Q4 2015 followed on from a relatively positive Q3. Over the last 3 months we have noted a significant increase in short term (1-12 weeks) vacancies with particular demand for receptionist, admin and team assistant roles. This is primarily due to secretarial &support staff on short term notice tendering their resignations, or due to holiday or sickness covers. However with a good volume of candidates in the market who are immediately available these vacancies have been relatively straightforward to fill.
On the permanent side there has been a notable increase in demand at the junior and entry level. This is mainly due to client growth, resulting in a need for additional support, with particular demand for team assistants. In addition, senior candidates are typically reluctant to move at this time of year as bonus season approaches. As a consequence the majority of the roles released by the top tier Asset Managers and Investment Banks were at the junior end of the spectrum where the bonuses paid are significantly lower (5-8% of the total salary).
However, in marked contrast to 1H of 2015, there is now a shortage of permanent candidates in the market with the requisite skill set and 1-3 years’ experience available at short notice. The institutions that have been able to offer opportunities for progression have invariably secured the top tier candidates with strong educational backgrounds that are so greatly in demand.
In general most of the roles released in Q4 were for Team Assistants and many of the more senior Personal Assistant and Executive Assistant roles were either filled internally or via promotion.
One notable change in 2015 has been that many Team Assistant roles now carry additional responsibilities. As well as admin and aspects of office management, in some instances roles these relatively junior roles have included some managerial responsibilities, which has been met with mixed response from candidates.
With the candidate shortage at the junior end of the market, many companies have endeavoured to be more creative in their hiring, often with greater flexibility in terms of educational background. In order to maintain high entry standards some clients have introduced testing which is conducted prior to the interview.
These vary from simple typing speed or audio typing speed tests through to PowerPoint competency and role playing. This additional testing of candidates prior to their face to face interview has proven to be useful, particularly in the current market.
Over the next quarter we expect to see more senior positions come to the market as several Banks and Asset Managers have struggled to find top tier Personal Assistants / Executive Assistants directly. Bonus payments will also certainly result in some movement, with current expectations low for pay-outs after the much publicised redundancies in the press.
We envisage that salaries will become more competitive as we move towards more of a candidate driven market, and firms will need to move quickly during the recruitment process to secure high calibre talent against counter offers.
We also expect to see increased optimism within the market in 2016 with several organisations having major plans for expansion.