National Hiring Outlook 2008

National Hiring Outlook 2008

John Rossheim /

You want a New Year’s prediction for the US labor market? Here you go: 2008 will be the year of the quant.

By quant, we mean not just quantitative analysts, those brainiacs of finance who drive many a hedge fund’s oversized returns — and occasionally help set off market crises like the recent mortgage-backed securities meltdown.

No, for 2008, we have the entire range of creative workers who excel in the logical and mathematical in mind, for they are in intense and increasing demand in fields like systems design, electronic engineering, accounting and, yes, finance.

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Read on to see how your corner of the economy will fare in the new year.

Finance and Accounting

And speaking of quantitative analysis, for financial number crunchers, the globalization of business means the internationalization of the war for their talent.

“The demand for accounting and tax professionals is outweighing resources, across the US and in China, the UK and Russia,” says Eileen Raymond, executive director of experienced-hire recruiting at accounting firm KPMG. “Next year will be consistent with 2007; we plan to hire several thousand employees. We’re looking for CPAs and professionals with advanced degrees, law degrees.”

And as demand for these services rises, new American entrants to the field are dwindling. “There are fewer and fewer students obtaining these degrees,” says Hope Wilson, a vice president at Snelling Professional Services.

IT Programming, Systems and Databases

Offshoring of some programming work notwithstanding, prospects for information technology employment in 2008 are basically strong.

“The mortgage industry and related businesses are taking a beating here in South Florida, but commercial property hasn’t been too bad,” says Steve Kalisher, executive vice president at recruiter Steven Douglas Associates, which places IT professionals ranging from programmers, database administrators and network administrators to CIOs. “There’s a lot of action in the service sector, and healthcare is big down here.”

Data warehousing and mining, IT security, networking, virtual computing and VOIP will be hot specialties in 2008, Kalisher says.

Says Helene Cruz, interim employer relations manager at Pace University, “I see an increase in the need for entry-level programmers and auditors in 2007 going into 2008. I don’t see offshoring hindering the requests we receive for these candidates.”


Another profession that’s suffering from a lack of new graduates will be sought after in 2008. “Engineers across the board are in high demand, and engineering grads are harder and harder to find,” says Theresa Carol, business unit leader for Kelly Engineering Resources. “Our customers in civil and petrochemical engineering are hiring well into 2008.”

The medical devices sector is also hot, and there’s great demand for product designers and mechanical and validation engineers, according to Carol. “We’re also seeing the need for the buyers, planners, schedulers and project managers who work in support of these engineers.”

Even in the embattled Detroit auto industry, engineers will be needed. “We’re still seeing a lot of demand for quality and process engineers,” says Ed Hurley, business unit leader of Kelly Automotive Services. “Anything to do with more fuel-efficient vehicles is hot.”

Manufacturing, Construction, Retail and Service Sectors

Alas, for the non-quants among us, 2008 looks substantially less promising. Troubles with the overall economy, particularly high oil prices and the housing bust, threaten to cut employment in many sectors.

On November 20, 2007, the Federal Reserve further trimmed expectations for 2008, predicting anemic growth of 1.6 percent to 2.6 percent, while forecasting unemployment will rise next year to between 4.8 percent and 5 percent — though that’s still low by historic standards.

So for the tens of millions of us who still assemble products, build buildings and sell and service stuff, next year holds uncertainties. Even the quants can’t tell us which statistical categories of employment each of us will fall into in 2008.

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