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Office Support

July - September 2015

Australia’s office support market has seen a significant increase in the number of permanent and temporary roles on offer, with quality candidates with a similar industry background sought across all areas. For example, banking and finance organisations are increasingly requesting candidates with a banking background.

Most organisations are confident and going through a period of growth. Today they are focusing more on sales and business development rather than restructuring and consolidating roles.

In addition, as demand from customers grows so too do the support functions in a business in order to meet customer demand. This is therefore adding to job opportunities.

Meanwhile organisations that have been running lean teams are now looking for temporary office support to help them through peak busy periods, projects and maternity leave cover.

Adding to jobs growth is the continued focus on systems upgrades and IT projects, in particular SAP, while some SME businesses have moved across to XERO.

Given all this vacancy activity, the market has shifted and is now candidate short. It is very common for good candidates to receive two or three permanent job offers. Likewise the temporary candidate pool is shrinking as individuals secure permanent positions.

We have also seen an increase in the number of temporary-to-permanent job opportunities. The challenge for employers offering such roles is that they need a candidate prepared to take a temporary role initially however top talent usually receive an immediate permanent offer elsewhere.

We’ve also seen an increase in the length of the typical assignments on offer, which are usually now long-term. Like their permanent colleagues, temporary candidates are receiving multiple offers and so will change assignments far more frequently.

As noted above when they recruit, employers still prefer like-for-like industry experience. However, soft skills are also now a big factor, especially for team administration and sales administration jobs. Basic customer service and MS package skills are also essential.

We continue to see a trend towards part-time roles in lower level positions as businesses blend multiple functions into single roles. For example, Receptionists are performing administration and even accounts duties and Office Managers are taking on HR and project work.

The public sector continues to experience restructures and change. This is creating a lot of movement as new permanent positions are created then filled by public sector employees who are on the verge of redundancy. Temporary assignments are also available while the permanent recruitment process takes place, but suitable candidates must have a public sector background.

Temporary assignments are also being offered during restructures in order to ensure workloads are completed while the future organisational structure is decided.

Candidate levels have decreased. While employers receive a high number of applications, few candidates possess the necessary experience and those who do are secured quickly.

In terms of skills in demand for the July to September 2015 quarter, we’re seeing high demand for Sales Administrators and Order Processors due to an increase in sales and therefore customer demand. Sales Administrators need Salesforce, SAP or other CRM systems skills and knowledge of purchase orders and invoicing. They also need the ability to take orders via phone, email and fax, and then process and follow up each order. Organisations are less keen to train people into these roles and therefore candidates with previous experience are required.

We have also seen an increase in demand for Customer Service Administrators who want to remain in customer service. Candidates with SAP are also sought by the FMCG and manufacturing industries.

Personal Assistants with intermediate experience and a relevant industry background are needed too. Candidates at the intermediate PA and team administration level who are ready to step up into their next role are highly sought. We’re seeing demand for PAs with traditional skills in minute taking and high end secretarial, but such skills are diminishing and often candidates do not want to perform these duties.

Executive Assistants with commercial acumen are in demand so that executives can utilise them for reporting and analysing KPI data. We’re also seeing a need for EAs and PAs with previous event planning experience, since they are often put in charge of organising internal and external events. In addition, EAs/PAs are often now seeking out this experience as they realise it will help them achieve a higher-level EA role in future.

Executive Assistants, Office Managers and Senior Project Administrators are sought in the construction and property sector. We’ve seen a lot of movement at the senior level and employers are therefore replacing departing staff.

As noted earlier, Office Managers with a blended skill set are also in high demand. For example, candidates with HR and project work are needed.

Receptionists remain in very high demand. Turnover has increased as candidates feel more confident to pursue career advancement and look for their next step up. We’ve also seen an increase in temporary holiday cover requirements.

Administrators are in demand across the board, but especially those with the reporting skills found in professional environments. Similar to the EA role, these individuals free up senior executives’ time and ensure that they are up-to-date with reports, stationary and have suppliers at hand. Administrators with a financial services background are typically more commercially minded.

Technical Administrators with SAP, Salesforce and a technical background are also sought.

Administration Assistants are needed too as a result of general turnover thanks to confidence in the job market and rising turnover.

Entry-level candidates are sought at the $40,000 to $45,000 level. Employers want people they can mould and shape, and who are hard-working, enthusiastic and eager.

Data Entry is another area of need, with employers looking for people to work on projects and help clear backlogged work.

Service Coordinators are sought in the manufacturing industry, where products are sold with a service agreement in place for the warranty period. They will also have technicians onsite and sub-contractors who are engaged to perform maintenance and repair work on products they have sold to clients. Hence Service Coordinators are needed.

SME experience is also sought. When they recruit SMEs will often look for candidates who have worked in a smaller organisation where their suggestions on business improvements are needed and where they develop more all-round skills.

Legal Secretaries are needed too, and there are more legal firms and jobs than there are suitable candidates.

Site Administrators are also sought in the construction industry. Employers want candidates with previous experience working onsite, industry knowledge and who can start immediately.

In the public sector, we’re seeing demand for high-level Executive Assistants who can work with multiple directors and managers and have the appropriate level of clearance as well as public sector experience.

Ministerial Liaisons and Secretariats are in particularly short supply and employers in state government can struggle to attract the appropriate resources.

Records Officers, Records Managers and Database Managers are also needed. At the moment there is extensive restructuring taking place within the public sector. As with any restructure or merger, the entire business is reviewed. A large part of this process involves reviewing all old documentation and records. In addition, any restructure creates a surplus of documentation. Consequently records teams are adding temporary staff to help with the backlog and the added workload.

We are also seeing a need for TRIM system skills in Records Officers, Records Managers and Database Managers. TRIM is extensively used as the public sector’s document and records management system. In the rare occasion an organisation uses a different system, a candidates with TRIM experience will still be considered since the systems are transferable.

Administrators, Clerical Officers and Administrative Assistants are needed too. Many administrative roles within the public sector look for candidates with a mix of clerical skills: data entry, records keeping, invoicing and coordination. The most successful temporary workers are those who can move into an organisation within one department, and then float to different departments thanks to their mixed experience.

Data Entry candidates are needed in the public sector too. Employers look for high level skills and people with the appropriate clearance.

Admission Officers and Education Office Support candidates are in high demand as the number of training providers increases and creates more study options for students and therefore office support jobs.

In terms of candidate trends, the high volume of roles in the market has led to candidates becoming more particular about the jobs they will consider. Increasingly candidates are looking for more from their employers than just a job; they want career planning and support as well as a clear idea on where the organisation is going.

An increasing number of candidates are also interested in work-life balance and in finding a role that will offer job satisfaction.

Candidates who have experienced what it is like to go through a restructure for the first time are also more wary and interested in the success and stability of the organisation they are joining.

We’ve also seen an increase in the number of candidates looking for roles in creative industries such as media, marketing or advertising. They are prepared to wait for roles in these industries to become available.

In addition, we’re finding that a lot of candidates don't know how to write a solid resume, and so we are helping them in this area.

Employer requirements are becoming more particular, especially from organisations that require a multifaceted skill set from candidates, such as combining project administration, team administration and accounts. In turn, candidates want to be appreciated for going the extra mile through flexible working hours.

In the public sector, high quality candidates are secured quickly. While a lot of candidates apply for roles, few have relevant skills and public sector experience.

Those who do become far more selective regarding the position and salary they are looking for.

Within Government, higher level candidates have become more flexible and are looking for roles at the next level down.


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