Entries from the Job Hunter's Journal


How Is The Plastic Industry Job Market?

“How is the Plastic Industry Job Market?” remains the primary question I am asked by candidates looking for positions in the Plastics Industry.

In my role as a Third Party Recruiter (Headhunter) to the Plastics Industry, I have been talking to many plastic manufacturing companies about their current hiring plans.  The good news is that most of the companies report they are hiring, and in addition, many of them are hiring sales people.  The hiring of plastic sales people, especially resin sales people, is viewed as a very strong indicator because, from our experience, companies hire sales people when the market is on an upward swing and, strangely enough, companies downsize sales people when the plastics market is going south.

Overall, I believe the plastic industry job market is going to continue to grow in 2017 but probably at a slightly reduced rate from 2015 and 2016, so if you are looking at a great job offer this year, you might want to take it.

Is It a Good Time to Embark on a Plastics Career?

Our company was asked to provide input on a couple of questions by one of the Editors of a well known plastics magazine because he is going to interviewed at the 2009 NPE Show. Since, I don’t really expect our answers to the questions to be published, I thought I would share them with the readers of this blog.

a) Is it a good time to embark on a plastics career? and

b)What are the areas of job growth in the plastics industry?

One of the best reasons to embark on a plastics career is that plastics will continue playing a large role in our lives. Existing uses of plastics will continue to expand as companies seek to extend product reliability, reduce component weight, and improve energy efficiency. Meanwhile, new use for plastics will grow as emerging technologies, such as nanomaterials and biopolymers, create new applications for plastic materials.

Unfortunately for United States manufacturers, domestic labor costs and the recent economic downturn have driven much of the traditional plastics business overseas. As a result, many plastic manufacturing and molding companies have been forced to cut their staffs in recent years. Nonetheless, job growth in the United States based plastics industry will eventually rebound as novel uses of plastics materials and innovative approaches to plastic processing are developed. Economic growth will follow as designers find new ways to utilize the ever-increasing capabilities of plastics into everyday products.

When plastic manufacturing picks up, even modestly, companies will once again add technical and management personnel. However, they will be looking for employees who are familiar with recent developments in plastics manufacturing. In an effort to stay small and nimble, plastics companies will seek out individuals who can wear a great many hats and feel very comfortable doing so. They will need people who can work closely with customers, possibly working on the customer’s factory floor to develop new products and manufacturing methods. By embarking on a plastics career now, you will be ready when the economy turns around. This pattern has repeated itself in the past, and there is no reason to believe that it won’t happen again.

A plastics engineer must have strong expertise in equipment operation and die design, and must possess a strong knowledge of plastic materials. There is less time available for individuals to develop technical expertise through on-the-job-training, so attending a college or university with recognized technical training in plastics is more important than ever.

Highly creative thinkers are needed who can take two or more seemingly unrelated ideas and blend them into a new product or process. Perhaps you can envision a disposable scalpel that fits comfortably in a surgeon’s hand and is still inexpensive enough to be thrown away after use. How about an automobile hood that reduces vehicle weight while acting as a solar panel?

The point is that the plastics industry needs new product ideas and manufacturing methods more than ever.

In spite of the current slowdown in manufacturing, this is definitely a good time to embark on a plastics career. Many of the people downsized in the plastics industry over recent years will not be returning. They will have changed careers or retired. Some will have started new plastics businesses, thus creating more openings. The plastics industry is constantly growing and changing, thus providing challenges that you may find quite rewarding. Now is the time to prepare for the next wave of advances in plastics manufacturing.

An Answer to “How is the Job Market”

As bad as the economy is at the moment, there must be more to life than toys, travel, newer cars, and larger homes.  As Viktor Frankl, who wrote, Man’s Search For Meaning, stated a half a century ago,

People have enough to live, but nothing to live for, they have the means but not meaning.

