Saturday, November 27, 2010

My take on market conditions – Plan your resourcing ahead or prepare to get burnt!

Well, 2010 certainly has been an interesting year. Last year at this time, I think a lot of us were reflecting on what a tough year 2009 was, and hoping that 2010 would bring some relief. For myself and my colleagues at AbsoluteIT, 2010 has been an altogether rosier year and we are hopefully seeing the backend of the recession. Working hand in hand with our clients and candidates, we have seen a strong uplift in demand for our services across the board and are experiencing a record numbers of placements in both the contract and permanent market. We were also delighted to receive the winner of the Excellence in Recruitment award at the CIO Conference, which was a true highlight for us as it’s the only recruitment award handed out by the IT sector.

Like many industries, the recruitment industry usually slows down over the November/December period. But that is certainly not the case for us in 2010. I was talking to my manager the other day, who has over 20 years’ experience within the IT recruitment industry across Australasia and the UK, and he said that he had never seen a Christmas period this busy in his whole career. Why is this? Are companies trying to catch up on time lost during the recession? Are some of these mission critical projects that have been put on ice finally getting kicked off? Or is it a combination of these things, I am not sure. However, the one thing I do know is this resurgence in the demand for resource is placing massive strain on our traditionally skill short market.

The biggest shift in 2010 has been the change from people needing jobs to employers needing people, which has led to a much more candidate orientated market. This has been a double edged sword for recruiters- it’s been great to have more jobs to fill, but it has become increasingly harder to source quality candidates for these roles. The companies that are securing the best talent are the ones that are taking a proactive approach to their resourcing. Companies that are insisting on having long hiring processes are finding quality candidates are pulling out mid-way through as they have been offered and accepted another position. It’s competitive, and that great candidate you are considering hiring probably has another couple of potential offers in their back pocket. So if you are hiring, and you haven’t already, it’s time to start looking at what your company or your project can do to secure the best people.

If you are going to be needing resource early in the new year, I would strongly encourage you to be looking at hiring RIGHT NOW! With the volume of roles and hiring we are experiencing currently, I am predicting we are going to be hit with a serious candidate shortage come February/March of next year. In current discussions with a number of my clients, a common theme is emerging – key projects are going to be kicking off in early 2011 or a number of new RFP requests are coming through and they are going to be very busy early next year! Companies simply must start looking at resource and staffing for these projects now or run the risk of being left high and dry come kick off time.

Some clients are starting to use this tactic and are signing up contractors now for a start in early February. This in my view is a brilliant approach- Not only does it ensure that project is fully resourced heading into February, but it also allows that particular client to look at permanent staff that are locked into a 4 week notice period that are looking for an entry point into the contracting market.
It is great to see the recruitment industry coming back strong as it means more jobs for more candidates and overall, less New Zealanders having to struggle due to the economic crisis. It certainly appears that 2011 has all the markings of being a very busy and productive year for lots of different industries, IT included. With the right degree of planning, there is no reason you can’t have your cake and eat it to. If you wish to discuss any resourcing matters, either contract or permanent, please get in touch with me at either or give me a call 021 465 644.

If I don’t speak to you beforehand, have a Merry Christmas and a happy safe New Year.


Monday, April 5, 2010

How to get recruiters working harder for you. CV and presentation tips to guarantee a more successful application every time!

When I first got into recruitment 3 years ago I heard stories about recruiters and their goldfish attention spans. Although this might be an exaggeration there is some truth to the statement. We work in a fast paced industry where speed is often the difference between success and failure. Candidates also need to be aware that while there is without doubt a serious shortage of quality IT professionals in NZ, they are also unlikely to be the only applicant, in the current climate we can receive up to 100 applications for certain job opportunities. So then how do you grab that recruiter’s attention and get them to pay the attention your application deserves in this short period of time? As a candidate this question may seem daunting or even unfair, but I am about to outline how you can use this exact brief window to increase your chances of securing that dream job.

For all you prospective job seekers it’s important to remember you only have a small moment to captivate the recruitment consultant’s attention. The good news is that captivating their attention is not hard when your details are presented effectively; after all it’s in the recruiter’s interests. Here are a series of techniques all candidates should implement to assist their applications.

