Forecasting The Future: Employment Outlook For The Second Half Of 2014

What is the employment outlook for the rest of 2014? What trends can employers expect in the coming months and beyond? It varies across industries, experts and reports indicate.

Related: 2014 recruiting trends a look back a look ahead

A recent Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Report found that 90 percent of U.S. CIOs plan to hire in the last half of 2014. This is up seven points from the previous six months. In another report, 29 percent of lawyers said they will add new legal jobs in the second half of 2014, while 12 percent of advertising and marketing executives will expand their creative teams in the second half of 2014.

The consensus is recruiters, hiring managers and small businesses are gearing up for a robust second half of 2014. Employers are looking for talented professionals who can keep business moving forward and grow the company.  Does your company have its hiring plans in place? Is now the right time to hire? How do you know the right time to hire?

Putting the right people in place is often the key to success. That’s why many companies, in a wide variety of industries, are honing in on talented sales professionals. They want the prospector type of sales professional that can bring new business to their company, says Adam Hoffarber, Managing Director with SkyWater Search Partners (

“Even in times of slow economic growth, most companies continue to look for new business and that process follows in 2014 – we have seen an increase demand for technical sales representatives in industrial and the high tech sector,” says Hoffarber. “We’ve also witnessed an escalation in sales leadership roles. Much of this can be attributed to companies growing within strategic succession planning.”

Within the accounting and finance industry, manufacturing is still the hottest industry and that hasn’t changed since 2013, says Scott Sanders, Managing Director of SkyWater Search Partners. The hiring trend that is changing from last year is that things are going from an employer-leveraged market with a significant talent pool to a candidate leveraged market, says Sanders.

“There are fewer top-tier candidates available because of the hiring that has gone on in the past 24 months and companies are having to be more open on who they hire, realizing they may not get everything they wanted for the position, initially,” says Sanders. “Employers should move their hiring targets to the ‘best athlete’ in order to find the top talent locally. These are candidates who may have a steeper learning curve in the beginning (lacking industry expertise) but have the horsepower to excel once given the opportunity.”

Here is a deeper look at some industries heading into the second half of 2014

“Many IT departments will be focused for the remainder of this year on adding skilled technology professionals for newly created or existing open positions,” said John Reed, senior executive director of Robert Half Technology. “However, many organizations are likely to find it difficult to locate specialized talent, especially in the areas of applications development, networking and security.”

The hiring projections for the last six months of 2014 are based on interviews with more than 2,400 CIOs in 24 major U.S. markets. The surveys were developed by Robert Half Technology and conducted by an independent research firm. To ensure that companies from all segments were represented in the study, the sample was stratified by number of employees. The results were weighted to reflect the proper number of employees in the United States.

Recruiting Challenges
As for recruiting technology talent, 61 percent of U.S. CIOs said it is somewhat or very challenging to find skilled IT professionals. This is a 2-point drop compared to the first half of the year. Technology executives surveyed report that it is most difficult to find skilled talent in the functional areas of applications development (17 percent), networking (17 percent) and security (12 percent).

Confidence in Business Growth and IT Investments
The Robert Half Technology survey suggests that CIOs continue to have an optimistic outlook about their companies’ growth and plans for IT investments. Eighty-nine percent of CIOs reported being somewhat or very confident about their companies’ growth prospects for the last six months of 2014. This compares to 88 percent for the first half of the year.

Seventy-one percent of CIOs said they are confident that their firms will invest in IT projects in the next six months. This compares to 69 percent in the first half of 2014. Most of those upcoming investments will be in hardware upgrades (44 percent) and software upgrades (21 percent), according to the Robert Half Technology survey.

Skills in Demand
Fifty-seven percent of U.S. technology executives said that network administration tops the list of skills sets in greatest demand within their IT departments. This figure is unchanged from the previous survey. Database management and desktop support followed, each with 52 percent of the response.

Fifty-two percent of lawyers said they expect to only fill vacant posts, while 10 percent said they would neither fill vacant positions nor create new ones. Just two percent of respondents anticipate staff reductions in the next six months.

Litigation is expected to generate the greatest number of legal job opportunities in the second half of 2014, according to 42 percent of attorneys surveyed. Within the litigation practice area, insurance defense was cited by 31 percent of lawyers as the leading driver of job growth, followed by commercial litigation (30 percent).

