Skilled staff have upper hand

By Andre Hueber

Kyle Feasy had the choice of 10 jobs when he arrived from Canada. Photo / Janna Dixon
Kyle Feasy had the choice of 10 jobs when he arrived from Canada. Photo / Janna Dixon

The tables have turned for employees, as a skills shortage means some job applicants are swamped with offers and businesses offering up to $20,000 extra on salaries.

Consulting firm Deloitte New Zealand says an upswing in economic performance brings with it the "bittersweet pill" of shortages, and employers need to come up with new strategies to deal with the issue.

The company this week released a survey of 360 employers showing that despite an official unemployment rate of 6.8 per cent, four-fifths of them are experiencing shortages that are having an impact on their businesses.

The most affected industries are accounting and finance, and information technology.

Deloitte partner Richard Kleinert said that as the economy strengthened employers would need specific types of business talents to enable growth. Those relying on old tactics and expecting low rates of turnover would be in for a "rude surprise".

"A CV tsunami lies ahead as the economy strengthens," Kleinert said. "If you're not treating your employees well, the best will have lots of options and be the first to leave."

Kleinert said organisations needed to put more emphasis on workforce planning to understand what employees valued, and small businesses needed to do this more succinctly.

Head of Trade Me Jobs Peter Ashby said the number of positions listed across all sectors had increased by 28 per cent from a year ago. Listings for accounting roles were up 16 per cent and IT roles 68 per cent.

The number of applications for accounting roles in the past year had decreased by 23 per cent. Applications for banking roles were down 41 per cent and applications for IT roles had more than halved.

There was good news for IT professionals in particular, as the average salary on offer was up by 3 per cent on a year ago.

The accounting and financial consultant at recruitment agency Farrow and Jamieson, Adam Napper, said the shortages affected assistant accountants, financial accountants and business analysts in the mid-level to $90,000 pay bracket.

He said many analytical roles had been culled during the recession after being deemed a luxury but were now coming back on stream.

His colleague Heidi Griffiths, who looks after IT recruitment, said the recession had led to special projects being put on hold but those were now coming to fruition. A demand existed for project managers, project co-ordinators, project administrators and contractors - from software developers to technical support staff.

"Everyone is hunting for the same type of person and candidates are finding themselves swamped with offers," she said.

In one case a company increased the salary it was offering by $20,000 to secure the person with the right skills.

Griffiths said the problem could be relieved by companies bringing in overseas candidates. "We need to make it more attractive for them to immigrate."

Megan Alexander, general manager of finance and accounting firm Robert Half, said placing job offers on websites when there was a shortage of applicants would no longer work as candidates were head-hunted.

"Employers need to start reacting with speed - they think, 'I want this candidate to have all these skill sets', but they will have to give up some of the boxes on their tick list."

Before the recession employees were motivated by having a great boss but today it was more to do with companies showing stability, Alexander said.

"They have seen so many people let go and companies fold, they're driven to organisations which looked after people during the recession."

Napper said it was a good time for employees to look at how happy, satisfied and challenged they were in their job.

"If not the market will be presenting more and more opportunities."

The brand integrity manager for the Madison Group, Shereen Low, said candidates should avoid being swayed by money alone.

"Consider the experiences you would gain, the company culture, the non-monetary rewards, the management style - think about the long-term career outcomes."

Loving the land of opportunities

When 25-year-old costings analyst Kyle Feasy arrived in New Zealand from Canada in November last year he had the luxury of choosing from 10 different jobs.

"I had three solid offers in three weeks," he said.

"I was surprised it was as good as it was. I understand there's a gap in the market," he says.

He ultimately chose a position at wine and spirits company Pernod Ricard.

The organisation's downtown Auckland location, culture and industry type was what swayed him.

"The viticulture industry intrigued me. It involves a unique product you can relate to."

- Herald on Sunday

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