Twelve percent of executives interviewed for the Robert Half Professional Employment Report say they are planning to hire professional-level staff in the fourth quarter of 2011, while 5 percent foresee making cutbacks. The resulting net 7 percent increase in hiring activity is up four points from the third-quarter forecast. The portion (82 percent) of hiring executives saying they anticipate no change in staff levels is down from 90 percent three months ago.
Meanwhile, 59 percent of executives interviewed for the report(1) said it is challenging to find skilled professionals today, up 17 points from the third quarter.
Fourth-quarter hiring projections were higher than the third-quarter forecast in nearly all professional segments.
The Robert Half Professional Employment Report is based on telephone interviews with more than 4,000 C-level executives and other leaders from a variety of fields throughout the United States, who are 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.
- A net 7 percent of executives plan to add professional-level staff in the fourth quarter of 2011.
- Fifty-nine percent of survey respondents reported encountering recruiting challenges, up 17 points from the third quarter.
- The legal and marketing fields are expected to see the strongest hiring activity, with a net 24 percent of lawyers and a net 20 percent of marketing and advertising executives planning to increase staff levels.
- Businesses in the East North Central(2) states project the most active hiring, with a net 13 percent of executives planning to add professional-level staff in the fourth quarter.
- A net 12 percent of executives in the finance, insurance and real estate sector anticipate staff additions, the most of any industry.
- Forty-six percent of executives said they are “very confident” in their organizations’ ability to grow in the fourth quarter, and an equal number said they are “somewhat confident.”
General business confidence remains strong among all professional segments in the survey. Forty-six percent of executives said they are “very confident” in their organizations’ ability to grow in the fourth quarter, and an equal number said they are “somewhat confident.”
“Businesses are focusing their full-time hiring efforts on positions that create efficiencies as well as those that support and guide growth,” said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International. “Professional-level candidates enjoy an advantage in today’s job market, reflected by an unemployment rate for college-educated workers that is roughly one-half that of the general population.”
Brett Good, a senior district president with Robert Half International, added, “As opportunities expand for top talent, businesses are taking steps to ensure they are seen as an employer of choice. For example, to provide relief from heavy workloads that have built up in recent years, more companies are bringing in temporary and project professionals, as well as making targeted full-time hires.”
Professional-Level Hiring — By Region
Respondents in the East North Central states anticipate the strongest hiring activity in the fourth quarter, with a net 13 percent of executives planning to add staff. “Hiring is especially brisk in the manufacturing, healthcare and financial services sectors in the East North Central states, where it is not unusual for the strongest candidates to have multiple employment offers,” Messmer noted.
Professional-Level Hiring — By Industry
Fourth-quarter professional-level hiring is anticipated to be strongest in the finance, insurance and real estate sector, where a net 12 percent of respondents said they expect to make staff additions. A net 11 percent of executives in the retail industry also indicated they will hire during the quarter.
Professional-Level Hiring — By Field
A net 24 percent of respondents in the legal profession plan to hire, once again outpacing the other fields in the survey. “Law firms continue to seek senior-level associates with business development skills and a solid portfolio of clients, especially in high-demand practice areas such as litigation, bankruptcy and foreclosure, and labor and employment law,” Messmer commented. “Corporate legal departments looking to contain outside legal costs are expanding their in-house capabilities by hiring additional lawyers, compliance managers, paralegals, contract managers and administrators.”
The advertising and marketing fields also are expected to see strong hiring activity in the upcoming quarter, the survey shows. A net 20 percent of executives said they are planning to hire employees in those professions.
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