Tuesday, January 05, 2010

December-January is a good time for job hunting?

Increasingly desperate Sydney employers are feeding a job advertising boom that is building over the traditionally quiet Christmas-New Year break.

Figures supplied to the Herald by the Olivier recruitment group covering all three major employment sites show that ads for NSW-based positions jumped a further 2.5 per cent in December after climbing 7.3 per cent in November.

The growth comes despite three consecutive interest rate hikes and is way in excess of the national average.

It increases the likelihood that the NSW unemployment rate will falling below 6 per cent for the first time in a year when the official figures for December are released next week.

"NSW, Victoria, Western Australia and Tasmania are piling on job advertisements at a time when Queensland and South Australian employers are winding back," said Olivier director Robert Olivier... "National job advertising grew by just 0.5 per cent."

"This is a positive welcome to Premier Kristina Keneally who has promised to focus on jobs and investment".

Drake Australia chief executive Matthew Tukaki said the usual December slowdown failed to arrive.

"Traditionally in December you see an increase in the hiring of casual labour and a slump in permanent hirings so employers don't have to bear the costs of holidays and carrying workers over summer."

"But this year the whole game-plan has shifted. Businesses are getting in now to pull in permanent full-time workers before the talent pool shrinks and taking the risk that economy will definitely recover."

The Olivier figures show an 18 per cent surge in advertisements for advertising and media workers in December, a 14 per cent surge in advertisements for administrative and clerical workers, and an 8 per cent jump in advertisements for construction workers. Demand for human resources specialists climbed 5 per cent.

"HR doesn't surprise me at all," said Mr Tukaki. "Human resources and training and development roles are always among the first to be cut in a downturn. The firms that cut a year or so ago are scrambling to get those people back."

Mr Tukaki's advice to job seekers or workers thinking of changing jobs is the reverse of what it was earlier in the year.

"Take your time," he told the Herald. "Make sure that as a candidate you look at all the options available to you and all the industries available to you. The risk candidates take locking themselves into a career or a job today is that they may actually be worth more next month."

"But many workers are reluctant to wait. They've taken a hit in hours or pay with the downturn and they know they're more likely to get an increase from a new employer than from their existing one."

"Some employers made a move before Christmas to return their workers to full hours, but many did not and took a hold-and-wait approach. If you're a candidate with a hold-and-wait employer then you're probably looking to get out. Employers need to be very careful in the current environment, as well as workers."

"I told a clients' conference in Sydney at the beginning of December than then was the good time to start thinking about retention strategies. Workers who had hung in with them and for them for 12 months needed to rewarded, not necessarily with money but creatively with career plans, training, professional development - there are a lot of things you can throw at an employee to keep them."

"But the key is timing. Don't wait for a resignation before trying to retain an employee. Go in there in a preemptive strike and try to keep the people that have stuck with your business."

Desperately seeking workers

Job ads in December

NSW up 2.5%

VIC up 1.4%

WA up 4.0%

SA down 4.9%

QLD down 3.5%

TAS up 3.0%

Australia: up 0.5%

Olivier Internet Job Index, seasonally adjusted

Published in today's SMH and Age

Graphic: Dynamic Holidays

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