October 2021 Hiring Trends

The Demand For Skilled Talent

Welcome to The Demand for Skilled Talent, your look into the hiring trends making noise across the country. Our research shows that job optimism is strong among U.S. workers, signaling career moves on the horizon. Employers are facing new hiring and retention challenges as they adapt to the needs of a more mobile workforce. Explore the latest numbers on hiring, hybrid work and the cost of a bad hire.

Jobs — and Resignations — Rising*

Unemployment Rate (September 2021): 4.8%

Job Openings (August 2021): 10.4 million*

Employee Voluntary Quit Level (August 2021): 4.3 million*

*Bureau of Labor Statistics. Preliminary and seasonally adjusted

Top 3 Hiring Challenges

Senior managers anticipate their biggest hiring hurdles to occur during the second half of 2021*:

Employers Hiring 22%

Finding candidates with the right skills

Employers Hiring 17%

Hiring quickly enough to land the best talent

Employers Hiring 16%

Finding candidates who complement the company culture

*Top responses shown

Workers Are in the Driver’s Seat

Candidates looking for a job aren’t going to wait around, and they’re open to full-time contracting.

Percentage of professionals who lose interest in a job if they don’t hear back within two weeks of the initial interview:

62%

Percentage of job candidates who will ghost the potential employer if they feel strung along:

49%

Percentage of workers planning to look for a new job who want to pursue contracting as a career:

39%

Hiring Plans and Strategies

Senior managers share hiring plans for full-time employees in their department for the second half of 2021:

Hiring Outlook*

51%

Adding new permanent positions

48%

Filling vacated positions or bringing back furloughed employees

2%

Freezing hiring

Top Hiring Incentive

48%

Offering signing bonuses

*Responses do not total 100% due to rounding.

Top 5 Industries Hiring

  1. Finance, insurance and real estate
  2. Manufacturing
  3. Technology
  4. Construction
  5. Transportation and public utilities

Managers also weigh in on changes their companies have made to their hiring strategies since January 2021*:

49%

Conducted remote interviews and onboarding sessions

40%

Posted open roles to diversity-focused sites and online networks

39%

Expanded search geographically to access a wider candidate pool

38%

Increased the use of temporary or contract professionals

36%

Shortened the hiring process

32%

Advertised fully remote jobs

* Multiple responses were permitted. Top responses are shown.

See trends for each area of business.

Top Positions

Percentages reflect Q3 2021 unemployment rates*

1.1%

Financial analysts

2.1%

Compliance officers

2.1%

Financial managers

2.6%

Loan officers

2.7%

Bookkeepers

3.8%

Accountants and auditors

3.8%

Billing clerks

Additional positions in demand:

  • Accounts receivable/accounts payable specialists
  • Credit/collections clerks
  • Controllers
  • Payroll managers

Hiring and Employment Trends

52% of senior managers in finance and accounting said they are hiring for new positions in the second half of 2021. 45% said they are hiring only for vacated roles or bringing back furloughed employees.

78% said they will be hiring contract workers to support year-end initiatives.

When recruiting for open roles, 59% said their company starts local and broadens its search if too much time passes without finding qualified candidates.

44% said their company is offering signing bonuses for new employees to attract and retain in-demand talent.

76% said turnover on their team has increased since Jan. 1, 2021, mainly due to employees’ concerns for their job security.

43% of finance and accounting professionals plan to look for a new job in the second half of 2021.

  • 30% cited a salary boost as the main reason.
  • 51% seek a full-time consulting or project-based career.

*Current Population Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, October 8, 2021. Percentages reflect unemployment rates for select positions that were near or below the national unemployment rate at the end of Q3 2021.

Source: Robert Half surveys of more than 270 senior managers with hiring responsibilities and nearly 450 professionals working in finance and accounting in the U.S.

Top Positions

Percentages reflect Q3 2021 unemployment rates*

0.9%

Facilities managers

2.8%

Office and administrative support supervisors

2.9%

HR managers

3.6%

File clerks

3.7%

Administrative assistants

4.0%

Executive assistants

4.5%

Office clerks

Additional positions in demand:

  • Call center representatives
  • Customer service managers
  • Customer service specialists
  • HR assistants
  • HR benefits specialists/coordinators
  • HR recruiters
  • Receptionists

Hiring and Employment Trends

58% of senior managers in administrative support said they are hiring for new positions in the second half of 2021. 43% said they are hiring only for vacated roles or bringing back furloughed employees.

79% said they will be hiring contract workers to support year-end initiatives.

