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Navigating Uncertain Times: Insights From Our Video Podcast

Navigating Uncertain Times: Insights From Our Video Podcast
In the wake of COVID-19 restrictions, uncertainty is rife in the New Zealand job market, and employers and jobseekers alike are asking about both how to navigate the current conditions and what they should expect in the coming months.

To help, we recorded our first ever video podcast, where a panel of Senior Consultants from across our business answered some of the common questions we’ve been getting and provided their analysis of the present and future market.

The panel members included Paul O’Donovan, a Manager in the Christchurch Technology space, Clare O'Sullivan, Manager of our Technology and Accounting & Finance teams in Auckland, Tom McMorran, our Consulting Manager for Sales & Marketing in Auckland, and James Brodey, a Senior Consultant based in our Wellington office. Over the course of the conversation, they shed light on the changes they’ve been seeing across New Zealand and drew comparisons based on their collective experience of past disasters such as 9/11, the Christchurch Earthquakes and the GFC.

Here are some of the key insights they discussed:

The Impact of Alert Level 4 on the Permanent and Contract Job Market

As the country moved into Level 4, we saw hiring start to go on hold gradually, and then much more rapidly, as businesses chose to wait and see what would happen:

  • Despite the general pause on hiring, there were still pockets of work going on within industries considered “essential” such as grocery suppliers and security firms
  • New Zealand took the lead from what was happening globally, and there was a greater slowdown among internationally owned companies than in those that were Australian or New Zealand owned
  • A key concern for many employers was the uncertainty around onboarding people in a remote environment
  • Around 80% of recruitment processes for contractors went on hold at Alert Level 4, with the exception being essential services that required a contingent workforce

Changes to Salary and Rate Expectations

As a result of the lockdown, we’ve seen changes to both the pay that organisations will offer and in the expectations of jobseekers:

  • There have been well-publicised pay cuts across the country, with many people taking 10-20% reductions to their salaries
  • We’re seeing that people are more negotiable with the roles that they will consider, as well as the rates they will look to be paid
  • There's always going to be a high demand for good skills and they'll continue to be paid well
  • Employers should keep in mind that candidates settling for lower pay in the current climate will be more inclined to jump ship when they get a better offer

How Candidates Can Stand Out in a Competitive Job Market

With a lot of competition for the few roles that are out there right now, it’s vital for candidates to find ways to differentiate themselves:

  • The best way to stand out is to be focused on your job search, be very clear on what you are looking for, tailor your application to the role and tap into your network
  • This is an opportunity for people to think outside the box and understand how to market their transferrable skills
  • It’s also a good chance to upskill, take online certifications and learn more about your role and industry

The Effect of Alert Level 3 on the Job Market

While no-one can predict the long-term impact, it’s likely that activity will pick up once the initial shock wears off and businesses get moving again, similar to what happened in the aftermath of 9/11:

  • The next couple of weeks may continue to be uncertain, but we predict that, in time, the economy will begin to bounce back
  • This will be a different scenario to the GFC, both because the economy isn’t fundamentally broken, and because companies are operating at a much leaner capacity than they were then and will need to start hiring in order to get back on their feet
  • While we need to keep a watchful eye on the global situation, when it comes to our bubble within New Zealand, we can be reasonably optimistic

What the “New Normal” Might Look Like

Just as we saw after the Christchurch Earthquake, it’s likely that the pandemic will fundamentally change the way we live and work:

  • Employers will start thinking differently about the makeup of the workforce, opting for more contractors, remote workers and part-timers instead of just permanent full-time staff
  • We're going to see a lot more organisations look at how they can utilise technology for the future, such as investing more in video conferencing in place of face-to-face meetings
  • There will quicker and more agile decision making, with less red tape to slow down the process

Find Out More

This is just a small selection of the insights discussed during the podcast, so be sure to view the whole episode below to hear analysis of the current and future job market. We hope you find it useful!

If you have any questions or would like further details about what we discussed in this podcast, feel free to email us at or reach out to our team for specialist hiring and job search support across New Zealand.
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