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Executives Project Second-Quarter Hiring Plans
Robert Half Professional Employment Report: Business Optimism Continues to Rise, Recruiting Challenges Persist

MENLO PARK, Calif., Feb. 29, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Hiring in professional fields is likely to continue rising in the second quarter but at a slower pace than forecast for the first quarter, a new Robert Half survey shows. A net 2 percent of executives interviewed for the Robert Half Professional Employment Report plan to add full-time staff in the second three months of 2012, down from 10 percent last quarter. The biggest trend in the survey is the increase in the number of respondents who anticipate no change in hiring activity: 89 percent versus 78 percent last quarter.

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Against this background, 91 percent of executives reported they are somewhat or very confident in their companies' growth prospects in the second quarter, up four points from the first-quarter survey. In addition, more than six in 10 respondents (61 percent) indicated they are having difficulty finding skilled employees today.

The Robert Half Professional Employment Report is based on telephone interviews with more than 4,000 U.S.-based C-level executives and other leaders 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

  • Five percent of executives anticipate bringing in additional staff, and 3 percent expect personnel reductions. Eighty-nine percent of respondents project no changes to the size of their full-time, professional-level teams in the second quarter.
  • Nine out of 10 (91 percent) executives expressed confidence about growth at their firms during the quarter.
  • Sixty-one percent of those surveyed reported recruiting challenges.
  • The legal field is again expected to see the strongest hiring activity, with a net 22 percent of lawyers planning to increase staff levels.
  • Businesses in the East South Central[1] states anticipate hiring most actively, with a net 8 percent of executives in the region expecting to add professional-level staff.
  • Respondents in the transportation sector are most likely to make staff additions in the second quarter; a net 9 percent said they anticipate hiring.

Hiring Expectations: By Profession




Net Increase





Accounting and finance




Advertising and marketing




Human resources




Information technology (IT)








Sales and business development





Executives Reporting Recruiting Challenges: All Professions


Executives Facing
Recruiting Challenges











"Although the hiring outlook for professional-level positions remains positive overall, it could be tempered somewhat in reaction to issues such as the fiscal uncertainties in the Eurozone and weaker growth in Asia," said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International. 

Added Brett Good, a senior district president with Robert Half International, "Companies that are not ready to make a full-time hire often fill human resource needs on a temporary basis so they can staff up or down as business demands change. Temporary and project professionals provide access to skills on a right-now basis and can give businesses more control over their personnel budgets."

Professional-Level Hiring -- By Region
Executives in the East South Central states expect the most active hiring levels in the second quarter, with a net 8 percent of respondents planning to add staff. "A number of companies, especially manufacturing and distribution firms, have relocated some of their operations to these states, driving hiring activity," Messmer commented. "Businesses are seeking staff accountants and the planning and strategic expertise of senior financial analysts, as well as database developers, network administrators and desktop support professionals."

Professional-Level Hiring -- By Industry
Second-quarter professional-level hiring is anticipated to be strongest in the transportation sector, where a net 9 percent of respondents said they expect to make staff additions. This was followed by a net 6 percent of executives in the manufacturing field who indicated they will hire during the upcoming quarter.

Professional-Level Hiring -- By Field
The legal profession again topped the survey in anticipated hiring, with a net 22 percent of lawyers planning to add staff. A net 10 percent of executives in the advertising and marketing field indicated they would hire during the second quarter.

The IT and accounting and finance fields reported the greatest difficulty finding skilled professionals, as cited by 65 percent and 62 percent of executives, respectively. 

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 temporary administrative support personnel; 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] AL, KY, MS, TN

SOURCE Robert Half International

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