For the last two years, more than 13+ million U.S. workers have been unemployed, many for very long stretches.

Let that number – 13 million – sink in for a moment. That’s like saying the entire population of Illinois has been laid off.

The current national unemployment is hovering around 9%, but that varies bystate. A few years ago, such numbers and percentages were unthinkable.

What’s even more baffling is there are plenty of companies looking to hire, but finding the right candidate is harder then ever. And many markets are sendingmixed signalsas to whether there is truly a worker shortage or just a shortage of the right workers.

Here are few reasons hiring companies are struggling to filling openings:

*Uncertainty about a job’s longevity. Many companies are hiring only when the need has become desperate. Why hire someone who may be laid off in six months?

*Changing job skills/duties. This is no small consideration. Are managers supposed to hire for today or tomorrow? Tomorrow’s job requirements look a lotdifferentand candidates often are confused about their career aspirations.

*A swarm of job seekers. Managers may be afraid to post a job opening for fear of being overwhelmed by candidates, many of them well qualified. Who do you hire when so many candidates demonstrate experience, skill, and potential?

It doesn’t help that traditional pipelines for skilled trades and related design/construction/ maintenance are changing. Heck, even once dependable classifications like“votech”are undergoing overhauls.

And just as I was contemplating the jobs vs. candidates dilemma, our good friendDan Holohansent several links included here, including this littlegemsuggesting the value of a college education might be greatly diminishing.

Good golly, there has to be some type of targeted matchmaker service that can help pros find quality jobs and managers find quality employees.

There is.

BNP Media is pleased to announce a new partnership with BirdDog Jobs, a career center geared specifically to the design, construction, engineering, maintenance and mechanical systems markets.

During its 14-year history, BirdDog has helped more than 3,500 employers in specialized industries move to a strategy of planned hiring. In addition, the combined BirdDog family of sites and solutions has attracted more than 100,000 job seekers.

Tailored to business owners and hiring managers searching for uniquely qualified tradesmen, the industry-specific career center will be powered by BirdDog’s Candidate Acquisition & Management System (CAMS).

A web-enabled recruitment program customized for cleaning, restoration, construction, mechanical and engineering companies, CAMS allows employers to post an open position once. CAMS then distributes the opening across the BirdDog family of niche job sites.

Beyond posting jobs, CAMS helps hiring managers score, track and maintain a database of applicants. This not only helps fill current vacancies; it supports BirdDog’s philosophy of “always on recruiting,” which encourages companies to build a bench of qualified candidates for those emergency openings innate to the skilled trades.

BNP Media is pleased to partner with BirdDog in providing this solution to help find or fill a position, navigate the murky waters of hiring legalities, or to create an ongoing resource for career development.

Check out this new career center by clicking on the BirdDog Jobs poll question posted on the home page of this Web site, or by clickinghere.