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Post Lock-down Market Update for Business Support Roles

Business Support has been pretty badly affected by lock-down, but the need from employers remains. Here, Morgan Whittle gives some insight into the market for good EA’s, PA’s administration and contact centre staff.

1. How has Covid-19 and our lock-down affected the job market in your specialty?

Lock-down significantly affected the Business Support market in a number of ways. We’ve been in a candidate short market for quite a while, with ‘gold star’ employees being so well taken care of they aren’t open to new opportunities. Unfortunately, after Covid-19 there have been a number of restructures, so many of those employees who weren’t interested previously are now looking for their next role. Lock-down has also affected our market in a positive way, showing employers that Administration / Customer Service roles can effectively work from home, which hopefully will allow more flexibility moving forward.

2. What are employers doing or planning to do in response?

Our clients have had to very quickly get their workforce ready and able to work from home. With home offices set up across the country, we have seen a number of clients still not returning to the office in Level 2.  

3. Have you seen more candidates than normal?

We have been inundated with candidates over lock-down whose roles have been affected by Covid-19. We spent lock-down focusing on communicating with candidates and looking after them. We have been helping in any way that we can and were able to put together our candidate care programme, which we have received great feedback from candidates on. Each week we sent out relevant blogs (Video InterviewCV and Cover Letter tips), as well as fun elements such as our Netflix Recommendations. It has been an incredibly tough time for many awesome people, so hopefully we have played a small role in helping them get through.

4. Have you seen more Kiwis returning from overseas (or inquiring about returning?)

We’ve had a handful of candidates return from overseas, but not as many as I had expected. A lot of people are staying overseas (hunkering down) and hoping this will pass quickly.

5. What is happening with contract vs permanent roles?

We anticipated a drop in permanent roles, with the focus being more on temporary in this uncertain market. Whilst there is an increase in temporary roles, many of our clients are still recruiting permanently, which is great! It shows job security and stability for new employees as well as great visibility in the market for the company, as not many employers are advertising currently. 

6. What opportunities are you seeing for employers right now?

The opportunities for employers at the moment are to take learnings from lock-down and continue to implement them for the future. Flexibility is something within Business Support that hasn’t always been on offer, as there has been the mentality that working from home isn’t as effective as having someone in the office. I think a lot of people have realised that you can almost be more effective working from home as you don’t have as many distractions, which works well in many Business Support roles.

7. What opportunities are you seeing for job seekers right now?

Job seekers are having a tough time at the moment, jobs are quite competitive and there aren’t as many listings as the pre-Covid market. We are hearing a lot of candidates are using this time to focus on what they want next and upskilling themselves, which is awesome! There are definitely a few silver linings to this Covid-19 cloud. There is still employment activity happening, but many organisations are quietly doing this, so while it is nowhere near what it was a few months ago, there are still people being placed in roles.

8. What advice do you have for job seekers?

As hard as it may be, take the time to find the right job. A lot of people are stressed, as they weren’t expecting to be in this position. We are actively consulting with a number of candidates who have applied for roles that they normally wouldn’t go for. I always tell them to not sell themselves short. The market won’t be this challenging forever and if they can wait for something they really want, then they’ll be a lot happier.  

9. Which skills continue to be highly sought after by employers, despite current conditions?

Our clients tend to focus on a few sought after attributes more than hard skills. A positive can-do attitude will never steer you wrong. I’m a firm believer in this Simon Sinek quote: “You don’t hire for skills, you hire for attitude. You can always teach skills.”

10. Where do you see the market heading and how can job seekers and employers make the most of it?

We hope that in the Business Support space, once people are back in the office and we move into Level 1 that things will somewhat get back to a sense of normality. We hope that job seekers who were affected by lock-down will have more roles to apply for, and we hope that employers take the learnings I previously mentioned and continue to use them in their business. It would be such a shame for us to move back into pre-Covid conditions, where flexibility in administration roles was somewhat frowned upon.

11. Despite it all, what have you learnt or developed through lock-down and how will it help you move forward?

I have learnt that empathy is one of my personal attributes I am most thankful for. It has helped me a lot to build and strengthen relationships with both clients and candidates during lock-down. I have also learnt a lot about myself, what I struggle with, what I need to do my job effectively and what I can work on. It has been a great time for self-reflection and I hope to utilise what I have learnt moving forward.

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