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U.S. Executives Reveal Upcoming Professional-Level Hiring Plans
Businesses Express Greater Confidence In Growth Prospects

MENLO PARK, Calif., Sept. 5, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- 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. 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: 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 and 100 corporate lawyers; and 125 advertising executives and 375 marketing executives, all of whom have hiring authority. The Robert Half Professional Employment Report is the first quarterly executive survey of its size and scope to concentrate exclusively on professional-level hiring.

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[1] states 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; a net 24 percent said they anticipate hiring in the fourth quarter.


Hiring Expectations: By Profession




Net Increase/





Accounting and finance




Advertising and marketing




Human resources




Information technology








Sales and business development




"Executives in the United States appear to be increasingly optimistic about the growth prospects of their companies," said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International. "Businesses may be gearing up to support growth plans for the coming quarter and year."    

Brett Good, a senior district president with Robert Half, added, "The addition of sales and business development personnel indicates firms are sensing opportunities ahead. Businesses want to make sure they have the personnel needed to engage and gain customers and pave the way for growth."

Professional-Level Hiring -- By Field

The sales and business development profession topped the survey in anticipated hiring, with a net 33 percent of executives responsible for hiring in this field planning to add staff. The legal profession was not far behind, with a net 29 percent of lawyers indicating they will hire during the fourth quarter.

Professional-Level Hiring -- By Region

Executives in the Middle Atlantic states expect the most active hiring in the fourth quarter, with a net 23 percent of respondents reporting they plan to add staff. "The fastest-growing industries in the Middle Atlantic region include healthcare, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, nonprofit and retail," Messmer noted.

Professional-Level Hiring -- By Industry

Fourth-quarter professional-level hiring is anticipated to be strongest in the transportation industry, where a net 24 percent of respondents said they expect to make staff additions.

About Robert Half International

Founded in 1948, Robert Half International, the world's first and largest specialized staffing firm, is a recognized leader in professional staffing services. The company's specialized staffing divisions include Accountemps, Robert Half Finance & Accounting and Robert Half Management Resources, for temporary, full-time and senior-level project professionals, respectively, in the fields of accounting and finance; OfficeTeam, for highly skilled office and administrative support professionals; Robert Half Technology, for information technology professionals; Robert Half Legal, for legal personnel; and The Creative Group, for interactive, design, marketing, advertising and public relations professionals. Robert Half International has staffing and consulting operations in more than 400 locations worldwide. Find more information at, and follow us on Twitter at

[1]NJ, NY and PA

SOURCE Robert Half International

For further information: Michael Weiss, +1-650-234-6383,