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Hiring in 2016: Our Recruiters’ Predictions (Part 1 of 2)

More than 60 percent of The HT Group recruiters have seen a hiring increase in 2015, with a majority of those recruiters predicting the trend will continue in 2016. This finding is from an informal survey of 20 recruiters—including staffing specialists and executive headhunters—from across The HT Group’s four branches in Austin, Beaumont, Port Arthur and Orange, Texas.

“The HT Group and many of our clients have seen large headcount growth since the economic turnaround,” The HT Group Director of Operations, Clint Hawkins, says.  “We are at a point in Texas where there is a definite talent shortage for several areas, including tech-, engineering- and management-related job vacancies.”

We asked The HT Group recruiters to give us a pulse on what they’ve seen in 2015 and what they predict for 2016 in the areas of job growth and competition as well as other recruiting trends. Here’s what they had to say.

Hiring Will Remain Strong

As stated earlier, more than 60 percent of The HT Group recruiters have seen a hiring increase in 2015, with a majority of those recruiters predicting the trend will continue in 2016. Software development, engineering and manufacturing are three areas our recruiters identified as having the most continued growth through 2016. The main reason appears to be new companies that continue to move to Texas, particularly into the Austin area. However, even in areas like software development, engineering and manufacturing, economic factors may affect the rate of job growth to some extent.

“The [hiring] trend will continue for most of 2016 but, at some point soon, interest rates will be adjusted upward and there will be at least a marginal market correction. Hiring will continue to be strong, GDP and job numbers will be solid, but there may be a reduction in the growth rates,” predicts The HT Group Technical Recruiter, Joseph Huckobey.

Other recruiters have seen the oil and gas slump affect hiring in southeast Texas, while budget cuts and a new purchasing law driven by Senate Bill SB20 for state government agencies are slowing hiring in Austin. But, for the most part, hiring remains strong as long as Texas continues to attract and keep employers.

“In Austin, the tech market is still really strong,” Hawkins explains. “In Beaumont and Lake Charles, we still see a strong need for skilled trades such as welders, fabricators and related manufacturing jobs.  We hope that the Texas market is diversified enough to continue to stay strong in the face of current and future oil prices.”

Competition for Top Talent Is Heating Up

Think competition for top talent couldn’t get fiercer? Think again. About 60 percent of The HT Group recruiters we asked said that job candidates are turning down offers at the same rate or even more often than in the past.

“We are in a highly competitive market where candidates know they have options,” explains The HT Group Staffing Manager, Monica Cauley. “We have candidates getting multiple job offers in a week [now].”

“It’s a very competitive market,” agrees The HT Group Senior Staffing Manager, Megan Coates. “Candidates have several offers coming at them at once. Most likely they are going to take the offer that pays the most; I’ve seen more counter offers in the past few years.”

Huckoby adds to the perspective by explaining how the hiring process for top talent—particularly for software developers and engineers—has accelerated:

“Just in the last year I’ve seen candidates come into and exit the market in smaller and smaller windows. Previously, a candidate would be on the market for a week or two before having interviews in their pipeline. Then, they would typically interview with five or six companies before coming up with a suitable offer. Over the last year, the trend has been that a candidate has a full interview schedule in a matter of days rather than weeks,” he explains, adding the salaries being offered are improving as well. A good offer isn’t enough. It needs to be the best offer in order to win over the candidate.

Employers Are Willing to Look Outside of Texas

One-third of The HT Group recruiters have noticed recruiting budgets including relocation are ramping up for 2016 for specific niche jobs, despite the sheer number of people already moving to the Lone Star State. Those specific jobs usually include software development or engineering: Two fields that continue to have more demand than candidates.

An interesting note, however: Many of the recruiters pointed out that while Austin is one area in need of high-demand, niche software developers, it is also a very desirable place to live. Many candidates continue to move to Austin without requesting relocation assistance, while other areas of Texas may need to sweeten the pot. However, warns The HT Group Executive Recruiter, Michelle Hill, be aware that job candidates can spot good (and not-so-good) deals when they see them.

“I find candidates are more skeptical these days to relocate because the packages offered are more lateral then a step up,” Hill says. “[It] goes back to clients not wanting to pay market value for the new skill sets they seek.”

Stay Tuned for More Predictions

In addition to feedback on these major hiring issues, The HT Group recruiters offered individual predictions for hiring in 2016. Stay tuned in January for part 2 of this two-part series. In the meantime, comment here with your own predictions. We can’t wait to hear from you!

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