The survey was developed by Robert Half Legal, a legal staffing and consulting services firm specializing in lawyers, paralegals and other highly skilled legal professionals. It was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on 200 telephone interviews with lawyers in the United States: 100 of the respondents are employed at law firms with 20 or more employees and 100 are employed at companies with 1,000 or more employees. All of the respondents have hiring authority within their organizations.

“Law firms are competing to secure new clientele and expand profitability,” said Charles Volkert, executive director of Robert Half Legal. “To succeed, they are seeking legal professionals who can help broaden their service offerings and spur business development.”

Employers are placing significant weight on experience and personal recommendations when recruiting candidates. Nearly half (49 percent) of respondents said previous work experience or prestige of a former law firm or company are the best indicators of a job applicant’s potential for success in their organizations. Twenty-one percent of lawyers pointed to a referral from a current employee or member of their networks as the primary indicator of success. “Top law firms and companies attract top talent so having prior work experience with an organization known for hiring great people can be an asset on a resume,” said Volkert.

 Advertising, marketing and creative
Twelve percent of advertising and marketing executives interviewed said they will expand their creative teams in the second half of 2014, according to new research from The Creative Group. Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) said their organizations plan to maintain current staff levels, up 16 points from six months ago, and 12 percent said they project hiring freezes, down 10 points from the first half of 2014. Only 3 percent of executives expect to reduce the size of their staff.

The national survey was developed by The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service for interactive, design, marketing, advertising and public relations professionals, and conducted by an independent research firm.

“Companies are investing more in marketing and advertising initiatives and are often turning to outside vendors for help. As a result, agencies are hiring full-time and project staff to keep up with expanding client needs,” said Diane Domeyer, executive director of The Creative Group. “While professionals with digital expertise continue to be in demand, agencies also are actively looking to fill traditional roles, like account directors and account managers.”

Key Findings
Twelve percent of advertising and marketing executives interviewed plan to add new positions in the last six months of 2014. Seventy-three percent anticipate maintaining current staff levels and 12 percent expect hiring freezes, down 10 points from six months ago. The fact that companies are lifting hiring freezes could be a sign of their growing confidence in business prospects and an improving economy.

Nearly one-quarter (24 percent) of marketing and advertising executives said it’s challenging to find skilled creative professionals today.

Midsize agencies (50-99 employees) are expected to see the most hiring activity, with 26 percent of advertising executives reporting they plan to add staff. However, they also report the greatest difficulty finding the talent they seek, with 40 percent of respondents saying it is somewhat or very challenging.

Account services, brand/product management and media services are the top areas executives plan to hire for during the second half of 2014.

Forecasting the Future: What lies ahead the next 10 years?
Below are the key findings from SHRM’s Challenges Facing HR Over the Next 10 Years survey, conducted by the Society of Human Resources Management ( Workplace Forecast:

What challenges will HR executives face over the next 10 years?
More than one-half of HR professionals think that retaining and rewarding the best employees (59%) and developing the next generation of corporate leaders (52%) will be the greatest challenges. About one-third predict the challenges will be creating a corporate culture that attracts the best employees to the organization (36%), remaining competitive in the talent marketplace (34%) and finding employees with the increasingly specialized skills the organization needs (33%). Compared with responses to this question in 2010, HR professionals are more concerned with developing future leaders and remaining competitive in the talent marketplace, whereas they are less concerned with finding employees in global markets and breaking down cultural barriers to create a truly global organization.

What will be the biggest investment challenge facing organizations in the next 10 years?
Forty-three percent of HR professionals see human capital as the biggest investment challenge. About one out of five think financial (22%) or technological (19%) capital will be most challenging. Fourteen percent expect intellectual capital to be the greatest challenge, and only 3% think it will be physical capital.

Which tactics will be most effective in attracting, retaining and rewarding the best employees over the next 10 years?

  • Providing flexible work arrangements (40%) and a culture of trust, open communication and fairness (37%) were the top two tactics in 2012 and 2010.
  • One-quarter said offering a higher total rewards package than competitors (26%) and providing career advancement opportunities (26%) would be most effective, whereas in 2010 the third most common response was meaningful work with clear purpose in meeting the organization’s objectives (40%).

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Matt Krumrie is a career columnist and professional resume writer who has been providing helpful information and resources for job seekers and employers for 15+ years. Learn more about Krumrie via, connect with him on LinkedIn ( and follow him on Twitter via @MattKrumrie.

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