Hiring process lengthening in tighter market

Good quality candidates are getting harder to source, survey finds

It is taking longer to complete the hiring process and fewer candidates are exceeding employers’ expectations.

Those are among the findings from recruitment firm Potentia’s 2011 Inside ICT Survey, a poll of nearly 200 IT employers conducted in May.

The previous survey, conducted last year, showed that in the majority of cases, the hiring process took less than a month, but now, the average time to hire is one to two months.

“It is taking longer to hire, which increases the cost to hire,” says Potentia managing director Josh Comrie.

“And often, there is a relaxing of the criteria employers are applying.”

Last year’s survey showed that 36 percent of Auckland employers found candidates exceeded their expectations, whereas this year, only 22 percent said so. In Wellington, figures were the same for both years, at just 15 percent.

The longer hiring period and lower incidences of outstanding candidates both point to one thing, Comrie says: it is getting harder to hire.

“The market today is one that has very much gone back to the one last seen in 2007, he says.

“It is candidate-short.”

In-demand skill sets include senior network design, infrastructure design and software design roles, he says. “It is the architecture roles.”

C# and Java developers are also in demand and the Flash Flex development toolset is also “becoming very popular”, he says.

Demand for project managers is also “good and consistent”, while JCAPS (Java Composite Application Platform Suite) is becoming a sought-after skill, especially in Wellington.

The nature of project activity in the two cities is different he says, with Wellington being characterised by multi-million dollar government projects and Auckland having a greater number of smaller projects, often valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Around one-third of the candidates Potentia is placing at the moment are from outside New Zealand, a situation he also says indicates changes in the recruitment market from previous years.

Good-quality local candidates are increasingly looking at working overseas, especially in Australia, he says.

Employers need to pay market rates to attract and retain staff. Comrie says the non-financial incentives, such as flexible working hours and non-monetary perks, that are sometimes offered in lieu of higher pay, don’t rate with IT staffers as much as they do in some other industries.

“IT doesn’t respond to package add-ons, it likes cash,” he says.

Other results from the survey include that 75 percent of Auckland employers and 72 percent of Wellington hirers plan to take on more staff this year, the majority of whom will do so within the next six months.

Many have already done so, with 58 percent of Auckland employers and 50 percent of Wellington ones saying they have hired staff this year.

In another sign that the IT scene is picking up, only 12 percent of Auckland respondents and 9 percent of Wellington ones said their organisation had engaged in restructuring and redundancy activity this year, compared with 28 percent in Auckland and 15 percent in Wellington last year.

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