Annual Study from Robert Half International and
CareerBuilder.com reveals tale of two Job Markets
Survey Shows Both Employees and Employers Face Challenges
in Tough Economy
• More than half of employers said it is challenging to find skilled
professionals; Generation Y workers are the most difficult to
• Closely mirroring responses from employers, more than half of workers said it
is challenging to find a job.
• Nearly two-thirds of workers are more likely to try to negotiate a better
compensation package than last year.
• A lack of qualified workers and the higher cost of gas/commuting were among
the top factors impacting companies’ ability to recruit skilled labor.
• Many employers are likely to offer reduced work schedules, “bridge” jobs and
consulting arrangements as an alternative to retirement.
• The time to fill open positions ranges from four to 14 weeks, with
senior-level roles demanding the most time.
• Six-in-10 employers estimate at least a quarter of applicants who contact
them are not qualified.
While many workers
are having a tough time finding suitable employment in today’s uncertain
economy, companies also face challenges finding highly skilled people. According
to the fourth annual Employment Dynamics and GrowthExpectations (EDGE) Report by
Robert Half International and CareerBuilder.com, employees rated the level of
challenge in finding a job at 3.56 on a one-to-five sliding scale; similarly,
employers rated the level of challenge in finding qualified candidates at 3.47.
“A dual hiring environment seems to be taking shape,” said
Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International. “Job seekers in some
fields are competing aggressively for open positions, giving employers the edge
in those segments of the hiring market. At the same time, however, companies
continue to face a shortage of highly skilled professionals in fields such as
technology and accounting. These in-demand workers may not be willing to leave
secure positions unless firms extend very attractive job offers.”
The Employment Dynamics and Growth Expectations (EDGE)
Report is an annual survey on employment and compensation trends by Robert Half
International and CareerBuilder.com. The survey includes responses from more
than 500 hiring managers and 500 workers, and was conducted from May 7 to June
1, 2008 by International Communications Research in Media, Pa. It was designed
to compare the perspectives of hiring managers and workers on the state of the
current employment market.
The Challenge of Recruiting Qualified Staff
The shortage of qualified workers has grown more acute,
with 59 percent of hiring managers citing it as their primary recruiting
challenge, up from 52 percent in 2007. Six out of 10 employers estimate that at
least a quarter of the applicants who contact them are not qualified. Thirty-one
percent report more than half of applicants are not qualified.
Complicating the task of finding qualified talent are
spiraling energy costs, hiring managers said. Twenty-nine percent said the rise
in fuel prices and commuting expenses has negatively impacted their ability to
attract skilled candidates who may want to limit their travel distance to and
from the office.
As employers manage through these challenges, recruiting
has become time consuming, taking anywhere from four to 14 weeks to fill open
positions. More than half of hiring managers (56 percent) said Generation Y
employees (those born between 1979 and 1999) are the most difficult to recruit,
perhaps because of high expectations around pay, career advancement, flexible
schedules and overall work environment.
The Compensation Question
When they find qualified professionals, firms appear
anxious to win them over. Nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of hiring managers said
they are willing to negotiate compensation for top candidates; 19 percent are
Despite not feeling overly confident in job prospects,
professionals are increasingly inclined to negotiate better compensation levels
as fuel, food, healthcare and other expenses grow. Sixty-three percent said they
are more likely to try to negotiate a better compensation package with a new
employer compared to 12 months ago. This contrasts with 58 percent in 2007.
“Businesses are operating on leaner resources and are
competing to secure the intellectual capital that will drive productivity and
new revenue streams. Companies are also replacing lower-performing employees to
strengthen their talent bench to prepare for a time when the economy shifts into
higher gear,” said Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder.com. “Recruiting highly
skilled professionals may require a greater financial commitment or special
perks that provide a more attractive work environment, however. Nearly
three-quarters of employees surveyed said the availability of flexible schedules
may cause them to choose one job over another.”
Holding on to Top Performers
While employee retention may be less of a concern in a
tougher economy, many employers have nonetheless taken measures in the last 12
months to prevent good workers from leaving their organizations, including:
• Allowing flexible
work schedules – 63 percent
• Providing funding
for additional training/certification – 62 percent
salaries – 56 percent
telecommuting options – 29 percent
expressed an interest in retaining employees nearing retirement age to manage
through the exodus of the baby boomers from the workforce. Forty-seven percent
are likely to offer reduced work schedules as an alternative to retirement.
Thirty-nine percent are likely to offer “bridge” jobs, while 37 percent are
likely to offer consulting arrangements.