Glimmers of Optimism Remain in Sluggish Economy

Posted: May 21, 2009 12:01 AM

A positive outlook remains amid the current difficulties in the job market. Some employees say they have grown from the experience of trying to keep their positions. Seventy-five percent of workers, according to a survey by Accountemps, a staffing service that questioned 457 employees, say they have had at least one encouraging outcome from the recession.

Several employees started working on new projects during these sluggish times. Other encouraging effects include: increasing responsibility, tackling more difficult work, interacting more with management and spending more time communicating with clients or customers.

"Because of the realities of today's business environment, firms are working with leaner teams, which has, out of necessity, given many professionals the opportunity to take on greater challenges and expand their skill sets," says Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International.

"But many employees may be struggling to keep up, and employers need to ensure they provide the resources staff need to be successful and avoid becoming overburdened."

Although employees seem to be increasing their workloads, the extra assignments still haven't been officially rewarded. Only 12 percent of workers have been offered promotions.

"While many employees are willing to stick it out during difficult times, companies must be prepared to reward those who have taken on added responsibilities as soon as business conditions improve or risk losing valued staff," says Messmer.

"Organizations that can't provide promotions or financial incentives now should look for other ways to recognize top performers and let them know there is a long-term vision for them within the organization."

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This year's grads seem to be experiencing an attitude adjustment when it comes to job searching. The millennial generation has shown an increase in flexibility and interest during the employment process, according to, an online career resource that questioned campus recruiting managers and directors.

Compared to last year, recruiters have seen a rise in '09 grads agreeing to their job offers. Due to the rough job market, grads are more willing to take offers in a shorter amount of time with less negotiation.

"New graduates are facing the perfect storm," says Erik Sorenson, CEO of Vault. "As one of the largest and most talented graduating classes ever, they are entering the worst job market in decades.

"The smartest in this high competitive marketplace will reset their expectations to match the job environment, be decisive with potential employers, then quickly demonstrate their value in their new companies. If they don't, they know there are 10 people lined up behind them to take their job."

One respondent says that new graduates look "hungrier, more humble" and appear "more grateful of the offer." These students display "less desire to shop around for a job and are more likely to take the offer that is on the table," according to another surveyor.

Because of a reduction in hiring, campus recruiters must face the difficulty of "maintaining relationships [with universities and with students] despite decreased positions and budgets," according to survey respondents.