Little Change Predicted In Search Firm Business in 2013

Dec 20, 2012

Retained and contingent search recruiters can expect to see about the same level of business in 2013 as they have in the last half of this year, according to a Dice Holdings survey.

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. Those results are virtually unchanged from a similar Dice survey in May, and have remained about the same for the last two years.

The difference in tech vs. all other types of searches can be chalked up to the tightness of the tech market and corporate hiring plans. 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 64 percent of them will add new tech workers next year. Compare that to a second survey of all hiring professionals, 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.” The heavier reliance on external recruiters to fill tech jobs “shows that the IT job market is tight.” With IT worker unemployment right around 3 percent, recruiters, he said,  are “having to pull employees from other companies.”

As the survey found, the hunt for scarce tech workers has increased time to fill.  Dice found 55 percent of the tech recruiters reporting 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.

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