Your Money and careers writer for the NZ Herald

Confidence in job hunting drops

'Mobility state of mind' well behind other countries as Kiwis forced to sit tight in their roles, survey reveals.

Kiwis lack confidence in jobseeking and feel trapped in their roles at work. Photo / Getty Images
Kiwis lack confidence in jobseeking and feel trapped in their roles at work. Photo / Getty Images

If you're feeling a lack of confidence in your job hunting, you are not alone. Kiwi workers are experiencing a slump in their confidence concerning job mobility.

The latest Randstad Workmonitor report says that jobseeker confidence and mobility at the end of the first half of the year had dropped to its lowest level since 2011. More Kiwis than last year believe they will be in the same role six months from now. In Q2, 2011 the level was 101 from a base of 100 (which it can fall below). In Q3, 2012 the level was 112 (its highest level). The latest report put the New Zealand figure at 100.

The Randstad Mobility Index measures the mobility state of mind. The latest findings show that New Zealand's "mobility state of mind" is behind that of other nations such as Britain, the US and Australia.

Randstad's New Zealand director, Paul Robinson, said that while the mobility rating was similar to that of 2011, the factors behind the low score were significantly different from what they were two years ago.

"The outlook in the last quarter of 2012 was overwhelmingly positive with almost two-thirds of Kiwis confident they could find comparable employment, which is significantly different to this quarter's findings."

Robinson believes that while business confidence has improved, that hasn't turned into action. This lag for job creating is having a psychological effect on jobseekers. Their ability to enhance their career hasn't come to fruition, says Robinson.

"[Jobseeker] confidence is lagging behind the real economy."

Randstad, a recruitment and human resources company, found that workers aged 18-24 were the most confident, with this age group registering a score 12 points higher than the national average. Employees aged over 55 were the least optimistic, with this age group scoring five points below the New Zealand average.

There are also variations between industries. Thanks to Christchurch, jobseekers in construction-related industries are more confident that those in administration, finance and banking, for example.

Generally, however, people are sitting tight in their current roles and working harder to prove their worth, resulting in less mobility in the market, says Robinson. It would be natural for workers to tread a cautious path and stick with what they know.

Along with this lack of faith in finding a comparable job, the Randstad Mobility Index shows a growing number of New Zealanders are feeling insecure in their current job. Two-thirds of those Kiwis surveyed (66 per cent) believe job security no longer exists. This diminishing sense of job security is being felt most among younger workers.

In the current climate, says Robinson, jobseekers will be looking at the financial stability of the organisation they want to move to. However, as business confidence improves that is not so important. Jobseekers, he says, need to focus on the values of the new organisation to ensure that the job is a good match for them.

"Doing your job research is absolutely critical."

Employers are still being conservative in their remuneration discussions, says Sarah Barnaby, senior associate at Mercer. "Moving from one organisation to another might not result in a pay increase."

In fact, when staff leave, organisations are considering whether they take on replacements at the same level of remuneration or less, says Barnaby. Nonetheless, career opportunities are a valid reason to move, says Barnaby.

The idea that job hopping results in long-term pay benefits doesn't necessarily stack up. Research done for Statistics New Zealand and the Department of Labour in 2009 found that although job movers would often get an initial pay rise, staying put was often more lucrative in the long run.

The report's authors, David Mare, senior fellow at Motu Economic and Public Policy Research, and Professor Dean Hyslop, now at Victoria University, concluded that there was a trade-off between moving to a better-paying firm and losing a firm-tenure specific component of earnings.

The study used eight years' data from the Statistics New Zealand Linked Employer-Employee Database, which provides longitudinal employment and earnings data on individual workers, together with information on firms they work for.

Mare and Hyslop found that although there might be an immediate earnings gain for job movers, on average that group tended to have lower earnings growth than the job stayers. The difference was not as marked for younger workers aged 20-29.

"We interpret these findings as being due to an earnings growth trade-off for workers between moving to a higher-paying firm and losing their tenure-related earnings at their existing firm," the authors said.

The authors commented that workers who remained in their jobs might have wage gains related to job tenure at that firm. "In contrast, workers who change jobs will lose their accumulated tenure premium but may increase their wage if they move to a higher-paying firm or find a better firm match."

- NZ Herald

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