Recruiting, Talent

Will the Candidate-Driven Market Trend Continue in 2020?

2019 was a challenging year for talent acquisition professionals! Unemployment continued to trend at the lowest levels seen in over 50 years, causing candidates to become more selective in the employers they choose to work for.


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Will 2020 see these same trends? Or will the candidate-driven market finally become a thing of the past? We’re covering some top 10 highlights from 2019 and a look ahead at what 2020 has in store.

Top 10 Everything from 2019

As the year comes to an end, job board website Monster has released its annual Year in Jobs report, which highlights the top 10 cities, industries, and occupations that hired the most throughout 2019. Monster compiled this information using proprietary data from its website. Here are key findings from the 2019 Year in Jobs report and how this information compares with 2018.

Top 10 Industries Hiring
2019 2018
1. Manufacturing 1. Construction, Trades, Production, and Warehousing
2. Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services 2. Computer, Information Technology, and Mathematical
3. (Tie) Administrative and Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services 3. Sales and Marketing
4. Health Care and Social Assistance 4. Business Operations, HR, and Financial Services
5. Wholesale Trade 5. Office, Administrative, and Customer Support
6. Retail Trade 6. Architecture and Engineering
7. Transportation and Warehousing 7. Installation, Facilities, Maintenance, and Repair
8. Public Administration 8. Health Care and Safety
9. Finance and Insurance 9. Food Service, Travel, and Personal and Consumer Services
10. Real Estate and Rental and Leasing 10. Protective Services and Military

When comparing year-over-year trends, 2018 and 2019 hiring by industry is vastly different. Not one area from 2018 was in the same position in 2019. And oddly enough, manufacturing topped this year’s list amid growing concerns that artificial intelligence (AI) was out to steal everyone’s job!

Top 10 Occupations Hiring
1. Software Developers
2. Advertising Sales Agents
3. Light Truck or Delivery Services Drivers
4. Demonstrators and Product Promoters (Brand Ambassadors)
5. Computer User Support Specialists
6. Maintenance and Repair Workers
7. Network and Computer Systems Administrators
8. Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers
9. Customer Service Representatives
10. Industrial Engineers

As you can see, software developer was the most hired position in 2019, regardless of industry. Could these developers be the ones programming the robots that are going to steal our jobs? Doubtful, as experts have debunked this myth, but still interesting nonetheless.

Top 10 Cities Hiring
2019 2018
1. New York City, New York 1. Seattle, Washington


2. Houston, Texas 2. New York City, New York
3. Atlanta, Georgia 3. Houston, Texas
4. Chicago, Illinois 4. Atlanta, Georgia
5. Dallas, Texas (new this year) 5. Charlotte, North Carolina
6. Phoenix, Arizona 6. Chicago, Illinois
7. Washington, D.C. (new this year) 7. Boston, Massachusetts
8. Boston, Massachusetts 6. Phoenix, Arizona
9. Saint Louis, Missouri (new this year) 9. Bellevue, Washington
10. Charlotte, North Carolina 10. Redmond, Washington

As the demand for more skilled workers grows, employers are starting to look beyond their headquarters’ location to seek out talent. What’s interesting is that locations synonymous with the tech industry barely make this year’s list. Instead, employers are turning to new cities in order to fill the void.

What Does 2020 Have in Store?

According to Monster’s data, some of the most-hired-for positions in 2019 were IT roles, and we can expect this trend to continue in 2020. According to additional research by Robert Half Technology, 69% of IT decision-makers anticipate expanding their team in the next 6 months, which is up 2 points from the second half of 2019. While this is good news for tech workers, employers continue to say it’s challenging to find skilled workers to fill these tech roles.

Respondents cited the following technical skills as immediately needed for their organization:

  1. Cybersecurity
  2. Cloud (computing, security, architecture)
  3. Business intelligence and reporting services
  4. Database management
  5. DevOps

Nearly all IT managers polled (96%) said they plan to bring on interim professionals. Of those, 60% say hiring project-based IT employees is part of their overall staffing strategy, and 58% will look to temporary staff if a role becomes vacant and isn’t filled quickly.

Below, technology leaders ranked their top three strategic and staffing priorities for the first half of 2020:

Strategic Priorities Staffing Priorities
1. Maintaining security of IT systems and safeguarding company information 1. Training and upskilling employees
2. Innovation and investing in new technologies 2. Attracting new talent
3. Cloud initiatives 3. Retaining existing team

Tech Hiring Plans Across the U.S.

In 2019, tech hiring shifted out of Silicon Valley and Seattle and into new regions across the country. Robert Half finds that we can expect the same for 2020. In fact, many of the locations in Robert Half’s survey findings are familiar, as they also appeared on Monster’s list.

