Executives Forecast Modest Professional-Level Hiring in Third Quarter

Robert Half Report: Executive Optimism Remains High; Some See Recruiting Challenges

Jun 03, 2010, 14:38 ET from Robert Half International

MENLO PARK, Calif., June 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Nine percent of executives interviewed for the Robert Half Professional Employment Report (http://www.roberthalf.us/per) said they plan to increase the number of full-time employees in professional occupations in the third quarter, and 6 percent anticipate declines. The net 3 percent(1) increase is down slightly from the prior quarter's forecast but continues a trend of hiring outpacing staff reductions. Eighty-five percent of respondents expressed confidence in growth prospects for their companies, up from 82 percent in the second-quarter survey.

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Forty-two percent of executives, including those not planning to hire in the next three months, said they are concerned about their ability to find the right talent to fit their needs when the time comes. This response is up five points from last quarter.

Key Findings

  • Eighty-five percent of executives said they are confident in their organizations' ability to grow in the third quarter.
  • A net 3 percent of executives plan to increase hiring in professional occupations in the third quarter of 2010.
  • Executives in the transportation and business services sectors plan to do the most hiring, with a net 12 percent and 9 percent, respectively, projecting hiring increases.
  • Among regions, businesses in New England(2) project the most hiring activity, with a net 10 percent of executives planning to add professional-level staff.
  • The legal field is again expected to see the strongest hiring activity, with a net 31 percent of respondents planning to increase staff levels, up from 26 percent in the second-quarter survey.
  • More than four in 10 executives (42 percent)(3) said it is challenging to find skilled professionals today.

The Robert Half Professional Employment Report is the first quarterly executive survey of its size and scope to focus exclusively on professional-level hiring. The survey is based on telephone interviews with more than 4,000 U.S. executives from a variety of fields(4) about their hiring plans and general level of optimism regarding the upcoming quarter.

"While most companies remain cautious about adding new staff, they appear to be more optimistic about their growth prospects for the third quarter," said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International. "As the economy improves, firms that made personnel cuts during the downturn will likely need additional skilled professionals in a variety of disciplines to help manage increased customer demand."

Survey results also showed that, despite high unemployment levels, many companies are discovering that locating the precise talent they need can be challenging. "Some firms are engaging project professionals not only as a way of maintaining staffing flexibility but also to evaluate and potentially groom these individuals for full-time roles," Messmer said.

Professional-Level Hiring -- By Region

Executives in New England project the most active hiring, results show, with a net 10 percent expecting to add staff. New England's results also represent the largest quarter-over-quarter net increase among all regions.

"The New England states appear to be rebounding," added Messmer. "Many firms are adding staff to handle new projects as well as those that were put on hold last year."

Professional-Level Hiring -- By Industry

Executives in the transportation and business services sectors anticipate the most professional-level hiring in the third quarter, with a net 12 percent and net 9 percent, respectively, projecting increases in personnel levels.

Professional-Level Hiring -- By Field

For the second consecutive quarter, respondents in the legal profession forecast the strongest hiring activity of all fields, with 33 percent of lawyers projecting staff increases and 2 percent anticipating declines.

"Law firms that aggressively reduced staff are now attempting to rebuild their teams, prompted in part by the recession's stimulative effect on practice areas such as bankruptcy, foreclosure and litigation," said Brett Good, a Robert Half International district president.

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 temporary administrative support personnel; Robert Half® Technology, for information technology professionals; Robert Half® Legal, for legal personnel; and The Creative Group®, for advertising, marketing and web design professionals. Robert Half has 360 staffing locations worldwide. Find more information at www.roberthalf.us, and follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/roberthalf.

(1) Net percentages equal the projected increase in full-time employees minus the expected decrease.

(2) CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, VT

(3) Respondents to this question included a total of more than 3,500 chief financial officers (CFOs), chief information officers (CIOs), attorneys, and advertising and marketing executives

(4) Survey respondents included more than 1,400 CFOs; 1,400 CIOs; 500 senior human resources managers; 100 attorneys at law firms and 100 corporate attorneys; and 125 advertising executives and 375 marketing executives within the United States who have hiring authority.

SOURCE Robert Half International