Discerning fact from fiction in the current employment market – From the desk of Lee Marshall

It’s fair to say there is significant noise in the market right now. With an upcoming election, a recession and a cost-of-living crisis all pointing to a negative environment, positive net migration and low unemployment make it hard to discern fact from fiction.

We are in a privileged position where the employment market acts as a real-time barometer of what’s happening on the ground.  I sat down today to shed some light on what we are seeing, and if this year is meeting our expectations so far.

The recessionary environment has slowed down the huge tailwinds experienced in the employment market over the last two years. Considering this was an inflated recruitment market, the slowdown appears more significant than is potentially fair. That being said Seek data shows job ad volumes are now just 1 percent higher than they were in July of 2019, with current applications per listing at the highest level on record, up 11 percent month on month.

Like many, this isn’t our first recessionary rodeo. During times of economic uncertainty, our experience tells us that businesses tend to add additional layers to the decision-making process, especially when it comes to hiring.

These additional steps involve employers critically assessing whether a role is vital. Is it a business-critical role, is it sized at the right level, and do we have enough resources to cover the duties for a short time if we don’t replace them?

If the decision is to move forward with recruitment, often the first step for employers is to undertake the recruitment process internally. After a period of unsuccessful recruitment, it is at this point that a recruiter is engaged. The net result means it can take anywhere between 4-6 weeks for the role to hit the market and thus up to three months before a replacement is found once you factor in notice periods.

Net migration figures suggest that the doom and gloom around the labour market is easing. Unfortunately, we aren’t seeing the influx of talent into the areas that we so desperately need here at Hunter Campbell. In fact, accounting and finance professionals, in particular, didn’t get the memo and are still heading offshore in their droves. With only a few signs that Kiwi ex-pat talent may be heading home soon, the supply and demand equation will continue to put pressure on the sector for some time to come.

Then comes the talent attraction strategy. If you are attempting to attract talent, my sense is that there ARE people out there, but you will have to work hard to attract them. Your proposition needs to be the best in the market, with a clear offering around flexible working, the ability to articulate your EVP, and remuneration levels at the top of the scale. You will need to focus on the entire market, not just who is on the market applying for jobs. This is the space where a trusted recruitment partner can add true value.

For candidates, there still are roles, and employers are continuing to hire. However, as mentioned above, everything is taking longer, and it will feel like there are fewer roles out there. The senior end of the market has gained momentum in both Sales and Marketing and Accounting and Financial Services. The cyclical movement in the top layer of the market is here, and opportunities are available. Demand for supply chain talent remains consistent as the market recovers from the effects of the global supply chain disruption during COVID.

Here at Hunter Campbell, our team is busy and positive; across the three divisions of Accounting and Financial Services, Sales and Marketing and Supply Chain, Operations and Procurement, we are making placements and the HC team is focused on the things we can control; delivering exceptional client and customer experiences.

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