The unemployment rate for professionals – typically white-collar, salaried, college-educated workers – has held fairly steady as the overall unemployment rate hovers around 9 percent.
Recruiters say times are getting better.
“How’s business? We’re busy,” said Linda Starling, a Puyallupbased national recruiter and field-support officer with MRI Network, an international search firm.
She and other recruiters watch for candidates who would fit into positions as executives, managers, supervisors and other professionals. Their clients work in sectors ranging from health care to high tech, and from the financial to the legal arenas.
These days, Starling spends much of her time training personnel in regional offices. She was recently in Lakewood with Len Holmes, managing director of The Lakewood Group, an MRI affiliate.
“We’re matchmakers. We’re talent scouts,” Holmes said.
“It is presenting to a possible candidate an opportunity that can change their lives,” said Starling. “We help clients hire the right candidates – important players. We go out and recruit people who are very happy in their jobs.”
People leave their jobs for three main reasons, she said: “I need more money, I need to improve my lifestyle, I need to look at accelerating my career path.”
By her count, the latest unemployment rate for professionals is down. In fact, August data from he Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the rate fell 0.5 percent over the past year.
Josh Warborg, district president of the staffing and recruiting firm Robert Half International, on Monday echoed Starling and Holmes.
“Business is good,” he said. “We’re seeing markedly better numbers, across the board. We’re involved in placing temporary workers as well as full-time.”
He said his company saw signs of a recovery “as long ago as a year ago, where companies were starting to add again to their full-time payrolls.”
Nationally, he said, Robert Half is seeing “a larger percentage of companies trying to add staff. Last year, 3 percent were adding. This quarter, 6 percent are planning to add.”
In a recent survey of business executives, he said 86 percent had confidence in business growth. Nearly half said they were having difficulty recruiting qualified staff.
Among the key findings in Washington, he said 22 percent of executives plan to increase staff levels; 2 percent planned to decrease and 75 percent foresaw no immediate change. And 34 percent of executives in Washington said they were finding it a challenge to find new staff.
“It told me that people need to be spending more time trying to find qualified candidates,” he said. “The more optimistic people are, the more employment continues to grow.”
Said Starling, “Your best friend should be a recruiter.”