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2017 Sales Hiring Forecast

At the start of each calendar year, I look to CareerBuilder, Manpower and Linkedin’s hiring forecasts to project sales hiring for the year ahead. For 2017, I reviewed those resources and a few more with the hopes of forming a more complete view on the sales hiring forecast for 2017. Read on to learn my 4 takeaways including the one takeaway that should have employers concerned and sales professionals smiling.

1. 2016 Was a Very Good Year.

The United States has enjoyed over six straight years of consecutive monthly job growth. On average, approximately 180,000 new jobs were added each month in 2016 bringing the unemployment rate down to 4.6%. This is the lowest rate since August 2007.

More relevant to corporate, career sales professionals is the unemployment rate for workers that hold a Bachelor’s degree or higher, which stands at a scant 2.5% (5% is considered full employment).

2. Hiring Haves and Have Nots.

Since the last recession in 2008-09, the economy has added 8.4 million jobs requiring a college degree and only 80,000 jobs requiring a high school degree or less. Today, the unemployment rate for workers with a high school diploma or less stands at 7.4%.

3. 2017 Sales Hiring Forecast.

CareerBuilder, Manpower, and Linkedin all forecast that the hiring pace in 2017 will be similar to 2016. With unemployment rates continuing to drop, employers will be competing for a shrinking pool of available talent. The chart below, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, visualizes the dilemma for employers. Yes, there are presently over 5.5 M open, unfilled jobs.

But what about sales hiring? According to Linkedin’s 2017 Recruiting Trends Report, “sales” is the highest priority role companies will be recruiting for in the year ahead. Manpower’s 2017 Talent Shortage Report lists “sales” as the 3rd most difficult role to recruit for.

These forecasts show that the demand for B2B sales professionals in 2017 will be intense. If you’re an employer, you can read Sales Recruiting in Tough Markets – 4 Rules to gain an advantage.

4. Salary Growth.

CareerBuilder’s Q4 2016 Job Forecast shows that 68% of employers will be increasing salaries in 2017. This is in line with Glassdoor’s Pay Reports which shows the pay for U.S. workers increased by 3.1% in November 2016 compared to November 2015. A quick look back at the BLS chart above explains the situation. When hiring demand exceeds supply, wages rise.

How Long Will it Last?

With growth slowing in the UK, many were predicting that the UK would tip into recession in 2017. This could have been the first of many dominos to fall that could have ultimately dragged the US economy down as well.

The election of Trump has lifted the stock market and caused most analysts to revise their economic predictions for the United States in 2017. How this all ultimately plays out is anyone’s guess.

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Chris Carlson

My name is Chris Carlson and I’m the founder and President of Sales Talent. This blog grew out of my desire to document and share what I’ve learned in my two plus decades of sales recruiting and leading Sales Talent. We post a new blog once a quarter on the 3rd Thursday of every January, April, July and Oct. These posts are aimed at sales professionals and leaders that speaks to talent selection, team building, or career advancement. If you have a topic that you’d like my take on, please reach out to me.

You can find Chris Carlson on LinkedIn or contact him directly at: