It’s tough out there..

by Jing Li, Associate Director at Robert Walters

There’s no denying it, from a recruitment and people perspective 2024 has been a rough ride, and will likely continue to be in the quarter ahead.

While it seems nearly all industry sectors, role functions and locations are being impacted by economic headwinds and a downturn in business and consumer confidence, our public sector Communications and Engagement community primarily located in Wellington are suffering the compounding effects of not only working within a sector feeling the full force of the new Coalition’s 100-day plan, but also being an openly targeted professional group inside this.

It will get better…

While unsettling in the short term, those in our Communications and Engagement community who have experienced similar winds of change in the past know that we are in a cycle – and soon, the new government will come under the usual operational and political pressure to not just deliver on pledges and policy, but to communicate this progress in a way is satisfactorily open and transparent, accessible, timely, and engaging.

In the Health, Education, Infrastructure/Housing, and Transport sectors in particular, it’s hard to imagine anything other than extremely two busy years ahead, and the new government has also been vocal in calling on the private sector to step up for the economy despite their own challenges.

Quick market observations

In February, Robert Walters’ global insights team released its global 2024 Top Talent Trends in Recruitment e-guide, and from the Top 10 there are three in particular that we’re already observing locally:

  1. Skills-led hiring: Organisations and hiring managers are moving from an experience and credentials based hiring approach to a “skills first” mentality. This means that skills and output are being assessed and valued more highly than overall experience and qualifications.
  2. “Gig” economy: This has been particularly true in the hourly rate contracting market, where we have had multiple examples of being engaged by clients who are willing and enabled to hire contractors, but strictly for ‘X hours’ directly tied to a particular project or workstream – with these hours often well below 0.5-0.8 FTE.
  3. Strategic “Boomerang” hires: Many organisations are actively engaging and prioritising the hiring of ex-staff who can not only usually contribute faster but who is also a known quantity in their delivery quality.

Reminders and tips from a Robert Walters perspective

  • Skills and delivery history – emphasis these in your CV, Cover Letter and in conversations with recruiters and hiring managers. Consider the information hierarchy of your CV and consider elevating this section towards the top. Be as specific as possible and quantify your achievements as much as possible.
  • Flexibility – Are your “non-negotiables” really non-negotiables, or just nice to have? Those who bring the above skills and delivery history but also have the shortest wish lists will find they have more options in a tighter market, this is particularly apparent when we start talking hourly rates or salary.
  • Professional development – is always a good idea! Not just to be able to show this to others, but for improving and diversifying your knowledge / skill base, and for your own confidence.
  • Networking- Snap up any opportunities you can to connect with your profession, meet new faces and stay current with hiring requirements.

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