May 2009: Managerial Hiring Shows Signs of Recovery

May 2009: Managerial Hiring Shows Signs of Recovery

Author Employment Index

The number of online job postings for U.S. managers and executives rose for the first time last month since November, a sign that hiring activity for salaried professionals is finally starting to improve.

The Employment Index, a new hiring index that measures managerial recruitment activity nationally, found that the number of job openings posted online for C-level, VP, director and other salaried candidates had an index value of 56.6 in May 2009, up from 41.4 in April 2009. The index uses data from each matching month of 2007 as its base, with monthly index values for that year equaling 100.

"The data shows that after a long drought, there's been a healthy uptick in demand for managers and executives," says Tony Lee, publisher of "This positive trend could indicate the beginning of a reversal of our economic downturn, as companies find that they can't wait any longer to fill vacant managerial positions." However, despite the recent improvement, managerial job postings are still down 41% from May 2008, when they posted an index value of 95.8.

Susan Murphy can attest to the improving market for executive job hunters. Ms. Murphy (not her real name) lost her job in January managing a customer service center at a Philadelphia-area auto dealership. She quickly discovered that similar jobs in the auto industry were non-existent, so she started focusing on jobs in other sectors. She says she averaged two interviews a week from February through April, but the only offers she received required a step back into customer service as a representative with a large pay cut. Her search ended in May, however, when she accepted a position as a manager of residential housing at a nearby university. She says networking with colleagues led to the opportunity, which she thinks she landed due to her ability to keep customers – in this case students – satisfied even when problems arise, a skill she says will work well in a college environment.

The Serf Employment Index is an exclusive barometer showing the change in managerial job openings posted online. The Index reveals the differences in job listings by month, and offers trends and forecasts using proprietary employment data gathered by a team of researchers. For more information on how we gather and process our month-by-month data, please consult the Employment Index Methodology.

"Since last September, there had been a rapid deterioration in the volume of managerial jobs online," says Jay Martin, JobSerf's chairman. "However, May's gain in the Index almost completely recovered the past three months of losses, and in the Northeast and Southeast, job-posting activity is already back to the same levels they were in January."

The slowest regions of the country to recover have been the Midwest and Western states, which have seen only about 60% of the gains experienced by the rest of the nation. In comparing metropolitan areas, the Washington, D.C., area remained the highest of the major cities evaluated, reporting about eight times as many job listings online per capita as compared to the lowest, which was Detroit.

What makes the index unique is that it measures job postings across a wide range of different online job boards and job search engines, not just one or two of the largest boards. In addition, each listing is manually analyzed and verified to be a legitimate job opening. A typical month's count includes more than one million job listings tracked by the JobSerf research team.

"In our discussions with both corporate and executive recruiters, it's clear that demand is rising for managers who can fill the holes left by layoffs, attrition and delayed hiring," says Lee. "The majority of employers are seeing rising revenues – or at least an end to falling revenues – which signals that it's time to start competing again for top managerial talent."

Complete information on the Employment Index's findings can be found in our detailed scoring pages:


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