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Finding the best talent single greatest recruiting challenge, survey says

More than half of area firms surveyed expect number of full-time employees to increase in 2008


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By Northeast Human Resources Association

Finding the best talent is the single biggest challenge facing the region's human resource professionals in today's market. So say the results of a new survey by the Northeast Human Resources Association (NEHRA). The survey by NEHRA, the leading HR association in New England with nearly 3,500 members, was conducted to determine hiring trends of firms in the New England area and the northeast.

"Locating and hiring the best talent remains one of the biggest challenges facing firms in New England today," says Dan Henry, Chairman of the Board of NEHRA. "Relying heavily upon their internal recruiting staffs in the process, and turning to their own employees for referrals of quality job candidates continue to be the two most utilized tactics to meet this challenge," Henry continued.

Significantly, in a recessionary climate over 54% of firms polled anticipate the number of full-time employees to increase over the next year (down from last year's 65%). Another 37% expect to remain at the same staffing levels, and only 8.5% expect a decrease. The top five industries hiring according to the survey include high technology, financial services, professional services, manufacturing, and healthcare.

The majority of those hiring will add staff in the professional level, entry-level, and mid-management.

Over 71% of those polled expect recruiting budgets to remain the same as last year's, while 18% expect their recruiting budget to increase and 11% foresee a decrease. Last year's numbers were more positive, with 35% expecting to increase their budgets and only 6% expecting a decrease.

Those hiring will overwhelmingly use an internal recruiting staff, over 90%, as a staffing resource, followed by contingency search firms. Internal reference checks (83%) remain the most popular pre-employment screening tools followed by criminal record checks (67%) and background checks (64%). About a quarter of firms also reported using credit checks (27%) and drug testing (27%) as screening tools.

This year again, Internet job boards (91%) and employee referrals (89%) are most often used to identify applicants. Corporate websites (81%) also remained a top recruiting tool, followed by associations and other nonprofit organizations (58%) and college recruiting/internships (56%). Down on the list this year is print advertising (46%), which ranked third last year and sixth on the list this year.

More than 71% of organizations polled do not have a dedicated college recruiting or university relations program; only 28% reported that they do. This year over 50% of those surveyed reported using an ATS (Applicant Tracking System) or similar tool to manage the candidate flow process, an increase from last year's 45%.

Only 21% of organizations polled reported using post-hire surveys to assess and measure candidates' satisfaction. The majority of those that did conduct post-hire surveys did so within 30 days after a hire and most were interested in the hire's opinion on the interview process.

About NEHRA and the survey

Approximately 3,500 HR professionals, representing large and small companies in all industries within the northeast region, as well as individuals providing products and services to the human resources community, comprise NEHRA's membership base. A total of 224 NEHRA members responded to the online survey, which was conducted from January 25 - February 8, 2008.

For full survey results, visit NEHRA.com. (Note: Some percentages do not total 100% as multiple responses were allowed.)

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