Almost all technology leaders surveyed (97%) are at least somewhat confident in their company’s prospects for growth in the first half of 2020, and hiring plans remain robust across the map, finds Robert Half. The table below shows percentages of technology managers from 28 U.S. cities who expect to add to their teams in the first half of 2020:

Rank U.S. City % of Tech Leaders
Expanding Teams
Rank U.S. City % of Tech Leaders
Expanding Teams
1  Houston 82% 12  Raleigh* 70%
2  Miami 80% 16  Los Angeles* 67%
3  Austin* 77% 16  Cleveland* 67%
3  Charlotte* 77% 18  Phoenix 66%
5  Seattle 76% 19  San Diego* 65%
6  Indianapolis* 75% 19  Philadelphia* 65%
6  Tampa* 75% 21  San Francisco* 63%
8  Pittsburgh 74% 21  Atlanta* 63%
9  Dallas 72% 23  Detroit* 62%
10  Chicago* 71% 23  New York* 62%
10  Portland* 71% 25  Sacramento 61%
12  Boston* 70% 26  Nashville 60%
12  Cincinnati* 70% 27  Washington, D.C. 59%
12  Denver* 70% 28  Minneapolis 57%

*Denotes a tie. 

“Savvy organizations are shifting their hiring strategy given the growing demand for IT professionals and adapting to the increasing challenges brought on by talent shortages,” says John Reed, an Executive Vice President with Robert Half, in a press release.

Reed adds, “Aside from a competitive salary and attractive organizational culture, training can be a strong draw for IT staff. Tech professionals are constantly looking for ways to expand their skill sets, and providing development opportunities can be a meaningful differentiator in a competitive hiring environment.”

But Wait … There’s More!

As highlighted above, the 2019 hiring landscape was dramatically different than it was in 2018, but it seems like 2020 may be relatively unchanged. According to ManpowerGroup’s 2020 Hiring Outlook for the first quarter (Q1), U.S. employers expect the hiring pace to remain steady in Q1 2020, though regional and industry forecasts are mixed.

The Q1 2020 Employment Outlook Survey of more than 11,500 employers shows softening in 10 of 13 industries and in 2 regions of the United States, while employers in the South and the Midwest expect to hire at the strongest pace in 13 (+22%) and 19 (+21%) years, respectively.

Employers in all 13 industries report double-digit hiring intentions, with the most optimistic outlook in Leisure and Hospitality (+30%)—the highest in 3 years—as consumers dine out and keep spending. Professional and Business Services are also optimistic, with a +22% outlook driven by demand for digital skills.

Prospects look healthy for jobseekers in Wholesale and Retail Trade (+22%), though the outlook declined by 2 percentage points year over year as brick-and-mortar retail adapts to increased demand for online offerings. The Durable Goods Manufacturing outlook (+17%) declined by 1 percentage point for the second consecutive quarter, as employers remain cautiously optimistic in an uncertain global environment.

“Continued concerns over trade uncertainty are leading to some uneven market conditions in the U.S., yet the overall labor market looks resilient heading into the new year,” says Becky Frankiewicz, President of ManpowerGroup North America, in a press release. “With 7M jobs open for 11 straight months and ongoing positive hiring intentions across all industries, employers need to work harder to match people to the right roles.”

“Companies that want to hire and retain the best talent, should hire for learnability and help people develop new skills for emerging roles,” suggests Frankiewicz. “Our economic prosperity depends on helping people adapt their skills so companies can compete in a talent-scarce, economy.”

U.S. Hiring Plans by Industry Sectors, Regions, Metro Areas, and States

Employers in all 13 U.S. industry sectors expect to add workers during the upcoming quarter:

  • Leisure and Hospitality (+30%),
  • Construction (+22%),
  • Professional and Business Services (+22%),
  • Wholesale and Retail Trade (+22%),
  • Transportation and Utilities (+19%),
  • Government (+18%),
  • Durable Goods Manufacturing (+17%),
  • Education and Health Services (+16%),
  • Financial Activities (+14%),
  • Other Services (+14%),
  • Nondurable Goods Manufacturing (+13%),
  • Mining (+13%), and
  • Information (+12%).

In the South, employers anticipate the strongest regional hiring pace—up 4 percentage points quarter over quarter and the highest in 13 years (+22%). The outlook in the Midwest (+21%) is at a 19-year high. Year-over-year hiring intentions weaken in the West and Northeast but remain flat compared with last quarter. In the West, the outlook (+19%) declines by 1 percentage point compared with a year ago, while employers in the Northeast (+18%) report a decrease of 2 percentage points.

Employers in Arkansas (+28%), Maryland (+27%), New Hampshire (+25%), and South Carolina (+24%) report the strongest outlooks nationwide. Of the 100 largest metropolitan statistical areas, the strongest job gains are expected in Chattanooga, Tennessee (+34%); Columbus, Ohio (+33%); Cape Coral, Florida (+31%); and Deltona, Florida (+31%).

While it remains to be seen what 2020 has in store, one thing is certain: Candidates still rule the hiring process. Savvy employers and talent acquisition professionals who adjust their strategies to accommodate jobseekers and offer a candidate experience that stands out among the rest and continue that same experience throughout the employee life cycle will attract and retain the talent they desire for 2020 and beyond.

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