Sales Jobs Are Proving Hard to Fill

The pay is good, but some say the positions carry a stigma.

Good morning!

Here are today’s highlights:

  • Lumber prices are down but new house prices may stay up.

  • In Florida, a cruise line sues for the right to demand proof of vaccination.

  • And fears grow that there is a bubble in startup funding.

HUMAN RESOURCES

Despite high pay, sales jobs are proving hard to fill: “Demand for sales roles has shot up as companies emerging from the pandemic switch to growth mode, but recruiters say they struggle to convince people to make sales a career. ZipRecruiter, an online job platform, shows the number of sales roles advertised has risen steadily this year, up 65 percent to more than 700,000 open positions around the U.S., after big layoffs decimated the field at the outset of the pandemic a year ago. The struggle to find sales hires predates the pandemic and may have more to do with the types of roles people are comfortable taking these days than it does with a shortage of workers.”

  • “Sales representatives who sell technical and scientific products and services to businesses earned a median annual wage of $108,830 in 2020, according to the U.S. Labor Department.”

  • “Mark Cope, the senior vice president of sales and customer experience at CentralReach, a company with offices in New Jersey and Florida that sells electronic health-record and other management software, says his firm will expand its sales team by more than 30 percent this year.”

  • “When interviewing, he asks job candidates to describe the last thing they taught themselves as a way to discern whether the person is likely to stick with a new concept until they master it.” READ MORE

Hospitality workers are finding better pay, perks, and prospects in other fields: “Like many servers and bartenders around the country, Ashley Roshitsh, 32 years old, used to love her job—until the pandemic. She had worked in hospitality since she was 14, eventually bartending at a craft cocktail bar in Birmingham, Ala. But after being furloughed in March 2020, she took stock of the toll that the long hours and late nights had taken on her. ‘Why do I have arthritis? Years and years of bartending will do that to you,’ she says. In August, she took a customer-service job with Birmingham-based grocery-delivery service Shipt Inc. and says she doesn’t plan on returning to the bar business. ‘It feels like someone has shaken you awake,’ she says of the career switch.”

  • “After Covid-19 forced restaurants, hotels and bars to shut last year, thousands of workers didn’t just get pushed to the employment sidelines.”

  • “Many, like Ms. Roshitsh, moved onto new careers in digital sales, shipping, mortgage-financing and other businesses that thrived in the pandemic, in what some economists say could mark a lasting shift in the labor market for hospitality staff.” READ MORE

Companies are offering employees early access to their money: “On-demand pay services give workers the option of accessing part of their paycheck if they need it before their regular payday—but sometimes at a cost. Some apps and services charge fees per use, while some others are subscription-based. Typically, the money can be loaded onto a debit card or into a bank account. ‘The pandemic has accelerated many existing economic trends and the demand from employees for these financial tools is certainly among them,’ said Luke Pardue, an economist at payroll and benefits firm Gusto. The company, which mainly works with small businesses, launched its pay-on-demand tool Cashout at the end of 2019. The feature gives workers early access to their pay based on accrued take home pay.”

  • “From March to May 2021, Pardue said the company has seen a ‘significant jump’ in the number of small businesses that offer Cashout to workers.”

  • “‘[Companies] have to be competitive and have to offer market-leading benefits and value proposition to employees they're recruiting,’ said Seth Ross, general manager of Dayforce Wallet,a program from human capital management software firm Ceridian that allows early access to pay.”

  • “‘It really shifted from this is something from an altruistic perspective that we need to do, to this is actually a strategic imperative where we have to offer these kinds of benefits or we won't be able to attract the talent we need,' he said.” READ MORE

FINANCE

Is there a bubble in startup funding? “Tech investors are writing bigger checks than ever. According to CB Insights, start-ups have raised $292.4 billion globally so far this year, on track to beat the $302.6 billion raised throughout 2020. The number of so-called ‘mega rounds’ — massive, $100 million-plus venture deals — has climbed to 751 in 2021 year-to-date, already beating the 665 mega rounds that were raised last year.”

