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A successful career for Payroll Managers

Job opportunities + on-the-job learning = a successful career for Payroll Managers

With strong job prospects, on-the-job learning and a satisfying career on offer, why don’t more people aspire to become a Payroll Manager?

According to recruiting experts Hays, which surveyed 430 current Payroll Managers (5 per cent of whom were based in New Zealand; the remainder were in Australia), there is solid demand for these professionals and a willingness from the payroll profession to consider people from a wide range of backgrounds.

“Payroll offers strong job opportunities and it’s also a profession that is accepting of those looking for a career change – provided you have the analytical mindset and soft skills required to succeed,” says Jason Walker, Managing Director of Hays in New Zealand. “In fact, over half (57 per cent) of today’s Payroll Managers started their career in another field before deciding to move into payroll.

“That’s why today’s Payroll Managers possess a wide range of qualifications and why the payroll profession is one that values on-the-job learning and practical experience to expand technical skills and knowledge.

“This takes time though, with two-thirds (66%) of respondents holding at least three roles in payroll before becoming a Payroll Manager.”

According to the Hays survey, to become a Payroll Manager it takes:

Hard skills: Payroll Managers need an analytical mindset, mathematical skills and a solid understanding of payroll legislation and awards.
Soft skills: While these technical skills are required, Payroll Managers nominated nine soft skills as more important to success in the role. These include attention to detail (nominated by 48 per cent), communication (43 per cent), prioritising deadlines (26 per cent) and problem solving (25 per cent).
Systems knowledge: With no one dominant system used in payroll (as a group our 430 survey respondents currently use 45 different payroll systems) employers recognise that system skills are transferrable and will provide on-the-job training in the particular in-house system used.
Personal characteristics: Today’s Payroll Managers say professionalism (52 per cent) approachability (39 per cent), flexibility (27 per cent), adaptability (also 27 per cent) and resilience (26 per cent) are the characteristics that have helped them succeed.

Looking ahead, Payroll Managers said new system implementations, projects, internal company changes or a change to the timing of their pay runs are their greatest upcoming challenges.

Crucially, they are happy with their decision to work in payroll. 92% would recommend a career in payroll and if they were to start their career again they would still choose to be a Payroll Manager.

Yet over half (57%) say that payroll is not recognised by the wider community as a career path.

For more, please see Hays’ report ‘What it takes to be a Payroll Manager’, available at It explores the particular skills, personal characteristics, background, years of experience, challenges and future career ambitions of today’s Payroll Managers.

Hays is the most followed recruitment agency on LinkedIn in the world. Join Hays’ growing network by following Hays Worldwide. You can also get expert advice, insights and the latest recruitment news by following Hays on Twitter @HaysNewZealand.

Hays, the world’s leading recruiting experts in qualified, professional and skilled people.

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