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Canadian Quarterly Employment Trends With Anna Montesano of Robert Half International

On March 8, 2010, Robert Half International released their first Professional Employment Report. The report is a quarterly executive survey focusing exclusively on professional-level hiring.

The survey indicated that 15% of employers surveyed plan to add staff in the coming three months in professional occupations, such as accounting, finance and information technology (IT). While, 86% per cent of executives interviewed expressed confidence in their companies’ prospects for growth in the next quarter. The survey also indicated that executives in the finance, insurance and real estate and transportation industries plan to do the most hiring of professional staff, with a net 33 per cent of respondents from each sector projecting hiring increases. Lastly, it was reported that nearly half of executives (48 per cent) said it is challenging to find skilled professionals today.

Robert Half International Professional Employment Report Q1 2010 Survey Results

Wanting to dig a little deeper into these findings, I arranged for an interview with Anna Montesano, Branch Manager with Robert Half International in Vancouver, Canada.

Anna Montesano, Branch Manager with Robert Half International in Vancouver, Canada

Biography: Anna Montesano is the branch manager for Robert Half International (RHI: NYSE), the world’s first and largest specialized staffing firm. Anna is skilled in recruiting and interviewing candidates, speaking to clients to determine their staffing needs, training and developing internal staff and managing branch operations.

Anna has ten years of experience in the staffing and recruitment industry and is thoroughly familiar with the staffing skills that are currently in demand. She is an expert in employment trends within the administrative and accounting fields. Additionally, Anna is a tenured spokesperson and has contributed to local and national print and broadcast media.

Q: What do you think is the reason behind so many survey respondents (48%) indicating that recruiting skilled professionals might be a challenge? Did the recession not leave a number of skilled professionals without a job?

A: Despite a high unemployment rate, recruiting for certain skill sets can pose a real challenge in this environment.

- Many companies are looking for people with very specific, high-demand skills sets, and these people may be reluctant to leave stable positions.
- Employers are being inundated with resumes – many of them from applicants who don’t meet their qualifications.
- Companies are very cautious and are looking for people with precise skill sets. They want to capitalize on the talent pool available and are very selective when hiring.

Additionally, the unemployment rate for certain areas of professional employment are much below the general unemployment rate. For instance, in February, the Canadian rate for occupations in the “business, finance and administrative” area, the rate is 4.4% compared to the general rate of 8.2%.

Q: One wouldn’t normally picture the transportation industry as being one of the industries that expects to do the most hiring going forward – in what way do you think the last 1 to 2 years affected the professional level staff in the transportation industry? Do you mind breaking down the different areas in the transportation sector that are exhibiting these hiring intentions?

A: What is defined as the “transportation sector” actually comprises the transportation, communications, electric, gas and sanitary sub-industries. As such, the demand has been driven by public sector hiring by municipalities and government. These areas have been faring well in recent months and according to the latest Statistics Canada Labour Force Survey, the public sector added 46,000 in February alone. Executives in these industries are therefore confident in their projections for growth in the upcoming quarter.

Q: Compliance managers sand financial reporting specialists were explicitly mentioned as being in high demand. One might think that these jobs are mighty integral to the financial services and real estate sector and wouldn’t have seen significant layoffs (I mean, a company cant not have a compliance manager or financial report specialist – can they?) so why then would these profession be in such great demand?

A: Publicly-accountable organizations (including publicly-traded companies and financial institutions) have been mandated to convert to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) by January 2011. For many companies this skill set does not currently exist in-house, and they have had to look externally for these professionals.

Q: The retail sector does seem to be exhibiting much demand in the way of hiring skilled professionals, why do you think that is? It would stand to reason that retail is perhaps one of the most economically sensitive sectors and may have borne the brunt of layoffs but the survey only indicates a hiring demand of 13% in this sector – why is that? What might this finding say about the economic activity in Canada?

A: While I am not an economist, we have been seeing additional demand for professionals from companies within the retail sector and thirteen per cent hiring in one quarter is actually a strong demand. Still, some companies are waiting for further evidence of the economy rebounding before adding additional full-time staff.

Q: Lastly, with regards to companies hiring temporary, contract, or project professionals – has this trend been rising, falling or leveling off? Are there any particular sectors that are hiring temporary, contract, or project professionals more/less than other sectors?

A: We have seen an uptick in demand for temporary professionals in a variety of sectors and it has been widespread. Often, growth in the temporary sector foreshadows general jobs growth.
- Many businesses reduced staff levels too deeply in their drive to cut costs and now need help. Although they may not be quite ready to add full-time employees, some companies are bringing in temporary professionals who can help them meet business demands.
- We’re also seeing an increase in temporary-to-hire activity in some areas as firms gauge their long-term hiring needs.
- Hiring temporary professionals allow employers to observe staff first hand to see if they are a good fit. If the position requires full-time status, employers commonly turn to professionals who succeeded in the role on a temporary basis.

Thank You Ms. Montesano!

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  • Jay Banks

    Thanks for all the answers, it was a good reading with a lot of useful and relevant information. I hope more interviews like this are about to come.

  • investingthesis

    Greetings Mr. Banks

    Thank you for your comment and kind words. I certainly intend to keep interviewing interesting and relevant people in an attempt to gain more insight and knowledge in subjects that I wouldn't normally be too familiar with.

  • Anonymous

    Greetings Mr. BanksnnThank you for your comment and kind words. I certainly intend to keep interviewing interesting and relevant people in an attempt to gain more insight and knowledge in subjects that I wouldn’t normally be too familiar with.nn

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