Is the job market turning the corner?

Thursday 4th June 2020 Justin Cleveland

Is the job market turning the corner? New jobs figures from SEEK and Kaizen Recruitment indicate that the job market is improving after a painful few months. The question is, however, are we seeing the light at the end of the tunnel or are companies simply accepting the new normal and going about essential business?

For the first two weeks in May, job postings were up by more than 26% compared to the average for the month of April.

SEEK ANZ’s managing director Kendra Banks wrote, "As Australia begins its long road to recovery, we are looking at comparing job ad volumes to April. We are using April as a baseline as we hope this is the low point for job ad numbers and we can use this as a comparison for how the employment market is progressing."

The postings have been across all states and territories however the largest increases are in South Australia (36.2%), Tasmania (35.7%), and Queensland (35.1%).

Matt McGilton, managing director of Kaizen Recruitment, says he’s seeing similar positive movements in the finance space. In a survey of more than 100 senior executives and senior HR people, "76% said they are open to knowing about talent for certain positions they are currently recruiting for or about to commence recruitment for."

Meanwhile, 38% of organisations indicated they put recruitment on hold except for business-critical positions that came from staff turnover. McGilton says that non-essential positions in the market they had conversations about several months ago are starting to turn serious again. “My feeling is that, as organisations adapt to the new reality of recruitment – like digital interviewing and remote on-boarding – we will start to see gain momentum."

Is this a good time to start job hunting?

With such uncertain economic conditions, if you’re in a reasonably stable position, to stay put. McGilton says that it’s always a good time to cultivate your relationships and networks. "Almost 50% of all senior jobs are never advertised," he says. "It really is about your professional reputation and who you know."

In fact, more than 50% of the placements at Kaizen are with candidates they have an existing relationship with. "Typically, executive recruitment processes can take up to six months. It’s critical for executives looking for new opportunities to be strategically and continuously connecting with the market."

How has finance fared?

"When compared to other industries like aviation, hospitality, and tourism, it is obvious to see that the Financial Services Industry did not suffer at all," says McGilton. "There have been almost no job losses from the roughly 50 financial services organisations that I surveyed."

This is not to say there haven’t been changes. "Many executives told me they are working as hard as they ever have due to market volatility, increased time spent on digital meetings, and homeschooling (until recently)."

The amount of work for people in financial services certainly hasn’t dropped off. "Government changes to allow people early access to their super has kept the industry busy," said McGilton. Likewise, changes to mortgages and business loans to allow for flexibility in uncertain times have kept banks busy.

Where to upskill in your downtime

Whenever we go back, things will likely be significantly different. As a result, McGilton says this would also be a good time to add some new skills to your repertoire. "76% of clients surveyed confirmed a range of skills they are planning to recruit for, including managing investment data, compliance skills, and analyst skills."

Other areas that McGilton says are in demand include:

  • Investment data – Numerous investment data projects underway (but stalled / on hold and now with a backlog of recruitment needs)
  • Performance analyst and investment accountants (always for yearend)
  • Investment Operations, in particular oversight of service providers
  • Investment mandate compliance
  • Fixed Income (credit) and Infrastructure remain the main asset classes of interest
  • Increasingly, investment analysts with coding skills (VBA as a minimum, increasingly Phyton)
  • Investment Analyst in consulting firms (asset class specialisation)
  • Adviser with a book of clients and who can generate revenue .

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