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Trending in Human Resources: A Glimpse into the Boston Job Market

We sat down with Sara Ferraioli, WinterWyman (now Planet Professional) Recruiting and Human Resources expert, to get a feel for the talent pool and what’s trending in the HR hiring market. Sara shares her observations, experiences and recommendations, and what she is anticipating in the coming months.

What is the overall health of the New England Human Resources job market?

As has been the case for the past few years, we are amid a very strong and healthy HR job market. The demand for candidates is at an all-time high, and companies are looking to hire HR professionals in all areas and at all levels. This is particularly good news for job seekers. This does mean, however, that hiring managers will have their work cut out for them when trying to secure top talent.

What are the most requested jobs and skills your clients are looking to fill?

Definitely recruiters! Technical recruiters, life science recruiters, high volume recruiters, contract recruiters – really all recruiters at any level and in all areas. HR Coordinators and HR Administrators are a close second. I’d say the titles and skills that come up most are HR Business Partners, Generalists, Managers, Benefits, Comp and HRIS. Also, Workday continues to be a hot technology.

What are your thoughts regarding HR area salaries?

HR salaries will continue to be competitive and candidates are driving the pay rates. We are seeing a lot of competitive offers and counteroffers. We encourage hiring managers to really understand the salary landscape as they begin their recruiting process – it will ease some of the challenges of securing talent and help them to be more competitive from the start.

What advice do you have for hiring companies looking for HR professionals?

Employers who are willing to be more flexible with their candidate profiles are securing great talent they may not have considered in the past – and they are pleased with the results! These candidates are performing and getting the job done. My advice is to take a step back from your list of must-haves and find places where you can be open to a candidate who may fall outside. For example, someone who is not currently employed, or who may not have done the job yet, but clearly has the potential to be successful.

What are you seeing with temp to perm hiring?

The “try before you buy” model in HR is still a highly sought-after preference. We see it more with the individual contributor role than the senior level where changes in management can be more disruptive. Clients will often use this model when hiring recruiters. They can see how the person performs for a set amount of time. But, it’s not just for clients – many of our job seekers want to get the inside perspective of a company before making a long-term commitment.

What are HR candidates looking for?

In addition to strong benefits and highly competitive salaries, job seekers are looking for progressive companies with a great culture. They also want flexibility in terms of work-from-home and varying hours. HR candidates are brand conscious – they care about the company, its reputation, what it does and what it stands for. Opportunities for growth and advancement also top the list.

The clients that are hiring the best talent – what are they doing right?

The companies that are getting more candidates to say “yes” to their offers are moving fast. Job seekers have many options, so the turnaround time to hire needs to happen quickly. Companies that wait too long to make a hiring decision are losing out on their first choices.

Not all companies are positioned to hire fast – what can they do to improve their outcomes?

I hate having to tell a client they lost a candidate due to timing, especially when both parties were truly interested, but it happens. If a company knows the process takes longer (and there isn’t a lot they can do to speed it up), I always recommend being highly communicative. You’ll have better odds of retaining your first-choice candidate if you are transparent about your process, responsive when they reach out and in touch on a very regular basis. When the communication stops, the candidates drop off.

How is social media affecting recruiting in your industry?

If your company is not visible on social media, candidates are less interested. Your positive presence on some of the major social platforms (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) with a variety of content will sell your company. A negative presence, or no presence at all, raises red flags to job seekers. Your social brand really needs to be attended to in this hiring market.

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