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Job Candidates Gain Confidence

According to the EDGE Report from Robert Half International and CareerBuilder.com, professionals from a variety of industries are seeing better pay and gaining confidence in their ability to negotiate salaries for new positions.

January 17, 2008
from Accountemps

During the past two years, many workers have slowly adopted a rosier picture of their employment prospects. According to The 2007 Employment Dynamics and Growth Expectations (EDGE) Report from Robert Half International and CareerBuilder.com, employees from a variety of industries are seeing better pay and gaining confidence in their ability to negotiate salaries for new positions.

This improved perception of the job market has taken place over time. In 2005, 2006 and again in 2007, more than 900 employees and 1,000 hiring managers were asked in this annual survey if finding a job was more difficult than it had been 12 months earlier. The percentage who said it was either much more difficult or more difficult decreased from 42 percent in 2005 to 37 percent in 2006 to 35 percent in the current survey. Although the change has been slow, employees’ assessment of their situation has shown steady improvement.

The relatively upbeat outlook workers seem to now have appears reasonable, given that in the same survey, almost all the employers surveyed — 91 percent — said finding skilled professionals is just as challenging as it was 12 months ago if not more so. This total is 10 percent higher than last year’s results, and employers are not expecting the situation to change.

Hiring managers cite a continuing shortage of skilled, college-educated candidates, especially for technical and professional positions at the staff level, as primary factors shaping their opinions. Unemployment among this group remains low — around two percent for those professionals with university degrees, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics. The EDGE survey found that accounting and professional services positions, for example, are among the top ten most difficult vacancies to fill. Gradually, candidates for positions in highest demand are pressing their advantage, asking for and in many cases receiving better compensation. More than half (58%) of recent hires said they are more likely to negotiate better compensation with a new employer than they were 12 months ago. This is double the percentage (29%) who said so in last year’s survey.

And those professionals who want to stay with their current employer are seeing strategies designed to retain them. Almost a third of hiring managers reported setting new policies to keep workers on board, with bonuses and salary increases mentioned most often. Employers unable to lure workers with higher pay are sweetening the pot with other advantages, such as an improved office environment or flexible work schedules.

Accountemps is one of the world’s first and largest temporary staffing service specializing in the placement of accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. The company has more than 350 offices in North America, South America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, and offers online job search services at www.accountemps.com.