I think a lot of the candidate market wrongly assumes that as IT recruiters we understand their technical space. It may be true that the consultant has a degree of technical knowledge and some may even have been in IT roles themselves, but I can guarantee you if your level of knowledge is only the same as the recruiters then you will be unlikely to be getting the job as the client will almost certainly need more skills than this. Therefore it’s imperative that you make the recruiters life easy and you show them what they want straight away! The easiest and most effective way to do this is with a skills matrix at the start of your CV before your commercial experience. Recruiters look for simple information that is easy to understand and if you provide this you are almost certain to have their attention for an extended period of time.
Here is a generic example of an effective skills matrix for an ASP.NET web development role

Technology Years of experience Self Rating (10 being the highest)
ASP.NET 1.0, 2.0, 3.5 6 9/10
C# 6 9/10
JavaScript, Jquery 3 7.5/10
HTML, CSS 4 9/10

Cover Letter
Cover letters are tricky things because a poor one can ruin your chances before they have even begun. There are a couple of ways to approach them that will add more credence to your application.
The first and most crucial thing is that you tailor the cover letter to the requirements of the role! Nothing turns a recruiter off more than a generic cover letter that really says absolutely nothing, or worse is addressed to the wrong person or refers to a different role!! You should have a standard sentence that outlines yourself but the rest of the cover letter should be a brief rundown of what you believe is your strengths in relation to the advert or position description.
Helpful hints:
• Include the cover letter at the beginning of your CV to insure it gets read
• If you can’t do it right then don’t do it at all

Phone Calls
As a recruiter I appreciate the power of a phone call over email better than most. I actually wouldn’t have got my current role with AbsoluteIT if I hadn’t followed up my application with a phone call. I constantly hear complaints from friends and candidates in the IT industry about the lack of any response from recruitment agencies to their applications and this is often demoralising. We at absoluteIT have a service level agreement that we will respond to every application within 48 hours so I believe that is the line in the sand. I would encourage more candidates to follow up their applications with a phone call if they have not had any form of response from the agency within this period.
A well timed phone call to follow up can often help your application rather than impede it, but the key is to be prepared! When you call the agency make sure you are clear on what role you are following up on and which consultant the role lies with. Although this might seem like common sense I receive numerous phone calls from candidates who can’t even remember what the role was they were applying for which immediately creates a bad impression. You should also be clear about what message you are looking to convey to the consultant. You should aim to be concise and avoid any ramble. A clear and confident phone will almost always move your application in the right direction and help you avoid all that frustration you feel when you don’t receive any response from the agency.
See it as a partnership, as I mentioned earlier it’s in the recruiters interest to find the best people for his/her client, so think of it as an opportunity to develop a relationship with the recruiter which will help them to present you to the client. Even if not successful with the first opportunity this will help with subsequent roles.

So in summary a well written CV with a skills summary at the start, a brief and relevant cover letter and a prepared phone call to follow up your application and uncover more detail on the role and recruitment process will all aid your application and help the recruiter to give the attention your application deserves.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

My take on market conditions

Hi All

With the end of March near and the new financial year almost here I thought I would give you my insight into where I see the development market.

March has been one of the best months in recent memory for our contract sector across the board. This is an extremely good sign as this is typically how recessions recover with a lift in the contract market followed by a lift in permanent resource demand that trails 6 months later on average.

I have certainly seen strong demand come from the interactive/web market in the first quarter of 2010. This has really been a continuation on from 2009 where the web market was one of the strongest growth sectors in Auckland. From a candidate perspective I am noticing a lot of expression of interest in the contract market but at this stage there is still not a steady enough stream of requirement to meet this demand. Hot technologies have been the usual suspects in .NET and front end tools like HTML/CSS/JavaScript but there has also been a strong demand for senior PHP resource.

A good sign for the overall IT community is the continuing charge of the financial services sector. AbsoluteIT has experienced strong demand for resource from this market during the first quarter of 2010 and with new budgets leading to new project growth this can only bode well for all concerned.

I am hearing a similar story from a lot of my client base recently and that is that they are getting a lot of nibbles but few committed bites. The positive side of this is that these "bites" are likely to come with the turning of the new financial year and this is likely to lead to a massive scramble for top quality resource. Employers will need to have strong foresight and planning around their prospective resource needs so they can act swiftly when conditions do change as they are forecast to do.

That is my 2 cents worth. Any thoughts and comments most welcome.

Have a great weekend.