Robert Half Report: Third-Quarter Hiring Plans

Jun 5th 2012
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By Terri Eyden

Nearly nine in ten (88 percent) executives surveyed for the quarterly Robert Half Professional Employment Report said they anticipate no changes to the size of their teams in the next three months. Five percent of respondents plan to add full-time, professional-level staff in the third quarter, while another 5 percent indicated they will make personnel reductions. 

Recruiting challenges continue to surface for executives ‒ 69 percent of those interviewed said they are having difficulty finding people with the skills they need, up eight points from the second-quarter survey.

The report is based on telephone interviews with more than 4,000 US-based C-level executives and other senior managers in a variety of fields who were asked about their hiring plans and general level of optimism for the upcoming quarter. Survey respondents include more than 1,400 chief financial officers (CFOs); 1,400 chief information officers (CIOs); 500 senior human resources managers; 100 lawyers at law firms and 100 corporate lawyers; and 125 advertising executives and 375 marketing executives, all of whom have hiring authority. The Robert Half Professional Employment Report is the first quarterly executive survey of its size and scope to concentrate exclusively on professional-level hiring.

Key Findings

  • Eighty-eight percent of executives expect to make no changes to the size of their full-time, professional-level teams. Five percent of executives anticipate bringing in additional staff in the third quarter, and 5 percent project personnel reductions. The resulting net hiring increase is down two points from last quarter's survey.
  • Sixty-nine percent of executives reported recruiting challenges, up eight points from the previous quarter.
  • More than three-quarters (79 percent) of executives expressed confidence in the growth prospects for their firms in the next three months.
  • Businesses in the Mid-Atlantic states anticipate hiring most actively, with a net 6 percent of executives in the region planning to add professional-level staff.
  • Respondents in the transportation sector are most likely to make personnel additions in the third quarter; a net 6 percent said they anticipate hiring. The transportation industry has led in hiring projections for three consecutive quarters.
  • The legal field is expected to see the strongest hiring activity, with a net 30 percent of lawyers planning to increase staff levels in the third quarter. Advertising and marketing executives also are expanding their teams, with a net 11 percent anticipating adding personnel.
Hiring Expectations: By Profession
  Increase Decrease Net Increase/
 Total 5%  5%  0% 
 Accounting and finance 3%  4%  -1% 
 Advertising and marketing 15%  4%  11% 
 Human resources 6%  1%  5% 
 Information technology (IT) 5%  4%  1% 
 Legal 32%  2%  30% 
 Sales and business development 6%  9%  -3% 
Executives Reporting Recruiting Challenges: All Professions
Quarter Executives Facing Recruiting Challenges
 3Q12 69% 
 2Q12 61% 
 1Q12 67% 
 4Q11 59% 
 3Q11 42% 

"One factor affecting hiring activity is a shortage of specialized talent ‒ especially in technology and finance", said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International. "While general unemployment remains high, unemployment for key positions in these fields is low, leading to recruiting challenges for many firms."

Brett Good, a senior district president with Robert Half, added",To locate specialized skills quickly and keep workloads manageable, many firms are engaging temporary or project professionals. The flexibility of variable-cost labor provides an advantage to companies that seek greater control over their human resources budgets and appreciate having access to skilled talent when and for as long as they need it."

Professional-Level Hiring ‒ By Region

Survey respondents in the Mid-Atlantic states expect the most active hiring in the third quarter, with a net 6 percent of executives planning to add staff. "Much of the job growth in the Mid-Atlantic region is concentrated in the retail, health care, pharmaceutical, and financial services sectors", Messmer said. "Senior accountants, financial analysts, and business systems analysts are in particular demand. Companies also are seeking to fill positions in business intelligence, web and mobile development, and network security."

Professional-Level Hiring ‒ By Industry

Third-quarter professional-level hiring is anticipated to be strongest in the transportation industry, where a net 6 percent of respondents said they expect to make staff additions. The transportation industry has led in hiring projections for three consecutive quarters. This was followed by a net 5 percent of executives in both the manufacturing and the finance, insurance, and real estate sectors who indicated they will increase personnel during the upcoming quarter.

Professional-Level Hiring ‒ By Field

The legal profession again topped the survey in anticipated hiring, with a net 30 percent of lawyers planning to add staff. A net 11 percent of executives in the advertising and marketing fields indicated they will hire during the third quarter. The IT and accounting and finance fields reported the greatest difficulty finding skilled professionals, as cited by 70 percent and 69 percent of executives, respectively.

Source: May 31, 2012, PRNewswire


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