I have spoken to a number of recruitment companies in Auckland and Wellington over the past few months and there are some consistent trends emerging. It is clear that for the top talent in any given discipline, there are an increasing number of options available to them.
The market has changed from companies having numerous candidates to choose from; to now ensuring you have a truly compelling offer to secure the top talent in the market.
Over and over again we are seeing candidates with growing wish-lists. Last year a high percentage of candidates would take a position if it met 80 per cent of their requirements. Now candidates are looking more and more for the perfect role; industry, location, salary, team and working environment.
Multiple offers are being made and counter offers are happening but this is sometimes not even enough to get the candidate across the line. Why? The top talent has options, and plenty of them. They are being very considered about their next career move so employers need to forget about the advantage they had in the recession and need to think more about the career opportunities they can offer.
So what are businesses doing to fill these gaps with well skilled staff in the short or even long term? Contractors and temps. Our industry has seen the demand increase for either fixed term or hourly rate support to come in and assist with the ever growing internal pressure.
Yes, quite often the contractor will get asked if they wish for permanent work, but more often than not they prefer the freedom of the "in and out" option.
There are great benefits of getting a contractor in; clients can stipulate the high level of specific skill and expertise and get the best for the project duration. It can also be noted that a contractor is tasked to the business for a stipulated reason and so a very pragmatic approach is taken.
Since they are contracted to get a job done they avoid office politics and just focus on delivery. Imagine the amount of time saved by focusing solely on the job at hand.
However there are some key differences with a fixed term contractor and an hourly rate contractor. If you have an hourly rate contractor on the right agreement you can finish their contract at a moments notice. On the other hand the employer is paying approximately a 1/3 more than someone performing the equivalent permanent role.
Employers don't have to pay for sick leave, annual leave and kiwisaver contributions. Hourly rate contractors must remember this - the rate you can command is not what you are worth but based on the role that you are going to perform.
Clients are trying to reduce this cost by having fixed term contracts whose price tends to be the same as the permanent position- sounds logical but companies are missing a key point. Firstly by offering a fixed term contract you risk not attracting the absolute top talent in the market.
If you are at the top of your field in this market you'll back yourself by sacrificing the lack of long term security of an hourly rate position for the increase in money you will earn. The IT market has always been like this - try and offer a fixed term contract for a key skill that is in demand and your inbox will be empty of top talent.
This is spreading to other disciplines, with reports coming through that more people are leaving for Australia and therefore with the talent shortage getting worse it is clear that more candidates will seek hourly rate contracts.
When it comes to the temporary market, candidates at times can be fickle. With assignments, rates and details given only to pull on a client two days in as a "better offer" has arisen. Recruiters will do their best to ensure the candidate knows all the expectations with a document of understanding being sent via email. In some cases - they just don't care.
Candidates also need to ensure their resumes are up to date and link with what role is being advertised. So many times we will call the candidate to follow up and the response being "what role is this again?" Candidates can also be a bit relaxed when it comes to the interview process," if I don't get this one there will always be another."
However if you are one of those serious job hunters, you need to make sure you can demonstrate the competencies asked, no waffle. Be realistic with your salary expectations, we have found a high number feel that they are worth far more than the market it willing to pay. Finally, be prepared.
We have also noted that on average 15 per cent of interviews do not turn up to be seen by us for the first stage of the short listing process.
Normally however we do not bother trying to track these people down as we feel if they don't have the common courtesy to call then what will they be like in their job? However these days in certain roles, we have to make allowances and chase those "no shows" as we don't have the luxury of candidate options.
This time of year is always a good time to look as an employee and as always generally the boards and websites are full of different and varied options. So for us we have to move quickly, stipulate the importance of honesty and transparency when you deal with us, it needs to be reminded we are helping you.
One thing that does astound me is the ignorance or is it arrogance of some candidates. Don't they realise the NZ market is a small one, everyone keeps records and if you don't turn up, pull out of assignments or let an agency/company down unprofessionally - don't you think we remember and next time it will be a reject email you will receive.
Yes the market is good at the moment but as we know things can change literally over night, wonder how those candidates will fare then.
Kate Ross is director of Kinetic Recruitment