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Employers Preparing for Post-Recession Job Market

Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder.com

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The past year has undoubtedly brought many changes and challenges to both employers and employees. Layoffs, pay cuts and furloughs have been widespread, thus contributing to a job market saturated with qualified candidates competing for fewer jobs. Despite this steep competition among candidates, employers struggle to find professionals with in-demand skill sets.

Along with these continued battles, employers face a new challenge: ensuring their companies are prepared when the economy does make an inevitable turnaround, which will give them a competitive advantage.

A new survey, the 2009 EDGE Report from Robert Half International and CareerBuilder, provides answers to many of the lingering questions surrounding today's economy and job market: Where will jobs be added first in the recovery? What challenges will employers face in recruitment? How will compensation be impacted? And how will employers retain the talent they've preserved during this difficult time?

To take advantage of an improving economy, employers that cut staffing levels extensively are taking a close look at the core skills needed in new hires in order to rebuild their rosters once the economic recovery takes hold.

Fifty-three percent of employers said they plan to hire full-time employees in the next 12 months, while 39 percent will add part-time employees, according to a new survey. Forty percent will hire contract, temporary or project professionals.

Here are several key other findings from the report:

Where jobs will be added first
Hiring managers currently consider customer service as the most critical to the company's success, followed by sales, marketing/creative and technology. Public relations/communication, business development and accounting/finance round out the list.

When the economy does start to rebound, respondents said technology, customer service and sales departments will add positions first, followed by marketing/creative, business development, human resources and accounting/finance.

In the meantime, hiring managers continue to appreciate employees who can perform multiple functions. Employers cited multitasking, initiative and creative problem-solving as the most valuable characteristics in ideal new hires.

Retaining talent
Although many business leaders have plans to add new employees to their organizations in the coming months, they also have to consider how their decisions during the financial crisis have impacted job satisfaction and loyalty of their current staff.

Fifty-five percent of workers polled have plans to change careers, find a new employer or go back to school once the economy recovers. Forty-nine percent said that the most effective way to keep them on board will be with pay increases; in fact, 28 percent plan to ask for a raise.

Employers are aware that competitive pay and benefits will play a critical role in retaining talent. Forty percent of employers said that they plan to increase pay when the economy improves and 20 percent said they hope for better benefits and perks.

Continued challenges in recruitment
Although there is a greater pool of available talent among job seekers, employers are still having trouble finding qualified professionals for open positions: 47 percent of employers cited under-qualified applicants as their most common hiring challenge. Employers said that, on average, 44 percent of the résumés they receive are from unqualified candidates.

As a result, employers are open to paying for great talent; 61 percent said their companies are willing to negotiate a higher salary for qualified candidates.

A common complaint from job seekers is the amount of time the hiring process takes; however, this is one area where employers won't budge. The average time it takes to recruit a new full-time hire is 4.5 to 14.4 weeks. Employers say that in order to avoid costly hiring mistakes, it's necessary to take their time reviewing and screening a high volume of résumés, and also to carefully evaluate those invited for interviews.

Matt Ferguson is the CEO of CareerBuilder.com. He is an expert in the state of the job market, employment trends, hiring practices and workplace issues.



Last Updated: 03/09/2009 - 6:55 PM


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