  • “‘This feels a lot like 1999 to me,’ Hussein Kanji, a partner at U.K. venture capital firm Hoxton Ventures, told CNBC. ‘You had so much supply, so much enthusiasm.’” READ MORE

THE ECONOMY

Lumber prices are way down, but don’t expect houses to cost less: “After rising to shockingly expensive levels this spring, lumber prices have fallen so far that they are starting to look cheap to some buyers. Prices for two-by-fours surged in May to more than twice their previous record, set three years ago when there were about 15 percent fewer homes being built. But wood prices have since plunged back to levels resembling those before lockdowns cut supplies short and boosted demand.”

  • “Home builders say they expect to collect higher profit margins rather than drop asking prices.”

  • “An analyst recently asked KB Home Chief Executive Jeffrey Mezger on a conference call if the big home builder would share lumber savings with house hunters ...”

  • “‘It will depend on the competitive landscape in each city,’ Mr. Mezger said. ‘But our hope and expectation is we’ll take it to margin.’” READ MORE

The U.S. budget deficit narrowed during the first nine months of the fiscal year: “The U.S. budget deficit narrowed to $2.2 trillion during the first nine months of the fiscal year from the same period a year earlier, with the gap between spending and revenue shrinking as the recovery from the pandemic-induced slump boosted tax collections. Outlays for the first three quarters of the government’s budget year rose 6 percent, to $5.3 trillion, the Treasury Department said Tuesday. Spending has been boosted by pandemic-related costs that included tax credits, expanded unemployment compensation, emergency small-business loans and stimulus checks to households.”

  • “Relative to the size of the economy, this year’s deficit is projected to total 13.4 percent of gross domestic product, the CBO says, making it the second-largest since 1945 and exceeded only by last year’s 14.9 percent gap.” READ MORE

REOPENING

Norwegian Cruise Lines is suing in Florida over the state’s barring businesses from demanding proof of vaccination: “The cruise operator is sticking with its policy to require full vaccinations for all crew and passengers, including children, for initial sailings through Oct. 31 after more than a yearlong hiatus and billions of dollars in losses. That policy, if maintained in Florida, would result in the company being fined as much as $5,000 for each passenger affected, it said.”

  • “A spokeswoman for the Florida governor’s office said Norwegian’s stance discriminated against children and individuals who can’t be vaccinated  ...”

  • “‘Apparently Norwegian prefers the shackles of the CDC to the freedom offered by Florida,’ the spokeswoman said in a statement. ‘This administration will not tolerate such widespread discrimination.’”

  • “Royal Caribbean Group, Norwegian’s competitor, has shifted from requiring to recommending vaccinations to abide by the Florida law. But unvaccinated people would be subject to additional costs and restrictions, it said.”

  • “One of its lines is requiring unvaccinated guests 12 and older departing from Florida to buy travel insurance.” READ MORE

U.S. Covid case counts have doubled in recent weeks: “The uptick follows a significant slowdown in Covid-19 metrics after a deadly winter surge, when newly reported cases peaked at around 240,000 cases a day in mid-January, and it comes as public-health officials push to reinvigorate the nation’s vaccination campaign and get shots to undecided or isolated Americans. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly all recent Covid-19 cases and deaths from the disease are among unvaccinated people. Americans 65 and older, who are most likely to die from Covid-19 infections, have high rates of vaccinations.”

  • “In Missouri, the Delta variant has prompted a surge of new cases for weeks now. ‘I wish I could stand here today with more encouraging news, but the numbers are too startling to ignore,’ St. Louis County Executive Sam Page said Monday.”

  • “‘The tidal wave is coming towards our unvaccinated population,’ he said.” READ MORE

THE 21 HATS PODCAST

Episode 68: Does It Matter What You Name Your Business? When Dana White chose a name for her business, she decided she wanted a name that had meaning—both for her and for the women she hoped to reach. When Laura Zander picked a name for her business, she thought she was going to be selling coffee. And when Jay Goltz chose a name for his business, he very strategically chose the perfect name to rank well in—wait for it—the Yellow Pages. This week, Dana, Laura, and Jay talk about what they consider the most important decisions they made in building their businesses—including why Dana closed her most profitable location, why it took Laura 15 years to find an operations person, and what Jay figured out about employees who struggle to grow with the business.