Study: Hiring to Remain Tepid to Finish Out 2012

Menlo Park, Calif. — Sept. 5

Seventeen percent of U.S. executives surveyed for the quarterly Robert Half Professional Employment Report said they will add full-time, professional-level staff in the fourth quarter of 2012, while another 5 percent signaled they will make personnel reductions, resulting in a net 12 percent who plan to hire.

Furthermore, more than three quarters (77 percent) of executives said they anticipate making no change to the size of their teams in the next three months.

The survey results also suggest that business optimism is growing, as 37 percent of respondents said they are “very confident” in growth prospects for their companies in the fourth quarter — up 16 points from the third-quarter findings. An additional 56 percent said they are “somewhat confident.”

The Robert Half Professional Employment Report is based on telephone interviews with more than 4,000 U.S.-based C-level executives and other senior managers in a variety of fields 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; 100 corporate lawyers; 125 advertising executives; and 375 marketing executives, all of whom have hiring authority.

Key Findings:

Seventeen percent of executives anticipate bringing in additional staff in the fourth quarter and 5 percent project personnel reductions, resulting in a net 12 percent of respondents expecting to increase personnel levels, up 12 points from last quarter’s survey.

Seventy-seven percent of executives expect to make no change to the size of their full-time, professional-level teams.

Thirty-seven percent of respondents said they are “very confident” in growth prospects for their companies in the fourth quarter, a 16-point increase over the third-quarter results, while an additional 56 percent said they are “somewhat confident,” down two points from the previous quarter.

Fifty-seven percent of executives said they expect to encounter recruiting challenges in the fourth quarter.

A net 33 percent of executives plan to hire sales and business development professionals in the upcoming quarter, more than any other field. Strong fourth-quarter hiring also is expected in the legal profession (net 29 percent) and advertising and marketing field (net 13 percent).

Companies in the Middle Atlantic region — specifically, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania — anticipate hiring most actively in the fourth quarter, with a net 23 percent of executives in the region planning to add professional-level staff.

Respondents in the transportation sector are most likely to make personnel additions, while a net 24 percent said they anticipate hiring in the fourth quarter.

Source: Robert Half International