More workers saying: "I quit!"

March 6, 2012 at 11:40 AM ET

There’s good news on the employment front. A growing number of employees are calling it quits.

In a sign that workers spooked by the Great Recession may be getting some of their career mojo back, two studies find an uptick in the number of employees resigning.

MRINetwork, one of the nation’s largest recruiters, released a survey of recruiters Tuesday that found 28 percent of the job openings employers had in January were a result of employee resignations, up from 21 percent in July of last year. And the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in a February report, showed that the number of workers quitting has been steadily rising since its low point in December of 2009.

“Quits tend to rise when there is a perception that jobs are available and tend to fall when there is a perception that jobs are scarce,” the BLS reported.

While it’s a good sign for the employment picture that 1.9 million people pink-slipped their employers, workers still aren’t quitting like it’s December of 2007, the first month of the recession, when 2.8 million said goodbye to their bosses.

Indeed, the unemployment rate is still above 8 percent now, but reports of increasing employee desertions may bode well for what we'll be seeing this Friday when February employment data is released.

“Our candidates, as they’re seeing the economy start to rebound, are becoming more and more confident, where in the past they were just happy to have a job,” said Nancy Halverson, senior vice president of operations at MRINetwork.

Employers, she continued, are beginning to hire more, but they’re still not at pre-recession levels. “Organizations are adding and upgrading talent, and all of a sudden, employees are willing to say, 'I’ll put my name out there.'”

In another good sign, the MRINetwork report found that 56 percent of recruiters polled saw the job market as candidate-driven, while 44 percent said employers drove it.

The online survey polled 163 recruiters and was conducted from Dec. 2011 through January 2012.

Job openings are mainly occurring because companies have created new positions. The top trait employers are looking for in candidates is a history of creating revenues, followed by applicants who’ve worked for a brand name company, and then individuals with advanced degrees, the survey found.

The report also looked at how employers are finding those perfect candidates:

  • 11 percent said an active candidate was already in their database.
  • 12 percent said they were already in their database but were not actively seeking work.
  • 16 percent were found via direct sourcing from competitor employers.
  • 18 percent were found as a referral for the position.
  • 25 percent were found in a search of third-party databases (LinkedIn, Jigsaw, etc.) for this specific role.
  • 12 percent had responded to a job posting.
  • 6 percent cited other.

Are you ready to call it quits?

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