New survey shows modest improvement in hiring during second half of the year

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Is that a glimmer of hope we see for job seekers? While the headlines have focused mostly on job cuts among the world's largest financial institutions, a new survey of the nation's hiring managers shows that hiring expectations at least have rebounded from six months ago when elevated uncertainty gripped the economy.

The survey was conducted by our parent company, Dice Holdings, Inc., a leading provider of specialized career Web sites for professional communities, including It found that more than half (51 percent) of hiring managers and recruiters surveyed say they plan additional hiring during the second half of 2012, as compared to the first half of 2012.

This is a slight improvement from expectations at year-end when 47 percent of hiring managers believed additional hiring would occur in the first half of 2012 and identical to respondents' expectations one year ago.

"Tilt back toward optimism"

Hiring managers and recruiters appear to be seeing improvement in the environment. More than a quarter (26 percent) said current conditions have sparked an increase in their companies' and clients' hiring plans, up from 21 percent six months ago. Those curtailing hiring plans declined to 23 percent from 30 percent over the same time frame.

"The tilt back toward optimism continues to support modest job growth, despite the slower gains of the last few months," said Scot Melland, Chairman, President and CEO of Dice Holdings, Inc. "However, the moderate job creation doesn't appear to have instilled enough confidence for professionals to change employers easily. We have yet to see the surge in turnover that typically accompanies more than two years of consistent job growth."

When asked six months ago, 41 percent of corporate hiring managers predicted more employees would be leaving their companies in 2012, as compared to 2011. However, five months into the year, just 36 percent of corporate hiring managers are actually experiencing that increase in voluntary departures.

It may be taking more to attract qualified professionals; nearly half (47 percent) of hiring managers and recruiters said salaries for newly filled positions have increased from last year. That compares to 45 percent of respondents who said the same about existing employees.

"More harness racing than triple crown"

"When confidence in available career opportunities is high and mobility restored, the retention race will heat up," Melland added. "Right now, it's more harness racing than triple crown."

The hiring cycle remains elongated, but it appears some hiring managers and recruiters have seen improvement in time-to-fill open positions. About a quarter of respondents (24 percent) said the timelines for employee acquisition have shortened, as compared to just 15 percent six months ago. Still, more hiring managers and recruiters (35 percent) said timelines are lengthening, relative to late last year.

About the survey

The survey was conducted from May 14 to May 18, 2012. Dice Holdings surveyed U.S. companies, government entities and recruiting firms from every region of the country who hire or recruit a variety of professionals. More than 1,000 hiring professionals responded to the e-mail survey, with 75 percent identified as working for companies that recruit for their own needs. Of that group, 45 percent had more than 500 employees.

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