When recruiting for open roles, 48% said their company starts local and broadens its search if too much time passes without finding qualified candidates.

58% said their company is offering cash incentives to encourage existing employees working remotely to return to the office.

74% said turnover has increased on their team since Jan. 1, 2021, mainly due to limited opportunities for employees’ career growth.

24% of administrative professionals said they plan to look for a job in the second half of 2021.

  • 27% cited a lack of advancement opportunities at their current company as the main reason.
  • 55% seek full-time, remote-only opportunities in their next role.

*Current Population Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, October 8, 2021. Percentages reflect unemployment rates for select positions that were near or below the national unemployment rate at the end of Q3 2021.

Source: Robert Half surveys of 90 senior managers with hiring responsibilities and more than 400 professionals working in administrative support in the U.S.

Top Positions

Percentages reflect Q3 2021 unemployment rates*

0.2%

Database administrators and architects

0.8%

Information security analysts

0.8%

Software developers

1.0%

Network and computer systems administrators

1.5%

Computer programmers

1.8%

Web developers

1.9%

Computer and information systems managers

2.2%

Systems analysts

3.1%

Help desk and desktop support professionals

4.3%

Network/cloud architects

Additional positions in demand:

  • Business intelligence analysts

Hiring and Employment Trends

56% of senior managers in technology said they are hiring for new positions in the second half of 2021. 42% said they are hiring only for vacated roles or bringing back furloughed employees.

82% said they will hire contract workers to support year-end initiatives.

When recruiting for open roles, 60% said their company starts local and broadens its search if too much time passes without finding qualified candidates.

53% said their company is offering signing bonuses for new employees to attract and retain in-demand talent.

80% of technology leaders said turnover has increased on their team since Jan. 1, 2021, mainly due to employees’ concerns for their job security.

35% of technology professionals plan to look for a new job in the second half of 2021.

  • 33% cited a lack of advancement opportunities at their current company as the main reason.
  • 50% said they seek a full-time, remote-only opportunity in their next role.

*Current Population Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, October 8, 2021. Percentages reflect unemployment rates for select positions that were near or below the national unemployment rate at the end of Q3 2021.

Source: Robert Half surveys of more than 850 senior managers with hiring responsibilities and 630 professionals working in technology in the U.S.

Top Positions

Percentages reflect Q3 2021 unemployment rates*

0.4%

Advertising managers

0.8%

Market research analysts and marketing specialists

1.8%

Web developers

2.6%

Marketing managers

4.7%

Copywriters

4.8%

Technical writers

Additional positions in demand:

  • Content strategists
  • Data analysts
  • Digital marketing managers
  • Graphic designers
  • User experience (UX) and user interface (UI) designers

Hiring and Employment Trends

54% of senior managers in marketing and creative said they are hiring for new positions in the second half of 2021. 46% said they are hiring only for vacated roles or bringing back furloughed employees.

75% said they will hire contract workers to support year-end initiatives.

When recruiting for open roles, 60% said their company starts local and broadens its search if too much time passes without finding qualified candidates.

48% said their company is negotiating title upgrades for new and existing employees to attract and retain in-demand talent.

75% of leaders said turnover has increased on their team since Jan. 1, 2021, mainly due to limited opportunities for employees’ career growth.

36% of marketing and creative professionals plan to look for a new job in the second half of 2021.

  • 46% cited a salary boost as the main reason.
  • 58% said they seek a full-time, remote-only opportunity in their next role.

*Current Population Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, October 8, 2021. Percentages reflect unemployment rates for select positions that were near or below the national unemployment rate at the end of Q3 2021.

Source: Robert Half survey of more than 110 senior managers with hiring responsibilities and approximately 70 professionals working in marketing and creative in the U.S.

Top Positions

Percentages reflect Q3 2021 unemployment rates*

1.2%

Attorneys/lawyers

3.6%

Paralegal/legal assistants

Additional positions in demand:

  • Compliance analysts
  • Contract administrators
  • Data privacy specialists
  • Legal secretaries
  • Litigation support/eDiscovery managers

Hiring and Employment Trends

43% of lawyers said they are hiring for new positions in the second half of 2021. 51% said they are hiring only for vacated roles or bringing back furloughed employees.

53% said they will hire contract workers to support year-end initiatives.

When recruiting for open roles, 53% said their law firm or company starts local and broadens its search if too much time passes without finding qualified candidates.

47% said their law firm or company is offering signing bonuses for new employees as a strategy to attract and retain in-demand talent.

