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Bersin & Associates’ New U.S. Research Finds Dramatic Shift in Recruitment Spending Towards Professional and Social Networks and Away from Agencies and Job Boards

Research also Shows Progressive Companies are Turning to Internal Recruiting and Mobility to Find Skilled Talent

Oakland, CA – November 17, 2011 - Bersin & Associates, the premier research and consulting firm empowering Human Resource (HR) organizations to drive bottom-line impact, today announced its first-ever “Talent Acquisition Factbook®” a study that shows U.S. spending on talent acquisition rose 6 percent to about $124 billion in 2011 compared with 2010, with more of that spending focused on professional networks, social media and CRM technology at the expense of job boards and agencies. This new Factbook is part of Bersin & Associates’ series of Factbooks that let HR, learning, and recruiting organizations benchmark their spending, resource allocation, and program design to improve performance and efficiency.

The study, Talent Acquisition Factbook® 2011: Benchmarks and Trends of Spending, Staffing, and Key Talent Metrics, contains responses from more than 400 organizations, and was conducted via qualitative interviews and online surveys of the Bersin & Associates database and the LinkedIn network. It shows that while the volume of applicants for jobs is high, companies are still struggling to find quality candidates. The research also found that due in part to the costs and the difficulty of finding qualified candidates, companies with more advanced talent acquisition practices are fostering internal mobility programs to fill positions with existing employees.

“We estimate that U.S. companies are spending an average of $3,500 for every new hire brought into the organization – about three times the amount spent on training per employee,” said Josh Bersin,chief executive officer and president, Bersin & Associates. “This large expense is primarily going to agencies and job boards today, but companies increasingly are turning to professional and social networks for their recruiting needs. Our research shows that talent markets are out of balance: even with the high unemployment rates in the U.S., companies must invest heavily in recruiting to find the ‘right candidate,’ leading to a greater-than-ever focus on social networks as a major new tool.”

The study found that today, 10 percent of open positions are filled using professional networking sites. This percentage is expected to rise rapidly as recruiters and job seekers become more adept at using these sites.

In addition, the study found that:

  • Half of all U.S. companies decreased their agency spending this year. One reason for the shift is that agencies, while useful in recruiting for hard-to-fill positions, remain an expensive option. Companies spend more than a third of their recruiting budgets on agencies to fill just 8 percent of their positions.
  • Recruiters are overloaded with resumes, but companies struggle to find quality candidates. Firms receive an average of 144 applications for every entry level/ hourly opening, and an average of 89 applications for each professional position.
  • Nearly half of U.S. firms are spending more on contract recruiters in 2011 compared with 2010. The recession prompted most companies to reduce their full-time recruiting staffs. However, as the pace of hiring picked up earlier this year, companies brought in contractors to fill the void.
  • Job boards are not dead, but dying. While job boards remain the leading source for external hires, accounting for 19 percent of all hires, Bersin said, “with dramatic changes in the talent acquisition market, job boards risk becoming obsolete.”

For example, CH2M Hill, a full-service engineering and construction firm, diverted more than 50 percent of its recruitment advertising budget from job boards to professional networks such as LinkedIn and Viadeo, as well as to general social media tools including Twitter, Facebook and blogs, in order to get higher-quality candidates.

Bersin & Associates’ research found that increasingly, companies also are finding qualified candidates within their own ranks. For example, a global financial services provider is staging its first-ever internal career fair in London. The one-day, employee-only event aims to make employees keenly aware of opportunities outside of their individual departments, while keeping them within the corporate “family.”

“Our research found that about at least one in every five open job requisitions is filled by an internal candidate,” said Karen O’Leonard, principal analyst, Bersin & Associates and author of Talent Acquisition Factbook® 2011. “The figure for internal moves likely is even higher because some positions may be filled with internal employees without a requisition going to the recruiting department. Such efforts aid in filling vacancies, bolster employee engagement and trigger an influx of fresh ideas into new areas of the business.”

To download a complimentary copy of the Executive Summary of Talent Acquisition Factbook® 2011: Benchmarks and Trends of Spending, Staffing, and Key Talent Metrics go to

The full report is available today: $995 for a PDF and $1,045 for a print copy. For more details, go to: Talent Acquisition Factbook® 2011

Register to join Karen O'Leonard, Principal Analyst and Kim Lamoureux, VP of Research for their online webinar at 2:00 p.m. ET/19:00 GMT on December 8, 2011, Talent Acquisition: Spending Too Much and Getting Too Little?

Those interested in learning more about Bersin & Associates and its WhatWorks® membership may email or call (510) 251-4400.

For media queries, email or call (510) 251-4406.

About Bersin & Associates

Bersin & Associates empowers HR and learning organizations to drive bottom-line impact through world-class research and consulting. The company's WhatWorks® membership gives human resources, learning, and talent acquisition professionals the information and tools they need to drive change in their organizations as strategic business partners.

Bersin & Associates members use our insights and tools to benchmark themselves against best practices, design and implement programs across the HR and learning spectrum and select and implement systems.  A piece of Bersin & Associates research is downloaded every other minute during the business day. More than 5,000 organizations worldwide, including more than 60 percent of the Fortune 100, use Bersin & Associates research and consulting to guide their learning, talent, and human resources strategies.