Only 23 percent of employers plan to hire full- time employees in 2012, lower to what was expected for 2011 at 24 percent, according to a nationwide survey conducted by CareerBuilder from Nov.9 to Dec. 5.

The survey included answers from more than 3,000 hiring managers and human resource professionals across all industries and company sizes.

“The hiring outlook for 2012 remains cautiously optimistic,” said CareerBuilder in a statement.

CareerBuilder CEO Matt Ferguson said that historically, the company’s surveys have shown employers to be more conservative in their predictions than in actual hiring, and he expects that the new year will bring more hires than in 2011.

“Barring any major economic upsets, we expect 2012 to bring a better hiring picture than 2011, especially in the second half of the year. Many companies have been operating lean and have already pushed productivity limits. We’re likely to see gradual improvements in hiring across categories as companies respond to increased market demands,” Ferguson added.

More than half of employers anticipate no change in their staff headcount, but some are unsure.

Seven percent of employers expect to reduce the number of current employees in 2012, the same as for 2011 which is an improvement from nine percent back in 2010. Fifty-nine percent of employers expect no change in staff numbers and 11 percent are unsure.


While the general hiring trend appears to be bleak for 2012, small businesses reported more confidence in both hiring and retaining headcount in the next year. Predicted downsizing dropped by two percentage points across all small business sectors and projected hiring also rose by two percentage points.


Similar to annual projections for the last two years, regional data presented a mixed picture. According to the survey more employers in the West plan to hire new employees in 2012 than any other region. Twenty-four percent of employers from the West plan on adding full-time employees, 23 percent of employers from both the South and Midwest plan to hire, and 21 percent of Northeast employers plan on hiring.

The West also has a greater percentage of companies planning to downsize in 2012 at about nine percent, the Northeast at eight percent, the South at seven percent, and the Midwest at 6 percent.


Compensation levels are expected to increase for both current and prospective employees. About 62 percent of employers plan to increase compensation for existing staff while 32 percent will offer higher starting salaries for new employees.

Employers expect that the greatest compensation will be given to areas like sales at 24 percent, information technology at 20 percent, engineering at 14 percent and business development at 14 percent.


More than a third of human resource managers reported that voluntary turnover increased in 2011. Sixty-two percent of employers cited desire for higher compensation and 40 percent cited feeling overworked as the top two reasons employees gave for resigning.

Around 30 percent of employers reported that they lost top performers to other organizations in 2011, and 43 percent are concerned that their top talent may jump ship in the New Year.


As the demand for skilled positions is growing faster than supply, many employers are bridge the skill gap by training new hires. Sixty- two percent of employers say that they plan to train workers who don’t have experience in their organizations’ particular industry.


Many employers are aware of benefits diversity can bring to their companies, 29 percent say they will be focused on recruiting diverse workers, and 20 percent will target Hispanic, African American and women employees to work for their organizations. Forty-four percent plan on hiring bilingual workers in the coming year.