I know this may not mean much to many people who are out of work and watching their retirement savings dwindling but most of us will make it through this economic crisis and many of us will be the better for it.   As Fredrich Nietzche once said,

That which does not kill us makes us stronger

As a third party recruiter working in the plastics industry, I know it is very difficult, if not nearly impossible, for individuals that are out of work find employment but I believe there will be improvement in job market fairly soon.  Even though there are few companies hiring now, I still come to work every morning and work at least 8 hours because when the job market opens up, I believe there will be many opportunities. 

As that famous philosopher, Bill Clinton once stated, “I feel your pain”.  I continue to talk with, and add candidates to my data base because I want to be in a position to help as many people as I can when the job market improves.  Hang in there just a little longer.   Keep sending out those resumes, network with everyone you can, and keep returning recruiter telephone calls.

Searching for a Job???

I just read an article by the self proclaimed largest Job Search Board, providing ten reasons a job seeker may not be able to find a job.  I totally agree with the first reason, which was, the job seeker may not be networking enough.  The other nine reasons dealt primarily with not utilizing the aforementioned job board properly.  Since using job boards to find jobs, is not regarded as one of the top job search methods, I am going to discuss networking further.

Networking with established contacts is, without a doubt, one of the best ways to find a job.  I was at a church service one Sunday, a few years ago, and overheard one church member tell another he had lost his job.  The other church member said he could use someone like him in his business and hired him the following week.  Serendipity rarely happens to this extent but if an individual is out of work and does not let anyone know it will never happen.  For the most part, people do want to help other people as long as they are not put on the spot. 

No mention was made in the job board article on finding a job about using social networks such as LinkedIn.  According to the author of LinkedIn for DUMMIES, Joel Elad, “Currently 130,000 recruiters are members of LinkedIn, constantly using the search functions to go through the database and find skilled members that match their job search requirements”.  He goes on to say, “Instead of companies paying big money for resume books, they now have tens of millions of qualified professionals, each of which has a detailed profile with skills, experience and recommendations already available”.   LinkedIn is an obvious social networking choice for Professionals seeking work because it is targeted to Professionals, but other social networks such as Facebook, MySpace, etc. are being used by recruiters to find candidates.  Some recruiters are even trying to use Twitter to find candidates but the jury is still out on how effective a tool Twitter will be for recruiters.

Since I am a Third Party Recruiter (Headhunter), I would be remiss if I did not recommend networking with Third Party Recruiters.  Very often Third Party Recruiters have access to positions that are not posted on Job Boards, Company Web Sites, or Newspapers because Human Resource Recruiters know that they would be so inundated with resumes that they would be overwhelmed.  Networking with headhunters involves more than sending a resume to a third party recruiter and then disappearing.  Networking with a third party recruiter should at least include answering the telephone when recuiters call.  Recruiter networking should also include follow up every few weeks.  Not including headhunters in the job search process will result in the loss of a valuable resource.   I recommend using third party recruiters that specialize placing job seekers in the industry or services area where the job seeker wants to work.  If a definite geographic location is desired, working with recruiters who recruit for a specific region is also a good idea.

There are many job seeking tools available and they all should be used in this very tough market but networking should not be overlooked, or under utilized, in favor of easier job search methods, such as, placing a resume on a Job Board and waiting by the telephone for the job offers to roll in.

Headhunters, Friend or Foe???

I am a Third Party Technical Recruiter who likes to feel that I am a friend of any job seeker who asks for my help to find them a new position, or responds to my postings at various job posting sites on the … Continued

How is the Job Market???

How is the job market?, or some form of that question is the most common question I am asked when talking to people looking for work in the plastics industry.  The following information form the Federal Government might provide an … Continued

The Future of Plastics Sales? – NO MORE WILLY LOMANS

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Plastics as a Career?

One of the most famous lines in modern movies (The Graduate) is when Mr. Robinson takes Dustin Hoffman aside at his college graduation party and offers him some career advice, which was one word, “PLASTICS“.  Unfortunately, Dustin Hoffman’s character spent the summer having … Continued