Hiring Forecast: Softening Some From 2012, While Tech Will Remain Strong

Dec 20, 2012
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.

While hiring by all employers is likely to be lackluster in the first part of next year, the intense competition for tech workers that has marked the last two years will continue in 2013.

Dice Holdings, parent company of the IT specialty job site, and others in the financial service and energy sectors, says its most recent survey of tech recruiters and hiring managers found that 64 percent of them will add new tech workers next year. Compare that to a second survey of hiring professionals in all sectors, which found only 46 percent expecting to add new hires.

The results of the tech-only survey does show some softening of the market. In the spring, when Dice asked this same question, 73 percent of the respondents expected to make tech hires in the last half of 2012. That tracks with the general job survey in the spring when 51 percent of hiring managers planned second-half hiring.

Dice conducts these hiring surveys twice a year — in the spring and again in the fall — which look ahead to the next six months. One survey asks specifically about tech hiring plans and is asked only of those who primarily hire or recruit technology professionals. The other asks about hiring plans for all types of workers.

What the surveys show, says Dice Chairman, President, and CEO Scot Melland is that 2013 is going to be “more of the same.” He sees continued, keen competition for tech workers, with companies relying more intently on search firms to help them fill openings.

Only about 20 percent of corporate hiring managers expect to use external recruiters to fill jobs. But 28 percent will turn to retained and contingent recruiters to fill tech positions.

That, says Melland, “shows that the IT job market is tight.” With tech worker unemployment right around 3 percent, recruiters are “having to pull employees from other companies.” In fact, 30 percent of tech recruiters said voluntary departures have increased at their company or at their client firms.

The survey also found 55 percent reporting that the time to fill IT jobs has lengthened from the same time last year; 16 percent said it’s increased substantially.

Companies in all sectors are more cautious about hiring going into the new year. Economic conditions, certainly, are part of the reason, but so is the uncertainty over the resolution of the “fiscal cliff” negotiations. The Dice surveys were conducted in November, after the election and just as national attention became focused on the expiration of tax reductions and wholesale spending cuts.

That may be why more of the survey respondents said current economic conditions have lead them to decrease their hiring plans. In the May survey, 23 percent said that. Last month, 27 percent said that.

Retention, as some other surveys have found, is rising in importance. That may explain why more than half the corporate respondents to the email survey report higher salaries for existing staff in 2013. The 55 percent who see raises on the horizon is a more than 10 percent increase over last year’s survey.

This article is part of a series called News & Trends.
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