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December 13, 2007
Employers React to 'Worker-Driven' Job Market
An annual study by Robert Half International (RHI) and Careerbuilder.com on employment and compensation trends reports that while 57 percent of hiring managers agreed that it was difficult to find qualified candidates for job openings last year, 91 percent said that recruiting is equally or even more challenging in 2007.

The reason? Just over half (52 percent) of those hiring managers having difficulties hiring said there is a shortage of qualified professionals. This situation provides more power to qualified applicant to demand higher compensation. The study, titled "The Employment and Growth Expectations (EDGE) Report," notes that 58 percent of workers who were surveyed said that they are more likely to negotiate a better compensation package today than last year.

Sixty-four percent of the EDGE Report HR professional respondents believed that recruiting will be just as challenging next year as it is now, and 28 percent think that it will be even more challenging.

As found again as in last year's EDGE Report, the most difficult positions to fill are technical and professional positions. An increase from 37 percent in 2006 to 43 percent in 2007 shows that the hiring situation in these two categories continues to grow more difficult.

In discussing these results, Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of RHI says, "To recruit successfully, companies must 'sell' applicants on the benefits of working for their firms. Organizations that are adept at promoting the positive and unique aspects of their corporate cultures to prospective hires have a significant advantage over their competitors."

The EDGE Report's worker responses show that 43 percent of employees said that it was more difficult to find a job 12 months ago and 35 percent said that it is more challenging today, compared to results in 2006 of 42 percent and 37 percent respectively, and in 2005 of 55 percent and 42 percent respectively. This gradual shift toward a worker-driven market increases job seekers' ability to negotiate salaries and perks.

"Workers are becoming more aggressive in demands for compensation and benefits with both current and potential employers," notes Matt Ferguson, CEO of Careerbuilder.com. "But it's important to remember that while higher pay may help to initially appease the employee, it's ultimately the overall work culture, sense of personal contribution and opportunities that keep an employee on board."

Employee Retention Efforts

One in five hiring managers participating in the EDGE Report survey said that their turnover rate is higher than it was 12 months ago, a trend that started in 2005 and has continued to increase during the past2 years. Some of the measures that have been taken to increase employee retention as reported by hiring managers in the survey follow:

  • Offering bonuses (23%)
  • Increasing pay (16%)
  • Improving the office environment (15%)
  • Providing a more defined career path (10%)

Employees highlighted work/life balance concerns as reasons that they would also consider changing jobs, according to the EDGE Report. Some reasons listed were: flexible schedules (65 percent), telecommuting opportunities (33 percent), and on-site fitness facilities (31 percent).

HR professionals may want to consider offering better perks and programs to help keep employees employed. The EDGE Report is based on the survey results of 1,035 employers and more than 900 employees.

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