Interview with Mary Ellen Carter owner of Express Employment Professional

EEDC: What do you see as far as the demand for the workforce on the Mid-Shore?

Mary Ellen Carter: So, for Mid-Shore businesses, we see a consistent workflow, particularly in the manufacturing sector. Maybe even an uptick for those who are working on anything PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) related or food manufacturing.

EEDC: And there are sufficient numbers of seekers, I’m assuming?

Mary Ellen Carter: Not as many as we’d like to see right now. That’s going to contradict the numbers for unemployment.  I think one of the most significant issues is that some of our jobs are at the entry-level of manufacturing or production warehousing. And so, some of the people who are on unemployment aren’t necessarily going to want to take an entry-level position. But we certainly are struggling to find people for those jobs.

EEDC: What are the barriers to these job seekers?

Mary Ellen Carter: For entry-level jobs, we find that transportation or an inability to pass a background check are the two largest factors.

EEDC: What advice are you giving employers on attracting talent? 

Mary Ellen Carter: We try to encourage our clients to take a look at their policies in terms of background requirements. You can have someone who may have committed a very minor offense several years ago that still would be worthy of a position in manufacturing who would be appreciative of the opportunity. They might end up being one of your best employees, as opposed to someone who is continually looking for something better.

We often find that once we’re able to place individuals into jobs for which they are grateful, they have a higher likelihood of staying and progressing within the company.

EEDC: What can employees do to make themselves more employable?

Mary Ellen Carter: Like we’re asking clients to be flexible, we’re also asking our candidates to be flexible. Just because something doesn’t fit into your idea of the perfect position doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t go for the interview and talk through it and see if it’s something that you might be interested in. There are often so many interesting things that you can do just by getting your foot in the door. That’s such a cliché, but it truly is real, particularly on the Eastern Shore, where we don’t have thousands of companies to choose from. So, you want to take your skills and market them to clients that you might not ever even knew existed. And you might find that you have discovered a great company or a great home and be able to flourish in a career outside of what you have thought initially.

So, it works both ways for clients and candidates. A client might not have ever looked at a candidate if they had just received them on their own. And vice versa, a candidate might not have ever looked for a job at a particular client because they just never had an interest. But if we’re able to match those pieces for them, then I think it can be a beneficial opportunity for both.

EEDC: Are people changing careers?

Mary Ellen Carter: No.  At my company, we handle everything from poultry production to CFOs and everything in between. So, we often have to be creative to find the talent that’s necessary to fill the job with an outstanding candidate. And we especially see that on the Eastern Shore because we have a ton of talented people that move here from various places with previous professions. They move here, and they’re not able to find whatever it was they were doing in a larger metropolitan area. We have to help them be creative, think creatively, and apply their skills in the places that are needed.

EEDC: Curious. How many jobs do you have open?

Mary Ellen Carter:  At the moment, we have 130 openings throughout the Eastern Shore that we’re trying to fill.

EEDC: Do you see any trends in the workforce of Easton in particular?

Mary Ellen Carter: Our pharmaceutical companies here in Easton are really booming, and that’s exciting. There are also tremendous opportunities in various manufacturing sectors. And then, of course, the same thing that everybody has been saying, the skilled trades.

The skilled trades are a profession that we are struggling to backfill, as people retire out of those positions or out of those professions.  We really need to find entry-level, skilled trade professionals to get trained by those who are retiring out of the workforce. Because if they’re able to spend some time with those people, it’s an invaluable experience for the candidate, the client, and the company.

Even though we don’t do a lot in healthcare, we see that healthcare is struggling here because of COVID. They’ve had to put themselves in a position to respond to what whatever was needed for COVID. So, all of the other services suffered. It’ll be an interesting and challenging rebound, I think, for the healthcare industry. But, with the aging population here, it’s going to happen sooner than a lot of other areas.

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