Robert Half Professional Employment Report: Executives Plan Moderate Increase in Professional-Level Hiring In Fourth Quarter

Sep 2, 2010 | Corporate Member News

Robert Half Professional Employment Report Finds Executives Continue to Be Confident in Prospects for Business Growth

Looking toward the final months of the year, 15 per cent of executives interviewed for the Robert Half Professional Employment Report ( said they expect to increase the number of full-time staff they employ in professional occupations in the fourth quarter. Five per cent anticipate declines, resulting in a net 10 per cent(1) increase in hiring activity, up two points from the third-quarter forecast.

Executives’ business optimism level remains high: 86 per cent of survey participants expressed at least some confidence in the growth prospects for their companies, rising slightly from 85 per cent reported in the third-quarter survey. The number of executives citing recruiting challenges declined, however, from 51 per cent in the third quarter to 40 per cent. 

Key Findings 

–   A net 10 per cent of executives plan to increase hiring in professional occupations in the fourth quarter of 2010.

–   Eighty-six per cent of executives said they are at least somewhat confident in their organizations’ ability to grow in the fourth quarter, including 35 per cent who are very confident.

–   Companies in the manufacturing sector expect the most active hiring in the fourth quarter, with a net 22 per cent of executives anticipating personnel additions.

–   The legal field is again expected to see the strongest hiring, with a net 46 per cent of respondents planning to increase staff levels.

–   Four in 10 executives(2) (40 per cent) said it is challenging to find skilled professionals today. 

The Robert Half Professional Employment Report is the first quarterly executive survey of its size and scope to focus exclusively on professional-level hiring. The survey is based on telephone interviews with more than 1,000 executives from a variety of fields(3) throughout Canada about their hiring plans and general level of optimism regarding the upcoming quarter.

“Companies that had postponed projects and subsequent hiring plans are now selectively adding full-time employees,” said Kathryn Bolt, president of Robert Half International’s Canadian operations. “With the improving economic climate, many businesses recognize that their teams have been stretched thin and are hiring to maintain high service levels and boost the morale of existing staff.”

Bolt added, “Executives continue to express confidence in their companies’ prospects but are challenged in finding employees with the requisite skills for their open roles. Many firms are benefiting from the experience of interim professionals with the added advantage of keeping personnel costs variable until a full-time hire can be made.”

Professional-Level Hiring — By Industry

Executives in the manufacturing sector anticipate the most professional-level hiring in the fourth quarter, with a net 22 per cent anticipating increases in personnel levels. The projected hiring increase for this sector is up six points from the third-quarter survey. The business services and finance, insurance and real estate sectors also anticipate above-average forecasts, with 21 per cent and 18 per cent, respectively, planning on hiring before the end of the year.

Professional-Level Hiring — By Field

For the third consecutive quarter, respondents in the legal profession forecast the strongest hiring activity of all fields, with 46 per cent of lawyers projecting staff increases and none anticipating declines. Sales and business development and human resources are also optimistic about their fourth-quarter hiring plans, with a net 15 per cent and 14 per cent, respectively, planning on adding staff.

“The net hiring increase across every professional occupation surveyed is indication that companies are cautiously optimistic about their prospects going into the fourth quarter,” noted Bolt. “The legal profession, in particular, is seeing increased demand in the litigation, corporate law and intellectual property practice areas.”

About Robert Half International

Founded in 1948, Robert Half International, the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm, is a recognized leader in professional staffing services. The company’s specialized staffing divisions include Accountemps(R), Robert Half(R) Finance & Accounting and Robert Half(R) Management Resources, for temporary, full-time and senior-level project professionals, respectively, in the fields of accounting and finance; OfficeTeam(R), for highly skilled temporary administrative support personnel; Robert Half(R) Technology, for information technology professionals; Robert Half(R) Legal, for legal personnel; and The Creative Group(R), for advertising, marketing and web professionals. Robert Half International has staffing and consulting operations in more than 400 locations worldwide. Find more information about our services at, and follow us on Twitter at RobertHalf_CAN. 


(1) Net percentages are the percentage of executives projecting increases in full-time employees minus the percentage expecting decreases.

(2) Respondents to this question included a total of 900 CFOs, CIOs, lawyers, and advertising and marketing executives.

(3) Survey respondents included more than 270 chief financial officers (CFOs); 270 chief information officers (CIOs); 150 senior human resources managers; 50 lawyers at law firms and 50 corporate lawyers; and 50 advertising executives and 200 marketing executives within Canada who have hiring authority. 

For further information: Linda Christensen, (416) 350-2330, [email protected]

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