Executives Reveal Third-Quarter Hiring Plans

Robert Half Professional Employment Report: Executives’ Confidence Rising; Most Active Hiring Expected in Legal, Marketing Fields

Jun 1, 2011
8:00am

MENLO PARK, Calif., June 1, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Business optimism is rising, according to a recent study. Ninety-two percent of executives interviewed for The Robert Half Professional Employment Report (http://www.roberthalf.us/per) said they are confident in their firms’ growth prospects in the third quarter of 2011; 44 percent said they are very confident. This compares with 86 percent who expressed confidence in the second-quarter survey.

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The majority of executives, 90 percent, anticipate no change in staff levels during the third quarter. Six percent of respondents anticipate hiring professional-level staff and 3 percent foresee declines. The resulting net 3 percent planning staff additions is down two points from the second-quarter forecast. Even with the slight decrease in the net projection, the percentage of executives expecting to see staff reductions has been trending down over the past five quarters.

Executives also reported difficulties finding the talent they need. Forty-two percent of respondents said it is challenging to find skilled professionals today, up from 37 percent in the second-quarter survey.

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. Those interviewed 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.

Key Findings

  • Ninety-two percent of executives are at least somewhat confident in their organizations' ability to grow in the third quarter; 44 percent are very confident.
  • A net 3 percent of executives plan to add professional-level staff in the third quarter of 2011.
  • Forty-two percent of respondents said it is challenging to find skilled professionals today, up five points from the previous quarter.
  • The legal and marketing fields are expected to see the strongest hiring activity, with a net 30 percent of lawyers and a net 19 percent of marketing executives planning to increase staff levels.
  • Businesses in the West South Central(1) and Pacific(2) states project the most active hiring, with a net 6 percent of executives from each region planning to add professional-level staff in the third quarter.
  • A net 6 percent of executives in the construction sector anticipate staff additions.

Hiring expectations: By profession

Increase

Decrease

Net Increase

Total

6%

3%

3%

Accounting and finance

7%

6%

1%

Advertising and marketing

22%

3%

19%

Human resources

5%

2%

3%

Information technology

7%

3%

4%

Legal

35%

5%

30%

Sales and business development

5%

2%

3%



“Business confidence continues to grow,” said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International. “Although some companies remain reluctant to commit to full-time hires, others are actively looking for professionals to help them take advantage of new growth opportunities and enhance client service.”

Brett Good, senior district president with Robert Half International, added, "Companies are increasingly looking for candidates with specialized skills across a broader array of roles, and job seekers with in-demand expertise are finding opportunities more quickly and becoming increasingly scarce. Firms also are engaging interim employees to assist with current projects and rising workloads and to evaluate these professionals for potential full-time roles."

Professional-Level Hiring -- By Region

Respondents in the West South Central and Pacific states predict the strongest hiring activity in the third quarter, with a net 6 percent of executives in each region planning to add staff. "Business has picked up for many companies in the West South Central region -- especially energy and manufacturing firms. Positions being added are in response to new growth, in many cases," Messmer noted. "Hiring in the Pacific region also is accelerating, with top candidates beginning to receive multiple offers."

Professional-Level Hiring -- By Industry

A net 6 percent of executives in the construction industry expect to make staff additions. A net 5 percent of manufacturing respondents plan to hire in the third quarter.

Professional-Level Hiring -- By Field

Respondents in the legal profession continue to forecast the strongest hiring activity among all fields. Thirty-five percent of lawyers anticipate hiring legal professionals in the third quarter and 5 percent expect declines.

"Demand is strong for legal professionals in law firms that aggressively laid off employees during the downturn," Messmer noted. "Firms are focusing on senior- and partner-level lawyers with strong client relationships, solid business skills and management experience."

The advertising and marketing fields also are expected to see notably active hiring. Twenty-two percent of executives indicated they are planning to hire and 3 percent project staff reductions in the third quarter.

About Robert Half International

Founded in 1948, Robert Half International, the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm, is a recognized leader in professional staffing services. The company’s specialized staffing divisions include Accountemps®, Robert Half® Finance & Accounting and Robert Half® Management Resources, for temporary, full-time and senior-level project professionals, respectively, in the fields of accounting and finance; OfficeTeam®, for highly skilled office and administrative support professionals; Robert Half® Technology, for information technology professionals; Robert Half® Legal, for legal personnel; and The Creative Group®, for interactive, design,  marketing, advertising and public relations professionals. Robert Half International has staffing and consulting operations in more than 400 locations worldwide. Find more information at www.roberthalf.com, and follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/roberthalf.

(1) AR, LA, OK, TX

(2) AK, CA, HI, OR, WA

SOURCE Robert Half International

For further information: Michael Weiss, Robert Half International, +1-650-234-6383, michael.weiss@rhi.com


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