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Global Hiring Picture Cloudy as New Year Approaches

November 12, 2007
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A struggling global economy and skyrocketing petroleum prices could be taking a toll on hiring, suggests a new report from management consulting firm McKinsey & Co.

“The McKinsey Global Survey of Business Executives: Economic and Hiring Outlook, Third Quarter” notes 42 percent of the 2,687 executives who participated in the study say that for the short term, they expect to hire new workers. The figures paint a generally positive hiring outlook, but they are 5 percent lower than when the quarterly survey was administered in June.

HR experts caution that hiring practices could change in January when new corporate budgets traditionally kick in.

“The hiring budgets for 2008 could look a lot different,” says John Sullivan, a human resources consultant and professor of management at San Francisco State University’s College of Business.

McKinsey’s third-quarter survey was taken in September, when some employers are preparing for the holiday season.

“For retailers and hospitality companies in particular, this is the biggest hiring time,” Sullivan says. “The talent-acquisition spree that’s taking place in these sectors could be creating a distorted hiring picture.”

There is usually a lag between an economy’s cooling off and employers adjusting their hiring projections, explains Jonathan Duarte, president and CEO of Go Jobs Inc., a job board and recruiting consultancy in Orange, California.

“There is a natural trickle-down process that needs to take place before we can tell what is truly going on,” Duarte says.

For now, employers aren’t planning on aggressively expanding headcount overseas, according to McKinsey. More than half of survey respondents, 55 percent, say new jobs will be created in the same country where their companies are headquartered.

Sullivan says offshoring has tapered off, not only because sending operations overseas isn’t as cost-effective as it used to be but also because some employers have had bad experiences with the quality of the work and services from outsourcing partners. 

The search for talent will vary, depending on the region involved, the survey notes. Employers in the Asia-Pacific region, where India and China continue to grow, will most likely continue to expand next year, as 47 percent of respondents from this area say they will boost hiring. Just 36 percent of survey participants from Europe plan to add staff.

—Gina Ruiz

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