The March Jobs Report and Key Takeaways: Should You Re-Review Your Hiring Budget?

March 2015 jobs report

The March jobs report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that U.S. employers added fewer jobs than expected – just 126,000 – which is the lowest number of job gains since December 2013. However, the overall unemployment rate stayed steady at 5.5 percent, which remains the lowest rate since May 2008. And the unemployment rate for college-educated workers 25 and older is now 2.5 percent, down from 2.7 percent in February and 3.4 percent a year ago.

Here are a few other key details from the March jobs report:

  • The professional and business services sector added 40,000 jobs.
  • Employment in computer systems design and related services, and management and technical consulting services continues to trend up (+4000, each).
  • Over the past three months, job gains have averaged 197,000 per month.

The number of jobs added in March is far below estimates. But one month’s report does not make a trend. The market for specialized, skilled talent remains solid. Smart companies will continue to make sure they are fully prepared to compete for skilled talent. As you look ahead to spring and summer hiring, are you able to offer candidates an appropriate level of compensation — and maybe even a bit more to secure the most qualified professionals for your business?

Companies missing out on great hires

With the release of the January jobs report, I recommended companies give extra attention to compensation. However, we’re still seeing many employers missing out on great hires because they don’t have a well-defined recruiting strategy or enough money allocated to compete for the most in-demand workers.

Your firm, like many businesses, may be working with hiring budgets that were approved last summer or fall. So, you may not have ample budget to support your hiring goals in the months ahead. In addition, many of your competitors are streamlining hiring processes and willing to negotiate starting pay with top candidates possessing sought-after skill sets.

As an example, it’s not unusual to see IT auditors receiving starting salaries that are higher than market prices — especially if they need to travel for their jobs. Robert Half recruiters also have seen starting compensation rise 10 percent or more from a year ago for hot jobs such as mobile applications developer and big data engineer.

Time for a hiring budget “re-review”

If you’re not sure that your organization can step up to negotiate salary with job candidates in the months ahead (especially if they counter your offer), now is the time to re-review your hiring budget and determine the following:

  • Do we have the most current data? To confirm you’re offering at least the going rate for positions you’re trying to fill, look to resources such as Robert Half’s 2015 Salary Guides. Make sure that your professional network includes specialized recruiters and talk with them regularly. You will gain a better understanding of the local hiring landscape and current market conditions. When you’re ready to hire, they can recommend an appropriate starting salary range that will attract top talent.
  • Do we need to go back to senior management for more money? If you realize budgetary constraints could put your business at a disadvantage, the Salary Guides mentioned above can help you make the case to leadership to increase funds. The Demand for Skilled Talent is another valuable resource you can use to support your cause; the report summarizes key factors influencing today’s hiring market. If budgets for full-time hiring can’t be expanded, consider exploring other staffing strategies, such as hiring consultants, which could be more cost-effective.
  • Are we doing the right things to attract the best candidates? Offering a competitive salary is essential, but most professionals will weigh other factors when considering an employment offer. For example, a recent Accountemps survey found that a solid benefits plan and vacation time are high on most employees’ wish lists — right behind salary. Your company’s culture, values and opportunities for professional development can also influence a candidate’s decision.

In addition to advice you get from recruiters, seek input from your human resources team and your internal staff for their take on what makes your company an employer of choice, and be sure to emphasize those attributes to job candidates.

And while we’re on the topic of current staff members … what are you doing to “re-recruit” them? This should be a top priority for all managers who want to retain their best employees. Make it a habit to check in regularly – and in person – to gauge their morale and workload levels. Build and refine a workplace culture that is second to none to keep your most valuable players from leaving. These professionals are in demand and your competition may be trying to recruit them right now. Don’t make the costly mistake of assuming that people are happy in their roles and uninterested in exploring possible opportunities outside your company.

March 2015 jobs report

Finding Quality Employees for Your Business (The Chicago Tribune)


Tags: Jobs Report, News