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Office Support

January - March 2016

Many employers are talking to us about increasing headcount this year but have not yet settled on a timeline.

For this reason, the main focus at the start of the quarter is on temporary hiring although we are seeing some permanent roles created. To be considered for a permanent office support role candidates must be Australian citizens or permanent residents. Employers will not consider those on a working holiday visas. The same applies to placements that are temporary to permanent roles.

Organisations are looking for entry-level candidates or senior Executive Assistants with very little demand currently for middle level office support roles. Employers are also adding steps to the assessment process such as requiring candidates to have a similar industry background, knowledge of specific software packages and particular skills.

More broadly we are seeing two main trends occurring in the office support market. Many employers are making greater use of technology for administration tasks and therefore moving away from hiring reception staff. Second, many employers are hiring candidates on a temp-to-perm basis to allow both the candidate and the employer time to assess the success of the hire before making a role permanent.

Skills in demand

In terms of the January to March quarter, Receptionists are in solid demand for temporary roles due to their flexibility. Companies want to call on Receptionists for additional support throughout the day without making any major commitments to these candidates.

Corporate/Career Receptionists are in high demand and low supply in most locations. Few candidates want to stay in this role long-term and instead use the role to gain experience before progressing to a more senior role with a higher salary. This is creating a shortage of qualified, professional and able Career Receptionists that know the role inside out and can hit the ground running irrespective of the industry they join.

Administration professionals are always in demand across most industries. In the current market many employers are looking for savvy Administrators with stable CV's and strong computer skills (i.e. Excel skills and typing accuracy).

Lower level Personal Assistants at the $60,000 pa to $65,000 pa have been in demand. Some companies are looking for candidates with some experience who are keen to develop their skills.

Executive Assistants are needed too. As the world of business becomes increasingly globalised and methods of communication improve, high level professionals have looked to employ individuals capable of handling any ad hoc administrations duties that arise. This is particularly true in regards to travel and diary management. In addition, due to the importance of industry and personality fit these candidates will always be in demand.

Legal Secretaries are in demand in most markets around Australia but particularly Brisbane, Adelaide and Darwin. In the Northern Territory employers are unwilling to hire any candidate without experience yet there are very few experienced Legal Secretaries based in the top end. Adelaide has a shortage of Legal Secretaries as well. Employers in South Australia continue to look for experience plus specific industry background. Roles are generally very demanding and highly pressured. As there is a small pool of qualified candidates in Adelaide, employers must consider hiring from outside South Australia to obtain the right mix of skills.

Site Administration candidates are needed in Darwin for roles in oil & gas and construction.

Executive Assistants, Administrators and Receptionists are also in demand in the top end.

Sales Administrators are needed across the country. With the decrease in the value of Asian currencies there has been an upturn in the amount of exports and imports. Consequently, there has been an increased need for administrators who are experienced in handling the related processes and paperwork of import/exports. The job requires flexibility, the ability to deal with stressful situations and an aptitude for problem solving. On top of that, most businesses put their own unique spin on what they require from the role making it difficult for candidates to develop solid generalist skills to stay competitive.

Service Allocators are needed too. Businesses have increasingly looked to promote repeat business. An effective way of ensuring this is by employing customer service professionals who can handle customer queries over the phone and quickly assign technicians to deal with any mechanical faults. This results in a quick turnaround and means that customers are satisfied.

Data Entry is another area of demand. A large number of businesses have decided to implement new CRM systems and as a result required experienced administrators to code their existing data into these new systems.

More employers are looking for Client Service Officers/Administrators to work within Chartered Accountancy firms. This appears to be a trend that started developing six months ago and has been on the increase ever since. Employers are looking for candidates with previous experience in the role and the industry, which is in short supply.

Corporate Secretaries are needed too. This role requires a niche skill set that can usually only be found in candidates who have worked in the accounting industry. These candidates need technical knowledge of corporate structures, such as trustee companies and self managed super funds. This is a candidate short market.

The residential construction industry has been very busy with a number of new permanent support roles being created. Employers are showing a preference for employing candidates on a temporary basis for Project Administration roles in engineering. The building sector has need of candidates to fill the combined role of Client Liaison Officer/Building Coordinator/ Prestart Consultant.

Contract Administrators are also in demand in busy construction and property markets. Candidates with a construction industry background are preferred.

Some property and real estate employers are interested in candidates that speak Mandarin while architecture firms are looking for candidates with InDesign skills.

Candidate trends

Candidates are starting to understand the importance of having CVs that accurately reflect and sell their skills and experience. Many are also using LinkedIn to market themselves.

We are also seeing more office support candidates looking for greater work-life balance.

More candidates are obtaining the appropriate screening to work in government to open up their options.

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