remains wide. Basically, those who have skills and a job are at an advantage, and for them job market prospects are good. The most difficult jobs to fill are those that don’t require a college degree — factory laborers, truck drivers and even sales managers. Employers simply cannot find enough qualified workers to fill these types of positions.

People who are in the market for a new job would be best served targeting companies that have a higher potential for growth in the U.S. versus international. For companies searching for talent, targeting mid-sized global companies for their talent may be a worthwhile strategy.

Many employees at these companies are not getting year-end bonuses or salary increases as a result of a downturn in the European and Asian markets. As a result, these people are more than likely to be attracted to and seek employment opportunities with a healthy, U.S.-focused company.

Trevor Simm is the founder and president of Talos Solutions, a Millersville-based technical/scientific staffing firm. He can be reached at [email protected] or at 410-729-1100.