By Steve Saah, Executive Director of Finance and Accounting Permanent Placement, Robert Half, Michael Steinitz, Senior Executive Director, Professional Talent Solutions, Robert Half, and Jeff Weber, Executive Director, Technology Practice, Robert Half

If you’re looking to hire more workers for your business, you might be wondering if you should reevaluate your plans, given recent speculation about changing economic conditions. No one knows for sure if a downturn will even materialize, but what’s clear right now is that the labor market remains hot. And stepping back as a contender for skilled talent now could be a mistake in the long term.

So, before you change course with your staffing plans, consider the following data points:

  • Recent research from the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) shows that business owners’ plans to staff open positions remain elevated — and 94% of owners hiring or trying to hire report few or no qualified applicants for the positions they’re trying to staff.
  • Robert Half’s biannual Job Optimism Survey found that four in 10 U.S. workers (41%) are currently looking or planning to look for a new role in the second half of this year. Our research also shows that finance and technology professionals are among those most likely to make a move.
  • In its latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that while the number of job openings in the United States decreased in June, there were still 10.7 million jobs waiting to be staffed at the end of that month. Meanwhile, 4.2 million workers voluntarily quit their jobs in June.
  • The national unemployment rate is just 3.5%, according to the July jobs report from the BLS. And the rate for college-educated workers 25 or older — those most sought-after by employers — is even lower: 2.0%. (See highlights from the July jobs report here.)

The BLS also has separate data that shows many specialized occupations have unemployment rates well below the national rate.* Here are just a few examples:

  • Accountants and auditors: 1.1%
  • Financial analysts: 1.0%
  • Software developers: 0.9%
  • Computer programmers: 1.6%
  • Attorneys and lawyers: 1.0%
  • Marketing managers: 1.5%

We can also tell you that Robert Half’s recruiting specialists are currently facing no shortage of requests from employers seeking to hire skilled talent for both remote and on-site positions. Based on what we’re hearing from our recruiters in the field and what we’re learning firsthand from employers, we can offer businesses the following recommendations for navigating this hot labor market successfully:

Support flexible work arrangements

Some employers are starting to request more of their employees come into the office with greater frequency, which can lead to hiring and retention challenges. The reality is that many of today’s job seekers are specifically targeting flexible or fully remote work opportunities. Also, Robert Half’s research shows that 50% of employees currently working remotely would look for another job if they were required to return to the office full time.

A better approach for employers is embracing flexibility. Not all companies can offer long-term remote work arrangements. But that shouldn’t prevent employees from working schedules that allow them to maintain a good work-life balance and stay productive. Savvy employers are working proactively with employees to create flexible work schedules that are sustainable, and it’s giving them an advantage in a highly competitive hiring market.

Offer (very) compelling compensation

It’s no exaggeration that most in-demand professionals on the job hunt today are not only receiving multiple offers but also counteroffers. Those offers often include generous compensation. In fact, research by our company shows that 55% of employers are prioritizing raising starting salaries as a strategy to attract skilled talent, and 44% said they’re prioritizing signing bonuses.

This strategy makes sense, given that the search for higher compensation is driving many professionals into the job market right now. For example, nearly two-thirds (65%) of the workers responding to our Job Optimism Survey who said they plan to look for a new job before the end of this year also reported that they are seeking a salary boost.

To confirm your organization is providing competitive compensation, consult the latest salary data in Robert Half’s Salary Guide.

Proactively outline opportunities for career growth

The Great Resignation that’s been underway since the spring of 2021 has seen millions of workers quit their jobs in search of something “better.” For many of those professionals, that has meant finding an employer that will help them grow their skills and knowledge — and further their career. According to Robert Half’s Job Optimism Survey, advancement opportunities are a top motivator for many workers planning a job search in the next six months.

Other research by our company shows that well over half (57%) of employers are already helping their employees to hone their leadership skills, and 39% are expanding professional development options to upskill their employees. However, findings from a separate survey we conducted indicate that many employees want their employers to do more, including outlining a clear path for career advancement.

The hiring process is a great place to start laying that framework. Be proactive in explaining what types of professional development your company offers and how an employee might advance in the role you’re hiring for (and when they’d be eligible to do so). Most important, ask each potential hire what specific growth opportunities they’re looking for. Even if you don’t currently offer what they want, perhaps you could — and should — and not just to attract that particular candidate.

If you need to hire, don’t wait

Employers are wondering what they can do to compete effectively for skilled talent in this hot labor market. The short answer is that they must work harder than ever to sell the opportunity and their company. The recommendations outlined above can help. And there’s something else that can give employers a critical edge: speed.

Suppose you hesitate at any point in the hiring process. Whether it’s taking too long to reach out to a promising candidate, leaving too much time between interviews, or assuming an interested candidate won’t continue to apply or interview for jobs until you decide to make an offer, you’re going to miss out.

In-demand talent is in demand, period. So, if you need and want to hire skilled professionals now or in the months ahead, know that time is not on your side. Don’t let the market rumblings prevent you from creating a workforce that can help your business thrive in any economy.

Let us help you build a productive, engaged workforce

Flexible staffing strategies, including hiring contract professionals and engaging managed services teams, can help your business stay agile and adapt to evolving demands. Click the button below to access more information about Robert Half’s talent solutions, including permanent placement, for the finance and accounting, technology, legal, marketing and creative, and administrative and customer support fields.


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*Current Population Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, July 8, 2022. Percentages reflect unemployment rates for select positions that were near or below the national unemployment rate at the end of second-quarter 2022.