Good times for top talent

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As the rate of unemployment starts to slow, Excel Recruitment surveys the industry to find out what’s on Irish employers’ minds right now



11 June 2009

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The good news is that we have seen a softening of the redundancy numbers, with a massive slowdown in the number of people losing their jobs. However, employers and workers alike are on edge as the economic struggles that began in 2008 have extended into 2009, and will likely last into 2010. We surveyed our clients and asked them their views, from a head count of employees to how they think staff approach their careers and the changes in the current market.

During the previous six months, Ireland went through an unprecedented number of job losses. Now, however, employers are focused on retaining their talent. This quarter the big focus is on managing change within organisations, retaining staff, and dealing with the fall out from rationalisation.  

Even in these turbulent times, people still move jobs for the same reasons as before: bored with a role; lack of progression; not getting on with the boss. People are still changing jobs of their own accord and although employers are displaying cautiousness when hiring, the fact is that they still are.

In the second quarter, 60% of employers expect no change in their numbers of full-time employees. They are, however, focused on preserving top performers and retaining talent in there organisations.

Current employment trends

The Q2 survey revealed not only recruitment and rationalisation patterns, it also showed both employers and employees are reprioritising their workplace plans. The following trends emerged from the survey:

1 Salaries and benefits

In an attempt to stay afloat until the economy calms, companies are looking for temporary opportunities to reduce costs. One solution is to cut some or all perks and benefits offered to employees, which 45% of employers did in the first quarter of this year. In the second quarter, 33% expect to do the same. Bonuses are the most affected area and salary reviews have largely been postponed.

2 Skills transfer

The majority of recruitment managers (70%) said that they are willing to recruit job seekers without experience in a specific field provided they have transferable skills. When workers are ready for a career switch, they can look for their transferable skills to help them make the move. Of workers who were let go and have not yet found work, 80% said they are looking for jobs outside of their chosen profession, either due to desire for a change or the lack of available jobs. With recruitment managers looking at transferable skills, this is of great value to individuals seeking employment.

3 Recruiting top talent

Lack of opportunities along with much slower recruitment drives has given employers an opportunity to replace lower-performing workers with top talent that wouldn’t otherwise be available in a healthy economy. Job seekers in sales, accounting and finance, retail, and customer service are the candidates benefiting most from these practices. The perception is that there has never been a better time to find top people.

4 Education

Employment seekers see the benefits of further education and training with 21% of those surveyed looking to increase their marketability to employers through further education; going back to college for formal degrees, certifications and refresher courses.

5 Relocation

Some 40% of workers who were laid off and have not found work would consider relocating. Employers are also willing to expand their search for talent, with 20% of recruitment managers willing to pay for the right candidate’s relocation.

6 Postponement of retirement

Some employees nearing retirement age have decided to adjust their plans in light of the economic difficulties and the impact on their long-term finances. Of surveyed workers over 60 years, 20% said they will put off retirement. Furthermore, 7% of these workers think they will need up to six years to recover their lost savings, while 3% fear they will never regain the financial security needed to retire.

Some of the trends from our survey were stark and even a little frightening, however, there was a much more positive and pragmatic feeling towards the future and in employment trends in general.

Barry Whelan is managing director of Excel Recruitment Ltd



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