Secrets of the Job Hunt


Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Is it still an employers job market?

Just as I was wondering if its still an employers market a new study comes out to answer that question. Here are the recently published results...

In a new study of U.S. employees and hiring managers, both groups indicated that finding that perfect job -- or job candidate -- is no easy task. Four-in-10 hiring managers surveyed said it was difficult to find qualified staff one year ago, and one-in-three believes the task is even harder today. By contrast, more than half of workers polled felt it was difficult to find a job one year ago, and just under half said it's more challenging.

Neither employers nor employees feel they have a clear edge in the current job market, but workers may have more leverage than they realize as companies continue to face challenges in recruiting qualified staff. In fact, roughly one-in-four managers reported offering more generous compensation packages to new employees in the last 12 months, and one-in-three expect compensation levels to increase in the coming year.

The survey and report were developed by Robert Half International Inc. (RHI), a specialized staffing firm, and The survey includes responses from more than 600 hiring managers and 1,450 workers, and was conducted from August 1 to August 8, 2005. It was designed to compare and contrast the perspectives of hiring managers and workers in the current employment environment and determine which group has more clout in today's job market.

One-in-five hiring managers attributed their difficulty in finding qualified staff to the inability to offer competitive compensation packages. But there is a sense that willingness to increase starting salaries is improving. Half of hiring managers said they were not very or not at all willing to negotiate compensation levels for offers one year ago. However, 28 percent said compensation packages have increased from last year and 33 percent anticipated offering higher salary and benefits packages in the next 12 months.

At the same time, employees are becoming more aggressive in their pursuit of more lucrative compensation packages. Thirty-nine percent of workers said they were not very or not at all willing to ask for a better offer from an employer one year ago. Forty-seven percent said they will be more likely to push for more generous salary and benefits packages in the next 12 months.

"While professionals may be hesitant about the job market today, they expect to have greater bargaining power in the near future as new jobs are created," said Messmer. "The challenge for businesses is that while profits are improving, personnel budgets remain tight for many firms. Those that cannot offer competitive starting salaries will need to explore alternative incentives such as flexible schedules or other nontraditional benefits to position themselves as employers of choice."

Employee Turnover
While finding qualified talent has posed a challenge for many companies, hiring managers reported taking little action to retain their current team members. More than three-quarters of hiring managers do not expect turnover to increase from current levels, and the same percentage have not implemented any policies or programs aimed at increasing staff retention rates in the last 12 months.

Meanwhile, 28 percent of workers admitted they are currently looking for a new job. Three-in-10 think they will likely change jobs in the next year and 47 percent expect to do so in the next three years.

"Nearly half of workers say they will leave their current jobs in the next three years, and one-fourth will do so in the next year," said Ferguson. "Employers who are not focused on retention may experience an exodus of top performers and a corresponding rise in turnover costs. Compensation won't be enough to retain workers. Employers will need to leverage creative benefits, carve out clear paths for career advancement and provide a supportive work environment to keep critical talent in place."

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