Employer Insights

Australia and U.S. Job Market Update: August 2014

Mark Smith Posted by Mark
min read
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In our series comparing recruitment and job seeking around the world, we first explored resume formats and then discussed how recruitment agencies are structured. Today, Mark Smith of people2people and Will Thomson of Bulls Eye Recruiting share their insight into the current state of the job market in Australia and the United States. 

Mark Smith, people2people: If you are little unsure of exactly what the job market is doing right now in Australia, you would not be alone. There are many conflicting messages being sent by economic indicators and commentators alike, so here are my thoughts on the current situation:

  • Unemployment based on trend estimates remains steady at 5.9% in Australia.

  • New South Wales is doing okay on the back of improvements in the property and construction sector.

  • Temporary and contract work continues to be robust, as confirmed by people2people's experience.

  • The permanent market is relatively strong for jobs listed with agencies, but these are for hard to fill technical roles or sales related positions.

  • Many transactional roles in the accounting and finance sector are being 'offshored', leaving fewer opportunities for those being made redundant and those looking for entry level positions in accounting and finance.

  • Executive and senior roles in accounting and finance are very scarce. Many executives are spending extended periods out of work.

  • The banking and finance sector is finally hiring again after many years in decline. Funds management remains robust.

  • Sales and business development professionals, particularly business to business, remain in high demand.

  • Human resources is very competitive at the moment, particularly at the executive level.

  • Supply chain and operations is relatively strong and is not affected by the offshoring trend being experienced by other sectors.

  • Administration and secretarial positions are available, but mainly for temporary positions. Permanent roles, including executive and personal assistants, are not in high demand, and this represents the continuing trend in this market.

  • Legal support staff is in high demand. Firms are demanding previous experience within their areas of law, and many candidates will have several opportunities from which to choose. Firms are reluctant, however, to increase salaries to reflect the high demand.

  • Customer service officers are plentiful in the market, and, consequently, companies looking to hire believe they can demand specific industry experience before making a hiring decision. This results in a lot of frustration for job seekers in this market.

Overall, the job market in Australia is in transition, as jobs move from the mining services sector to the construction and property sectors. Similarly, support roles in administration, finance et al are also shifting industries. If you are an employer, you will still find it hard to find the very best talent, and if you are looking for a new job, you will be surprised that the market is not as buoyant as an unemployment rate of 5.9% would suggest. 

Will Thomson


Will Thomson, Bulls Eye Recruiting: Thanks Mark.  That is some great information.  The United States is rebounding.  In 2008, the United States was turned upside down, and the unemployment rate was higher that it had been in years.  

We truly were in a recession.  I would say even today we are still rebounding from the recession.  You can usually count on unemployment benefits for around six months.  The federal government extended the unemployment benefits to 47 weeks for a time, but that was discontinued in 2013.   

The sad part is we really don't know what happened to the people once their unemployment benefits ran out. Currently, the unemployment rate in the U.S. is around 6.2%.  People are getting jobs, although some are still underemployed.  In the United States, there are far more people than jobs available.  Culture is extremely important, as having the skills for the job doesn't seem to be the main hiring objective.  

The positions are very niche, and employers are being very particular in who they hire. Jobs that affect the bottom line are still seen as critical roles. It is not uncommon for someone to do the job that two or three people used to do.  

Sales technical, and leadership jobs tend to be the main roles that people are interested in hiring for at this point.  

Education, experience, and technical expertise are at a premium.  It is imperative to keep up with the latest technology and trends. With a whole new group of individuals (also known as Millennials) entering the workforce, longevity with an organization is not seen as important as learning new skills.  

Because of this, many people in the United States are self employed or are contract employees. Obamacare has made it where everyone has to have benefits, so having company benefits is not a key driver as it once was. I am glad, though, that things are improving in the United States.  Requisitions are plentiful, and hiring is abundant.  

It is great that we are seeing this in the United States.  

Being a recruiter in a recession proves to be a very difficult profession.

What's your experience with the current job market? Let us know and download a free copy of people2people's market report here.