HR Hiring: What Does Growth in HR Job Postings Mean for Recruiters?

HR Hiring: What Does Growth in HR Job Postings Mean for Recruiters?

Emily Smykal

Growth in hiring may be speeding up, but it is not yet keeping pace with the increasing number of job openings. Last month’s jobs report revealed a monthly average of 218,000 employment gains this fall. But if you look closer, the number of job openings and the number of hires don’t quite match up. In fact, February 2015 marked the first time in over 15 years that the number of job openings began climbing steadily above hires.

Rising job openings is great news for many job seekers, especially those working in human resources. This often overlooked specialty has seen monthly job postings grow by 69% over the last four years. And the demand for HR staff hasn’t been limited to one specific industry or region.

As the job market is shifting to favor job seekers, we can see more clearly the industries and career paths that are experiencing the most growth. Human resources candidates are unsurprisingly in demand as employers need HR staff to manage their hiring demands and other aspects of people and operations. In this post we’ll examine the changing state of hiring in the U.S. and what this means for HR, recruiters, and job seekers alike.

The Number of Hires vs. the Number of Job Openings

Job openings and the hiring rate typically rise and fall in tandem, responding to a variety of economic conditions. Since 2000, the number of total non-farm hires has remained above the total non-farm job openings (with the exception of August 2014). Even during the recessions that began in 2001 and late 2007, hiring volume remained above job openings. But in 2014 these figures began to converge, and we now have a labor market in the U.S. where hiring is not keeping up with employers’ demands:

job openings vs hires
What has caused this reversal in hiring trends? Changing economic conditions, shifting demographics, new technologies replacing some jobs and creating others–there are numerous answers to that question. And we can’t say for sure that the level of job openings will remain above the hiring rate going forward. What we can do is identify the industries that are adding the most jobs and hiring the most people.

The fastest growing occupations–those experiencing the largest rate of change–occur in many of the sectors we’ve discussed before. Wind turbine technicians and web developers, physical therapists and nurse practitioners, statisticians, interpreters and translators are just a few examples of occupations experiencing growth. Last month alone we saw hiring gains in construction, food and drink, retail, professional and technical services, and health care.

HR Employees Are In Demand

Regardless of where job gains are occurring, human resources staff will also find themselves in demand. How else can employers fill their growing number of open positions and keep pace with the HR support needed? New HR technologies may be leveling the playing field for many, but you still need some HR staff to support and improve the strategy as well as to execute on all aspects of people operations.

One reason why job openings now outnumber new hires may be that HR staffing is not increasing as fast as the overall hiring demand. (It could also be due to skills shortages and mismatches in the location of available workers for available jobs, but we’ll save that argument for another time.) There simply may not be enough recruiters and HR managers in place to source and ultimately hire candidates as fast as employers would like.

As Wanted Analytics reports, there were roughly 16,500 openings for HR and related positions already this month, with the greatest demand coming from companies in health care, retail, education and insurance. Software giant Oracle has over 1,400 available jobs in HR, and Amazon has 745. And the kinds of HR jobs available are not limited to one type of candidate:

hr positions posted in 2015

What This Means for Recruiters

First, let’s discuss these hiring trends in relation to open human resources jobs. If you’re looking for candidates who will be an asset to your overall talent acquisition strategy, it would help to have that strategy clearly defined in the first place. Do you have a seat at the table when it comes to organizational decision making? Are you investing in other aspects of recruiting besides HR staff? Knowing your needs, and those of your company, will help you identify the best candidates for your HR jobs.

Beyond available jobs in HR, what about rising job openings in general? The national average time to fill a job is near peak levels, and some see a lack of qualified candidates creating a bottleneck in hiring. But the hiring rate will differ depending on the industry. The national average hiring rate was 3.6% in October, but during that month it ranged from 6.3% in leisure and hospitality to 1.9% in manufacturing of durable goods.

Whether your organization is experiencing low or high employment growth, there is one strategy all talent acquisition teams should remember: be the company people want to work for. Shifting economic conditions and federal data points should not change the fact that you want to hire the best candidates. Which means you need to convince job seekers you’re the best company to work for. Consider your employer brand and your candidate experience–are they poised to attract the most qualified candidates, regardless of changes in the labor market?

If you’re interested in learning more about the research shared in this post, follow the button below or click here for a deeper analysis of the future of analytics in recruiting.

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