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NZ’s office support talent mismatch

NZ’s office support talent mismatch

Office support professionals have seen demand for their expertise rise across New Zealand, but a shortage of the right skills is creating a talent mismatch and frustrations on both sides of the employment equation, says recruiting experts Hays.

“New Zealand’s office support job market is very active,” says Jason Walker, Managing Director of Hays in New Zealand. “Higher level jobs are increasing in number as more companies employ an Executive Assistant or Personal Assistant, and we’re seeing strong demand for Legal Secretaries, Corporate Receptionists and Contract and Project Administrators.

“But while these professionals are needed, there is a shortage of suitably skilled and experienced talent. Both sides of the employment equation, employers and jobseekers, find this frustrating. Jobseekers apply for roles they think they are suitable for and wonder why employers are not offering them interviews. For their part, employers are struggling to attract candidates with the experience and skills they need.”

Jason says that this talent mismatch is so acute in office support because these roles are often viewed by jobseekers as an entry point into the corporate world. “People think office support is a good entry-level access point to start their career and then move into other job functions later on,” he says. “But employers want candidates who are committed to a long-term career in office support and who have the necessary skills, experience and industry knowledge to hit the ground running. They want proven performers.”

Examples of the talent mismatch

According to the latest Hays Quarterly Report of skills in demand, one such example of the talent mismatch in office support is for Executive Assistants. These professionals are in high demand but short supply. The report notes that there is a general lack of understanding in the market about the difference between a PA and an EA. As a result, candidates are applying for Executive Assistant roles when they lack the necessary experience.

Another example is for Corporate Receptionists. Employers look for candidates who have a high level of presentation and communication skills as well as the right amount of experience. However there is an abundance of candidates applying for these roles who lack experience, a commitment to the reception role and strong communication skills.

Customer service is another area where a talent mismatch is evident, particularly in the Canterbury region where existing companies are growing and new and pre-earthquake businesses are rejoining the market. These roles require multi-skilled candidates who can take orders, dispatch and perform general customer service, and perform some administration. As a result, candidates must be multi-skilled and able to deliver on all fronts.

Hays also note a gap in salary expectations between lower level Contract/Project Administrators and employers. As Jason explains, “Following the 2011 earthquake, the high demand for administrators in the construction industry saw the average salary for this function increase substantially. But today tightening margins are driving down typical salaries. In contrast candidates with experience in the construction industry maintain salary expectations that are often $15,000 to as much as $25,000 higher than the market is now offering.”

Given the talent mismatch, the number of temporary assignments has increased. “Employers want to trial a candidate before offering them a permanent position,” says Jason. “With such a fluid market, employers want to ensure both parties are happy and right for each other prior to committing to a permanent contract.”

To see the full list of skills in demand and trends for your industry, please visit www.hays.net.nz/report

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

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