Australia’s office support job market is very active and we are seeing an increase in both temporary and permanent vacancy activity from reception level through to office managers and EAs.
We are seeing a particular increase in demand for candidates with specific industry backgrounds and relevant systems skills since employers do not want to train their new office support but instead want a candidate with the necessary industry understanding and technical skills to add value immediately.
Both permanent and temporary candidates are sought. We are also seeing more fixed-term contracts, often around six months.
Today there are more office support roles within the architecture, design and construction industries. We have also seen a lot of movement in the financial and accountancy fields. SMEs are also actively recruiting additional office support.
We’ve also seen some employers recruiting for multi-skilled roles, such as a Personal Assistant who is also required to undertake some procurement duties. In addition, employers are increasingly adding psychometric testing to the interview process.
The public sector office support market is very candidate short. Employers find it challenging to secure candidates with public sector experience. They look for candidates with specific systems experience such as SAP and TRIM and are not willing to train candidates in these systems for temporary roles.
Given the candidate shortage, job seekers are more selective in their search. As a result, employers need to act quickly; those who are too slow to act lose out on top talent.
However while candidate levels are decreasing, employers’ expectations remain very high.
We are also seeing an increase in temporary-to-permanent options within the public sector as employers look to trial a candidate before offering them a permanent role. Similarly to the private sector, the use of psychometric testing as part of the recruitment process is up.
Some employers are also introducing an internet based reference checking system, which invites referees to provide feedback online. The feedback so far is that referees are more honest and they gain a truer report and insight into the candidate.
Some state government departments have undergone large restructures. In some cases this is creating jobs as departments re-write the organisational structure and create more dynamic positions.
Skills in demand
In terms of skills in demand for the October to December 2015 quarter, we’re seeing high demand for sales support and order processing candidates in the private sector in response to sales growth. Employers look for candidates with experience with CRM systems including SAP, Pronto and Salesforce, as well as excellent attention to detail, the ability to work well under pressure and exceptional customer service skills. Due to the urgency and importance of this function, employers need candidates with such experience in order to start immediately with little training and supervision.
Demand is increasing for Executive Assistants and Office Managers who can support a senior executive. With more confidence in the market Executive Assistants are considering their options and looking for a role that offers project management responsibilities or a salary increase.
Receptionists and Office Administrators remain in demand, particularly for temporary-to-permanent roles. Employers want to start such candidates in a temporary role initially in order to trial them in the role. If they prove themselves they will be offered a permanent role. Receptionists who can also complete data entry and invoicing are also sought.
Data Entry candidates are needed for short-term assignments to help clear work backlogs. Speed and accuracy are critical and employers ask for test results prior to engaging a candidate.
Project Administrators are also sought. Across the office support market project experience is in high demand due to an increase in construction and infrastructure activity.
Administrators with commercial leasing knowledge are sought within the busy commercial property market. Employers look for candidates who want to remain in administration long-term.
Real Estate Sales Administrators are also needed. While there are candidates available, employers will only consider those with stability on their CV. We’re also seeing demand for Mandarin speaking property administration candidates.
In the public sector, we are seeing high demand for well-presented and corporate Receptionists. Such candidates are quickly secured and are in short supply, especially for short-term assignments resulting from the need to cover holidays or sick leave.
Executive Assistants with additional skills in projects, SAP and TRIM are also sought as public sector employers look for skills above the traditional job description. We’re also seeing a need for Executive Assistant with state government experience. Demand is increasing as a result of candidates changing roles and employers looking for temporary support to cover holidays or secondments.
Administrators with additional skills in SAP and TRIM are also sought across the public sector. Restructures and projects are adding to the need for extra assistance in this area.
Candidates with federal government security clearances are in very short supply.
Client Service Officers (Housing) with strong administration skills as well as a background in social care are in short supply. It is a challenge to secure candidates with this balance of skills who will accept government hourly rates.
Ministerial Correspondence Officers are sought to work on the increasing number of briefs coming from Ministers.
Data Entry Officers are required to enter information and clear backlogs.
Data Analysts are sought by state government to report on research.
Finally, Project Administrators are needed to work on the growing number of new projects.
In terms of candidate trends, strong candidates now receive multiple offers. They are aware that vacancy activity is increasing and are often attending multiple interviews. Many do not remain on the market for longer than one week, especially candidates with specific system skills such as InDesign or SAP.
As a result, candidates are becoming more selective. This is true of candidates in both the private and public sectors. Location and hourly rates are a particular focus for candidates.
Candidates are also increasingly on LinkedIn and are focusing on creating an up-to-date and professional profile. For more see our article Have you Googled yourself recently? For advice on using LinkedIn and social media appropriately before and just after an interview, see jobseekers, it’s not okay to connect with your interviewer on LinkedIn.
In the public sector, candidates are gaining the highest level of clearance they can in order to help secure their next role.