There are encouraging signs that the US jobs market is finally picking up as a new survey finds that more than half of employers are planning to hire full-time employees over the next year.
In the surest sign yet that employers feel the worst is now behind them, technology, customer service and sales are the top three areas in which they expect to recruit new staff, the survey by Robert Half International and CareerBuilder.com found.
Just over half (53 per cent) the employers questioned said that they expect to hire full-time staff over the next year, while four out of 10 will hire contract, temporary or project professionals and a similar proportion will be in the market for part-time workers.
But despite official figures showing that some 14.5 million U.S. workers are currently without jobs, the many employers reported difficulty in finding people with the right skills to fill openings. recruiter sad that four out of every 10 resumes they receive are from unqualified candidates.
Indeed, almost half the hiring managers quizzed said that under-qualified applicants are their most common hiring challenge, followed by the reluctance of qualified candidates to leave secure positions (22 percent).
The difficulty in finding the right staff explains why so many employer Ė six out of 10- are prepared to negotiate higher pay with qualified candidates despite the fragile jobs market and uncertain economic climate.
And it isn't just new staff who will be playing hard-ball. Half the workers polled for the survey also said that as the economy improves, the most effective way to keep them on board will be through pay increases Ė and almost three out of 10 plan to ask for a raise outright.
Four out of 10 hiring managers also said when the economy improves, pay raises will be their primary method for keeping their top employees.
But will that be enough? Last month, research by consultancy Deloitte warned that the end of the recession would see a 'resume tsunami' as staff who had stuck out in jobs they were dissatisfied with seek new opportunities.
Meanwhile, firms who imposed over-zealous layoffs and communicated poorly with the staff who remained could end in a situation come the upturn where the only people they have left are precisely those they wouldn't have minded losing anyway.
So for hiring managers and recruiters, the message seems to be to expect a rough ride. The watchword for the US jobs market over the next year will be "volatility".