Naviga’s 2009 Economic Survey finds companies are cautiously optimistic for revenue and hiring growth in 2009

In some encouraging economic news, an independent survey conducted on behalf of my sales and marketing recruitment firm, Naviga Recruiting & Executive Search, found that companies are projecting at least modest revenue growth in 2009 and most are planning to expand their sales force to make that happen.

When asked how they project revenues to change in 2009 compared to 2008, more than 32% of respondents indicated that they expect an increase of between 1-10%, and nearly 11% said they expect revenues to grow by more than 20%. One-fourth expect revenues to stay the same, while 21% expect revenues to decrease.

To support revenue goals, 100% of respondents said they plan to hire sales professionals in 2009, with 75% expecting hiring to begin in the second quarter*. Customer service and engineering/development, at 22% each, were the other key positions for which companies plan to hire in 2009, followed by marketing, accounting and information technology (11% each).

Most of these positions will be in the Northeast and Southwest, which were each identified by 50% of respondents as the geographies in which they planned to hire in the coming year*.  Those regions were followed by the Southeast and Midwest (37.5% each), and 25% plan to hire for positions in the Northwest.

In the meantime, companies are taking several steps to counter the current economic conditions*. More than 46% said they were cutting non-payroll expenses to improve their financial positions. To stimulate growth, 32% said they were increasing their sales budget and 11% said they were making targeted acquisitions.  Another 32% said they were cutting payroll expenses, 25% said they are making no changes in their general plans.

When asked to describe their company’s current hiring status given the country’s economic condition, more than 28% said they were hiring in selective functions or geographic areas, and 25% said they were hiring only to replace departing employees. Layoffs had been completed or were being planned by more than 21%, and nearly 18% had instituted a hiring freeze. Just 7% indicated that they were currently hiring across the entire company.

So while things may look grim at the moment, these results tell me that we will begin to see the light at the end of what has been a dark economic tunnel within the next few months!

* Percentages added may exceed 100% as participants could select more than one answer for this question.

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