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Reports of a slowing job market may have been slightly exaggerated, according to recent data from Robert Half Canada.

Half of Canadian companies are planning to hire for full-time positions in the first half of this year – an increase from just 40 per cent in the second half of last year – according to the recruitment company’s survey of nearly 1,450 managers. Forty-two per cent plan to hire for vacant positions and 65 per cent plan to hire contract professionals.

The survey results were released in January on the heels of unexpectedly rosy job numbers from Statistics Canada. The agency reported in early January that employment had risen by 104,000 jobs and the unemployment rate declined to five per cent, a near-record low.

“It’s just such a turbulent time in the market, and so when you hear that more than half of the companies across the country have plans to hire it has you maybe scratching your head,” said Koula Vasilopoulos, senior managing director at Robert Half, in an interview. Though the survey was conducted in the latter months of 2022, the company hasn’t seen indications that company hiring intentions have changed since.

Ms. Vasilopoulos said a couple of factors are at play, including companies seeing refreshed budgets at the beginning of the year and setting goals to execute on key projects.

According to Robert Half, hiring intentions are broad-based, including in administration and customer service, marketing and creative, construction, transportation, logistics and, perhaps counterintuitively, technology. “Some large [tech] companies that were maybe a bit aggressive in 2022 may have identified that they overhired a bit. But many roles in tech continue to be very strong, especially in small to mid-sized companies,” she said.

Nine in 10 said they’ve faced challenges finding skilled professionals. Robert Half said companies should be prepared to offer competitive salaries and benefits, and Ms. Vasilopoulos said she’d heard anecdotally of companies highlighting perks such as internal mobility and flexible or remote work options and talking up their charitable giving.

With competition for talent so fierce, Ms. Vasilopoulos suggested Canadians who were considering a career move reflect on what they want most from an employer and what their deal-breakers would be “because there’s still many, many opportunities in the marketplace.” Job seekers can also get a head start by dusting off their résumé and LinkedIn profile, and start connecting with people in their own network and reaching out to hiring managers at companies they’re interested in.

For job seekers looking to stand out, managers surveyed by Robert Half said they valued candidates who were punctual and professional during interviews, demonstrated a knowledge of the company, and had a passion for the organization’s mission.

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