72% said turnover has increased on their team since Jan. 1, 2021, mainly due to limited opportunities for employees’ career growth.

38% of legal professionals said they plan to look for a job in the next six months.

  • 37% cited low morale or burnout as the main reason.
  • 41% seek full-time, remote-only opportunities in their next role.

*Current Population Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, October 8, 2021. Percentages reflect unemployment rates for select positions that were near or below the national unemployment rate at the end of Q3 2021.

Source: Robert Half surveys of 100 lawyers with hiring responsibilities and more than 70 professionals working in the legal profession in the U.S.

Top Positions

Percentages reflect Q3 2021 unemployment rates*

1.4%

Medical records specialists

3.5%

Medical claims examiners

Additional positions in demand:

  • Insurance verification specialists
  • Medical customer service representatives
  • Medical executive assistants
  • Medical front desk coordinators
  • Medical receptionists
  • Patient registration coordinators
  • Patient services representatives

Hiring and Employment Trends

44% of senior managers in the healthcare industry said they are hiring for new positions in the second half of 2021. 54% said they are hiring only for vacated roles or bringing back furloughed employees.

74% said they will hire contract workers to support year-end initiatives.

When recruiting for open roles, 54% said their company starts local and broadens its search if too much time passes without finding qualified candidates.

56% said their company is offering signing bonuses for new employees as a strategy to attract and retain in-demand talent.

71% said turnover has increased on their team since Jan. 1, 2021, mainly due to employees’ concerns for their job security.

*Current Population Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, October 8, 2021. Percentages reflect unemployment rates for select positions that were near or below the national unemployment rate at the end of Q3 2021.

Source: Robert Half survey of more than 290 senior managers with hiring responsibilities in the healthcare industry in the U.S.

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The Cost of a Bad Hire

Percentage of senior managers who admit to hiring the wrong candidate for a role:

76%

Percentage of senior managers who said the negative impact is more severe now than it was a year ago:

64%

Biggest Tolls on Their Teams and Company

  1. Time wasted hiring and training the new employee
  2. Decreased staff morale and productivity
  3. Increased stress on the supervisor

Time Lost on Hiring Mistakes

10 — The number of weeks to terminate the bad hire

6 — Additional weeks needed to restaff the role

Anywhere Working: The Next Chapter

Flexibility is important to workers, and managers are working hard to provide it.

Worker Sentiments

How Employees Prefer to Work

49%

Hybrid of remote and in-office

26%

Fully remote

25%

Fully in-office

What Workers Want to Help Ease the Back-to-Office Transition

  1. Freedom to set preferred office hours
  2. A personal, distraction-free workspace
  3. Employer-paid commuting costs
  4. Relaxed dress code
  5. Employer-provided childcare

Employer Perspectives

Where Managers Want Workers

71%

Full-time in the office

Top 6 Ways Companies Support Workers

  1. Offering flexible work schedules (e.g., compressed workweek or flextime)
  2. Increasing employee engagement
  3. Monitoring and managing workloads
  4. Building and sustaining team morale
  5. Providing access to employee well-being resources
  6. Investing in employee collaboration tools

Boosting Career Options, Post Pandemic

The pandemic has taken a toll on workers, with 38% experiencing stalled careers. The number jumps to 66% for Gen Z professionals. Upskilling, and better pay, helps all employees move forward.

Worker Sentiments

How Careers Have Taken a Hit During the Pandemic

54%

Salary growth

47%

Career advancement and professional network growth (tied)

44%

Skills development

Top Reasons For Seeking a New Job

20%

Salary boost and career advancement (tied)

Employer Perspectives

Top 6 Skills For Future Company Leaders

  1. Strategic and critical thinking
  2. Technical
  3. Planning and organization
  4. Communication
  5. Creativity
  6. Adaptability

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Sources:

Employment Situation Summary — September 2021, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, October 8, 2021

Job Openings and Labor Turnover — August 2021, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, October 12, 2021

Robert Half survey of more than 2,800 senior managers, including more than 1,000 HR managers in the U.S., June 2021

Robert Half survey of more than 2,800 workers 18 years of age or older at companies in 28 major U.S. cities with 20 or more employees, April 2021

Robert Half survey of more than 1,000 workers 18 years of age or older at companies in the U.S., March 2021

Robert Half survey of more than 1,000 workers 18 years of age or older at companies in the U.S., January 2021

Robert Half survey of more than 2,800 senior managers at companies with 20 or more employees in the U.S., December 2020