Many men and women returning from military duty after World War II faced a daunting challenge â€” getting a job in a competitive market.
In 1948, an employment agency called Manpower opened in Milwaukee to help good workers and businesses find each other.
Today there are 4,000 offices in more than 80 countries, from Argentina to Vietnam. The Louisville area has three offices, with additional locations in southern Indiana and Elizabethtown.
In 2010 alone, 3.5 million people around the world who registered with Manpower found jobs.
â€œIâ€™ve been in the staffing industry for 14 years, and with Manpower for the past three, and the changes Iâ€™ve seen have been huge,â€ said Rhonda Woody, branch manager in the office at 1221 Hurstbourne Parkway. â€œEmployers and people seeking jobs used to find each other through newspaper ads. Then online job posting became possible, and now thereâ€™s Facebook and Twitter. The job-search market continues to evolve quickly, and Manpower is changing with it to help employers and workers alike.â€
The parent corporation recently became ManpowerGroup, a name which reflects the fact that there are several divisions handling a wide range of tasks, from matching employers with new employees to providing consulting services and helping displaced workers make the transition to other worksites.
The core division remains Manpower, which focuses on temporary and temporary-to-permanent placement.
â€œTechnology has changed everything,â€ she said. â€œInstead of filling out paperwork in our office, people can apply online at manpowerjobs.com and create an account for themselves from home. They can look through our job boards to see what openings we have, and do assessments that evaluate their skills. Thatâ€™s especially nice for those who canâ€™t get away from their desks to go on a job search.â€
Associates can take advantage of more than 6,000 free courses through a training and development center, and even earn accreditation in certain fields.
Those resources also enable clients who hire associates to offer additional training and testing.
Rhonda pointed out that Manpower is one of the few agencies that offer healthcare to their temporary workforce; short-term disability coverage is also available.
â€œMore and more people are temping as their career, because it can give them flexibility with benefits,â€ she said. â€œSomeone who has just moved here can temp to get a sense of what companies are around, searching for a good fit without committing. Recent college graduates and stay-at-home moms who want additional income are temping, too.â€
Job-seekers often feel isolated when out of work, but they can receive reassuring support from advisors who â€œunlock doors and offer opportunities that otherwise wouldnâ€™t be provided, by giving them more feet on the ground, more eyes on the job,â€ she said. â€œIn this competitive job market, those extra edges can make all the difference.â€
ManpowerGroup itself tends to weather bad economic times well, because its diverse roster of clients ensures lots of eggs in many baskets: Although one industry may be lagging, requiring fewer hires, another may be on an upswing and need additional staff.
â€œThe staffing industry is among the first to spot a downturn in the economy, but also to see things pick back up,â€ she said. â€œRight now, businesses are cautiously optimistic. Theyâ€™re hopeful and testing the waters. Our research indicates that most are planning to do more hiring this year.â€
The world has had its Stone Age and its Industrial Age, but ManpowerGroup believes we are in the Human Age.
â€œThe economy has been making companies downsize to the point that one person may have to do the work of three,â€ Rhonda explained. â€œItâ€™s the talent your company has that will make the difference. Are your people the right fit? Will they drive your business forward? This is an interesting and challenging time for all of us.â€
For information about ManpowerGroup, visit www.manpower.com or contact any of the Louisville offices: 1221 Hurstbourne Pkwy., 502.426.2025; 455 S. Fourth Ave., 502.583.1674; or 161 Outer Loop, 502.363.7723.