Weekly Wrap: Survey Says Big Companies Bullish About 2012 Hiring

Sometimes, it seems impossible to get a fix on which way the economy and job market is headed.

Two cases in point:

  • April’s Labor Department jobs report shows, according to TLNT’s John Zappe, that hiring and job growth remains sluggish and that, “The numbers offered more evidence that the becalmed recovery isn’t about to spark, but neither is it about to slip backwards.”
  • A new study sponsored by Allied Van Lines that says that, “Corporate recruiting is moving into high gear, with two-thirds of HR professionals reporting that they have “extensive” or “moderate” plans for hiring in 2012.”

Survey highlights

Which one of these reports do you follow? Is hiring moving slowly, or do the future trends show that there are better days (and more jobs) just over the horizon?

You can read the TLNT coverage of the latest national jobs report here, but keep in mind that it is a backward-looking report that simply tells you how things were last month, not where they might be going. The 2012 Allied Workforce Mobility Survey, on the other hand, is more of a forecast because it captures “the voice of 500 HR professionals on critical topics related to workforce mobility,” and that’s a key indicator of future hiring trends.

If you’re interested in surveys like this, you should dig into the 2012 Allied Workforce Mobility Survey yourself, but here are some of the intriguing highlights:

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  • The larger the company, the more bullish they are about their 2012 hiring activity. Among larger companies ( defined as 10,000 plus employees), some 80 percent say they are planning for extensive or moderate activity this year.
  • Many companies aren’t ready for a competitive hiring situation. Nearly one-third of all respondents describe their companies as having no recruitment plans or limited plans for 2012 hiring. And, 52 percent of HR professionals say their recruiting programs are only “somewhat successful.”
  • Close to two-thirds (59 percent) of the respondents say the current economic context has had “no impact” on their ability to recruit and hire. One in five (21 percent) reported that it’s actually having a positive impact.
  • Even “highly successful” recruiting programs lose nearly one-quarter of their top candidates during the process, and more than one-quarter of respondents say they secure only 50 percent of their top candidates.
  • Most HR professionals do not view recruiting incentives at their companies as strengths. For example, only 27 percent rated their firm’s health care benefits as a “5” (on a scale of 1-5, “5” being a strength and “1” being a weakness). And yet, health care benefits are rated the strongest recruiting assets companies have. In addition, one-third of respondents rated their company’s lifestyle benefits as a weakness, and 15 percent rated relocation packages a weakness.
  • HR professionals feel the best sources for candidates are right down the hall or across the parking lot. Respondents rated employee referrals and internal recruiter referrals as the best sources for candidates — rated “good” or “excellent” by 74 percent and 66 percent of HR professionals, respectively.
  • Despite the hype, HR pros aren’t sold on social media as a recruiting tool. Only 38 percent rate social media as a good or excellent source. In fact, nearly two-thirds of HR professionals (62 percent) rate social media sites as “poor” or “fair” for recruiting, and many respondents said they do not use social media for recruitment at all. Others said they are studying social media sites and developing strategies so they can include them in their recruitment efforts.
  • Overall, companies say they spend on average $10,731 per hire, taking on average 51 days to fill an open position.

An “ex-HR exec tells all”

Do you see a trend here? I certainly don’t, and although there are positive signs that you can take from both the 2012 Allied Workforce Mobility Survey and the national jobs report for April, it’s clear that HR and hiring managers are struggling to get a fix on where the rest of 2012 is going, too.

Of course, there’s a lot more going on this week than the mixed message about which way the national economy is headed. Here are some HR and workplace-related items you may have missed. This is TLNT’s weekly round-up of news, trends, and insights from the world of talent management. I do it so you don’t have to.

  • Fun with employee handbooks. Yes, you probably will agree that most employee handbooks are so terribly dull and dry. But what if we tried to spice them up and make them a bit more fun and whimsical? Well, Fast Company shows how video game make Valve is doing just that. “Valve … hires at least two or three new people each month, according to product designer and founding team member Greg Coomer. He says bewildered newbies used to take six months to acclimate to the company’s nontraditional culture and “flat” management structure. …So a group of Valvers cobbled together a survival guide, complete with mock org-charts and drawings of gun-belted video game characters cooking dinner. The book immediately leaked to the Internet, evoking headlines like “It’s Amazing” and reviews declaring Valve the “best company ever.” More importantly for Valve, the book’s already helped shorten the time hires take to assimilate into the company culture.”
  • Food is a big deal at Google. Life is very different if you work in Silicon Valley, and nowhere is that more true than at Google. San Jose Mercury News columnist Mike Cassidy reports on the search engine giant’s food culture that keeps employees fed and happy. “Silicon Valley has always run on its stomach,” he writes. “The all-night coding sessions, the lunches at desks and work benches. They’ve always been fueled by food. But now, as companies like Facebook, Zynga, Google, LinkedIn and others battle it out for engineers, Silicon Valley has launched something of a high-tech “Hunger Games.” Charlie Ayers, who was hired as Google’s first company chef in 1999, says food is definitely a competitive weapon in Silicon Valley’s hiring wars. Free food isn’t enough anymore — and hasn’t been for years. Now you need great free food, lots of it and lots of variety.”
  • The world’s biggest HR pro? A few years ago, when he announced that he was going to get a doctorate in HR, I labeled Shaquille O’Neal “the world’s biggest HR pro.” Well, according to The Miami Herald, now he’s gone and done it. “More than 1,100 students will graduate from Barry University on Saturday, but only one will be wearing a custom-made size-XXXL gown — seven-foot-one, 325-pound Shaquille O’Neal, the former NBA superstar. … O’Neal spent the past 4?1/2 years working toward his degree in organizational learning and leadership, with a specialization in human resource development. … “I consider myself an expert on leadership from all the years leading in the locker room, but I wanted to become a professional practitioner in the field of leadership,” he said. “I want to be an African-American version of Tony Robbins, a motivational speaker who can go into Fortune 500 companies and teach them how to get better.’’
  • Are all HR departments filled with idiots? This blog post at Talent HQ raises that question and then shoots it down, but it is pegged to an ABC News 20/20 report that talks to a former HR professional (now — surprise! — a consultant) titled Confessions from the Corner Office, Ex-HR Exec Tells All. If you work in HR, or management, and wonder why so many people have so many bad things to say about the talent management side of organizational operations, well, this ABC News report may give you a little more insight into that. And be forewarned: you may find yourself infuriated about what this former HR pro has to say.


John Hollon is managing editor of Fuel50, an AI Opportunity Marketplace solution that delivers internal talent mobility and workforce reskilling. He's also the former founding editor of TLNT and a frequent contributor to ERE and the Fistful of Talent blog.