Business & Finance talks to Orla Moran, general manager of IrishJobs.ie about the state of play in the labour market – and what employers and employees look for.
Recruiters have a unique overview of a country’s economy, and are able to spot trends and make predictions before they show up in official statistics. Orla Moran, general manager of IrishJobs, is in a better position than most: her company tracks the market carefully, and it’s good news for candidates.
“The jobs market is thriving,” she reports. “We monitor the number of jobs advertised online in our Jobs Index and our most recent index reported a 19% increase on the number of jobs posted in Q1 2015. In the past year the balance in the market has swung back to candidates, with companies having to chase in-demand talent.”
IrishJobs.ie has been a major force in a competitive industry for over 20 years, a success that Moran puts down to innovation, dedication to customer service and a focus on the candidate. As general manager for the last seven years she has witnessed key changes and challenges for employers and employees alike.
“Changes in jobseeker behaviour have been driven by technological advances,” she explains. “As an online business one of the biggest changes and challenges for us has been the rise and rise of mobile. Compared to seven years ago more people now come to IrishJobs.ie via a mobile device – either a tablet or a smartphone.” They recognised the shift by introducing the native app, IrishJobs.ie, and by making the site responsive, so visitors get the same experience on IrishJobs.ie on a phone, tablet or desktop.
“The downturn also had an impact,” she says. “Employees are now more aware of the need to keep their skills up to date and to stay adaptable to changes in the job market while companies recognise the value of well-trained and flexible staff.”
BUST AND BOOM
Naturally enough, IrishJobs.ie felt the impact of the downturn quicker than other industries, because the first thing many companies did was cut back on their hiring. On the flip-side, they also experienced the recovery early – and could see it evidenced in the Jobs Index.
“Even during the downturn companies still needed to recruit. We have great relationships with the companies who advertise with us and, more importantly, we consistently deliver for them,” says Moran.
“We focused on efficiency and adopted new processes that still work well for us today. We also adapted our services to meet the changing needs of the market. It meant that, during the recession, many customers stayed with us throughout. Now that the economy is in recovery they are increasing their business with us and the customers we worked with in the past are returning because they know we will help them find the best people for their business.”
RAISING THE BAR
The recovery has meant the balance shifting in the market back to candidates, she says: companies now have to compete for the best people. “Consequently we are seeing a new emphasis on the importance of employer brand, companies are focused on promoting themselves as good places to work, committed to their staff’s professional and personal progression.”
Multinationals, too, have influenced the jobs market: Moran says that they have arguably raised the bar in terms of employer brand.
“The focus on workplace culture, career progression and all the extras such as free snacks have had an impact on the job market. Many have also established relationships with colleges implementing excellent graduate programmes which will enrich the talent available to all recruiters.
“As the demand for talent increases, many Irish companies will have to up their game in terms of focus on employer branding, distinctive workplace culture and the unique opportunities offered by smaller companies in order to compete for the best staff.”
The best places to work are those that recognise the talent of their employees and that strive to support their ambitions
Even so, there can be skills gaps, particularly for experienced professionals in specialised areas of IT. Experience is also lacking in accountancy and language skills areas.
“There is no doubt we have the talent here but, in some areas, it’s the years of experience that is in short supply. IrishJobs.ie is part of the Network, an international alliance of the world’s leading recruitment websites, which gives us access to leading recruitment websites around the world so we are able to facilitate international recruitment and to reach out to Irish ex-pats whenever needed.
A GOOD FIT
Around 11,000 jobs are advertised on the site at any given time, and Moran and her team have recently introduced a system of company reviews. “We could see the increasing value companies were placing on employer brand and a corresponding appreciation of the importance of peer to peer reviews. Simply put, the time was right to introduce company reviews,” she says. “From a jobseeker perspective people want to find a company that realises their worth. From a company point of view a recruiter wants to find a good fit for their workplace. We launched company reviews earlier this year and our initial finding shows just how much stock our reviewers place on a good workplace culture.”
The focus on workplace culture, career progression and all the extras have had an impact
THE BEST OF THE BEST
So what are the best companies to work for in Ireland, and why? “The companies that recognise the talent of their employees and that strive to support their professional ambitions,” says Moran. “Also, those companies that have flexibility built into their DNA, by that I mean they accommodate all the day to day realities of people’s lives (caring duties, children etc). These companies are in demand with candidates and also command tremendous staff retention and loyalty.”
Her advice to jobhunters and those contemplating a move is to keep your skills up to date, and recognise your skillset and experience. Then identify a company that reflects your values and is committed to helping you develop professionally.
As for employers, “it’s no longer just about the skills,” she says. “It’s about finding people with commitment and flexibility who will work with them to build the business.”