Employment Dynamics And Growth Expectations (EDGE) Report Reveals Job Seekers Have More Influence Than They Realize

MENLO PARK, CA and CHICAGO, August 30, 2005 -- Who has the upper hand in the job market as Labor Day approaches? It depends on whom you ask. In a new study of U.S. employees and hiring managers, both groups indicated that finding that perfect job – or job candidate – is no easy task. Four-in-10 hiring managers surveyed said it was difficult to find qualified staff one year ago, and one-in-three believes the task is even harder today. By contrast, more than half of workers polled felt it was difficult to find a job one year ago, and just under half said it’s more challenging today.

Neither employers nor employees feel they have a clear edge in the current job market, but workers may have more leverage than they realize as companies continue to face challenges in recruiting qualified staff. In fact, roughly one-in-four managers reported offering more generous compensation packages to new employees in the last 12 months, and one-in-three expect compensation levels to increase in the coming year.

The survey and report were developed by Robert Half, the world’s largest specialized staffing firm, and, the U.S.’s largest online job site. The survey includes responses from more than 600 hiring managers and 1,450 workers, and was conducted from August 1 to August 8, 2005. It was designed to compare and contrast the perspectives of hiring managers and workers in the current employment environment and determine which group has more clout in today’s job market.

Hiring Trends and the Demand for Qualified Workers       

“It’s hard to find good help” is an adage to which many managers can relate, the survey suggests. Forty-two percent of hiring managers reported it was difficult to find qualified candidates one year ago and 32 percent said it is even more challenging to find good people today. Forty-seven percent attributed the difficulty to an overall shortage of qualified workers.

Although the United States has experienced 26 consecutive months of job creation, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, and employers are voicing concern over a shrinking talent pool, U.S. workers are still suffering from post-recession skepticism about the job market. Fifty-five percent of workers said it was difficult to find a job 12 months ago and 42 percent believe it is even more challenging today. 

“Employers have become more selective in the recruitment process, closely scrutinizing the skill sets and productivity potential of each candidate as they expand leaner staffs in the wake of a downturn,” said Matt Ferguson, CEO of “Qualified workers in a variety of industries and fields are in demand and we are beginning to see the groundwork for a shift to an employee-driven market. As workers become cognizant of the demand and more active in pursuing new job opportunities, the competition for top talent will become even more pronounced.”

“Many businesses are finding it challenging to hire skilled professionals, particularly in industries such as finance and accounting, which have experienced accelerating demand as companies strive to maintain compliance with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and related legislation,” said Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half. “Firms are stepping up their recruiting efforts and offering a variety of incentives to attract top professionals within these sectors.”


One-in-five hiring managers attributed their difficulty in finding qualified staff to the inability to offer competitive compensation packages. But there is a sense that willingness to increase starting salaries is improving. Half of hiring managers said they were not very or not at all willing to negotiate compensation levels for offers one year ago. However, 28 percent said compensation packages have increased from last year and 33 percent anticipated offering higher salary and benefits packages in the next 12 months.

At the same time, employees are becoming more aggressive in their pursuit of more lucrative compensation packages. Thirty-nine percent of workers said they were not very or not at all willing to ask for a better offer from an employer one year ago. Forty-seven percent said they will be more likely to push for more generous salary and benefits packages in the next 12 months.      

“While professionals may be hesitant about the job market today, they expect to have greater bargaining power in the near future as new jobs are created,” said Messmer. “The challenge for businesses is that while profits are improving, personnel budgets remain tight for many firms. Those that cannot offer competitive starting salaries will need to explore alternative incentives such as flexible schedules or other nontraditional benefits to position themselves as employers of choice.

 Employee Turnover

While finding qualified talent has posed a challenge for many companies, hiring managers reported taking little action to retain their current team members. More than three-quarters of hiring managers do not expect turnover to increase from current levels, and the same percentage have not implemented any policies or programs aimed at increasing staff retention rates in the last 12 months.

Meanwhile, 28 percent of workers admitted they are currently looking for a new job. Three-in-10 think they will likely change jobs in the next year and 47 percent expect to do so in the next three years.

“Nearly half of workers say they will leave their current jobs in the next three years, and one-fourth will do so in the next year,” said Ferguson. “Employers who are not focused on retention may experience an exodus of top performers and a corresponding rise in turnover costs. Compensation won’t be enough to retain workers. Employers will need to leverage creative benefits, carve out clear paths for career advancement and provide a supportive work environment to keep critical talent in place.”

To view charts and graphs of the survey results, please visit or’s press room, or contact Matthew Meigs or Jennifer Sullivan. (Contact information is below.)

Survey Methodology

The survey was conducted from August 1 to August 8, 2005. Methodology used to collect survey responses totaling more than 1,450 workers for this study involved selecting a random sample of comScore Networks panel members. These web panel members were approached via an e-mail invitation, which asked them to participate in a short online survey. The results of this survey are statistically accurate to within +/- 2.57 percentage points (19 times out of 20).  Note:  This sample included more than 600 hiring managers.  The results for the hiring managers are statistically accurate to within +/- 4.0 percentage points (19 times out of 20).

About Robert Half

Founded in 1948, Robert Half (NYSE: RHI) is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm with more than 330 offices worldwide.  The company’s professional staffing divisions include Accountemps®, Robert Half® Finance & Accounting, and Robert Half® Management Resources, for temporary, full-time and project professionals, respectively, in the fields of accounting and finance; OfficeTeam®, for highly skilled temporary office support; Robert Half® Technology, for information technology professionals; Robert Half® Legal, for project and full-time staffing of attorneys, paralegals and legal support personnel; and The Creative Group®, for creative, advertising, marketing and web design professionals.  For more information about the specialized staffing and recruitment divisions of Robert Half, visit

 About is the nation’s largest online job site with more than 20 million unique visitors and over 1 million jobs. Owned by Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE: GCI), Tribune Company (NYSE: TRB), and Knight Ridder, Inc. (NYSE: KRI), the company offers a vast online and print network to help job seekers connect with employers. powers the career centers for more than 650 partners that reach national, local, industry and niche audiences. These include more than 165 newspapers and leading portals such as America Online and MSN. More than 30,000 of the nation’s top employers take advantage of’s easy job postings, 13 million-plus resumes, Diversity Channel and more. Millions of job seekers visit the site every month to search for opportunities by industry, location, company and job type, sign up for automatic email job alerts, and get advice on job hunting and career management. For more information about products and services, visit

Media Contacts:

Robert Half
Matthew Meigs     
(650) 234-6248 
Jennifer Sullivan
(773) 527-1164 



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