Rise in employers looking to hire

By Steve Hart

Survey finds companies more likely to take on staff in next six months

Recruitment expert Sean Brunner says employers are looking for people with new skills to enhance their company.
Recruitment expert Sean Brunner says employers are looking for people with new skills to enhance their company.

A third of managers asked about their hiring intentions during the next six months are planning to recruit more people than during the first half of the year.

But it appears most vacancies will be due to firms replacing staff - rather than increasing their head count.

This is just one of the findings in a survey of 650 hiring managers carried out by recruitment firm Robert Walters.

Sean Brunner, a director at the firm, says most of the new jobs will be as a result of "replacement hires".

"I think a lot of the hiring that's happening is off the back of restructures, or replacement hires," Brunner said.

"What we are really seeing is increased candidate confidence, people moving [jobs] more regularly because of that confidence, and employers having to replace those people - rather than new roles being created."

However, Brunner says his firm's survey will not have covered all industries.

"A lot of the job creation in New Zealand is coming off the back of economic growth in Auckland and as a result of the construction boom in Christchurch," he said.

"And some of that may not have been totally catered for among the people we surveyed."

Survey findings also talk of salary increases, but don't get your hopes up of a pay rise - unless you are planning to change jobs.

While half of those who responded to the survey intend to increase salaries, it seems likely that new hires will be offered a higher pay rate to lure them away from their current employer.

"Most employers are looking for new skills and people who have strong change management abilities, and a more commercial skill set than they have been looking for in the past - that's leading to salary growth," he said.

"But on the flip side there are organisations that haven't given pay rises in the last five or six years, apart from making incremental increases when they had to. The pressure is starting to build on organisations to look at that.

"At 6 per cent unemployment, you are pretty much at full employment - so it is purely a supply and demand thing. Companies have held firm for a long time in keeping a lid on costs, but to keep their best people they are having to review that position."

The survey reveals 3 per cent of the hiring managers plan to cut their organisation's headcount before the year-end. These industries include the public sector (30 per cent); retail (6 per cent); telcos (12 per cent), and the media (12 per cent).

One apparent anomaly in the survey is the media industry. While it's in the frame for staff cuts, 45 per cent of hiring managers in the media plan to hire more staff.

Staff at Robert Walters theorise that while a lot of the biggest cuts in media have been in editorial departments, some media organisations are trying to grow their presence online and will hire business development managers, sales people and digital IT professionals. It could also mean they are only making replacement hires.

On the job front generally, Brunner says regional areas are still subdued, Auckland has been going "gangbusters", Christchurch has skills shortages, and Wellington has suffered from companies leaving the capital to relocate to Auckland.

Jobs for freelance contractors appear to be down on a few years ago, when firms were reluctant to hire fulltime staff. The survey says 10 per cent of firms plan to use contractors.

Brunner says the market for contractors in Auckland and Wellington is different, with Auckland firms tending to hire fulltime staff, while firms in Wellington are using temps.

"Over the last three years there has been a trend in Wellington towards more contingent hiring around fixed term, temp and contract, so the low figure in the survey for contractors surprises me," he said.

On the skills front, managers said a shortage was evident in the IT sector, especially for niche skills such as SharePoint analysts and developers, as well as in the legal sector for lawyers at the three to five years' post-qualified level.

Hiring intentions at a glance

Of hiring managers surveyed ...
30 per cent say they are more likely to hire in the next six months than in the first half of the year.
26 per cent are less likely to hire in the next six months.
41 per cent expect no change.
3 per cent expect to downsize.
Source: Robert Walters

Steve Hart is a freelance writer at www.SteveHart.co.nz

- NZ Herald

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