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Online tool helps connect employers and job seekers

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Though there are currently thousands of job seekers and a wealth of job openings in the state, employers continue to have difficulty locating workers with the skill sets they need most.

To help businesses narrow down their resume search, the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development has launched an online tool through its Jobs4Jersey effort that “acts like a human resources service” for small businesses that “have neither the time nor the money to handle” skill-specific Web searches for workers, Labor Commissioner Harold J. Wirths said at a demonstration for business leaders at Public Service Enterprise Group’s Newark headquarters today.

Prem Jain, president of Spectrum Chemical & Laboratory Products Inc., said he is one of the 1,400 business owners who has already benefitted from the new OnRamp tool, as his company recently began using it to fill 15 new positions in New Jersey after moving its headquarters from California to New Brunswick.

“Before, we would get thousands of resumes and 10 to 15 walk-ins a day. None of the candidates were really qualified, but we had to compromise and hire them, because the amount of time you spend interviewing people to find out if they’re qualified is outrageous,” Jain said. “Now, we can find the people who are most qualified before the interview process, and any positions we lose in California, we add in New Jersey.”

Unlike other Internet job listing services, OnRamp’s services are free of charge and allow employers to conduct searches for potential employees by skills, instead of job titles.

Mary Ellen Clark, assistant commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, said more than 100,000 resumes have already been uploaded to the site, with an average of 3,000 resumes submitted a week that “range from truck driver to CEO.” To save employers time, the tool “spiders” job openings from companies’ websites, allows businesses to clone the resumes of their top employees and ranks potential hires based on how closely their skill sets match companies’ job descriptions.

“When we launched Jobs4Jersey last year, it really just collected resumes and jobs, and it didn’t help match job seekers with job providers,” Acting Gov. Kim Guadagno said at the demonstration. “This is bridging the gap … to connect 100,000 people looking for jobs with upwards of 258,000 positions. But we need to add to that number of jobs, because 258,000 people is not enough.”

Public Service Enterprise Group CEO Ralph Izzo said his company is currently looking to hire 111 employees in fields like engineering, law, project planning and information technology, and “our HR people … are eager to use (OnRamp) to the hilt” to fill the positions.

But Izzo noted the search tool will also “develop a pipeline of diverse, skilled talent” for future job openings.

“While we’re busy filling current positions, the need to plan for our future work force is important now and over the long term,” Izzo said. “We cannot afford to miss out on anyone with the right combination of skills we need for our work force.”

New Jersey Business & Industry Association assistant vice president Stefanie Riehl said the OnRamp tool will “make the hiring process much easier” for businesses constantly flooded with employment applications that don’t match their job descriptions.

“Gone are the days when you posted a job in a newspaper and received 25 applications. Now, you have to sort through thousands of resumes to fill one position,” Riehl said. “With businesses already working to streamline and cut costs, Jobs4Jersey is just what the HR manager ordered.”

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