Is your role in demand?

Each year recruitment giant Hays Personnel Services interviews Australia’s major employers to find out their hiring, firing and salary intentions for the financial year ahead.

You can see the Hays series of salary surveys on by just clicking on Career Resources and then Dollars & Sense. In the meantime, here is what the experts have to say about your industry.


It has been a challenging year for office support candidates with even highly skilled, experienced staff finding job shopping tough going. Roles in demand include receptionists and office juniors. In the public

sector the roles of executive assistant has been on the rise but not in the private sector.

“Additionally, restructures and technology have further eroded administration roles with job descriptions changing from traditional roles to include areas outside of “office” support such as analysis, resourcing, policy, procurement, sales, IT and research,” says Hays.

In turn this has created a multi-tasking mindset – such as receptionists working on accounts processing.

“As positions are merged employees skills have to be upgraded,” says the report.

Organisations that were unable to merge or upgrade skills made staff redundant and then hired replacement staff with the skills they were after. This also meant that candidates were hitting the market without the skills in demand.

The research also shows that while the role of executive assistant is on the rise in the public sector, in the private sector PA/EAs “have been replaced by more junior multi-skilled roles”. Companies are also keen on using temp to perm candidates to ensure they find the right person for the role. Hays advise candidates to be flexible and to keep building their skills and keeping existing skills sharp.

“Do your research – look at the big picture and discover how a company operates and what its structure is before accepting a permanent role. Ensure it meets your career objectives. “Be flexible on salary requirements as it may be necessary to take a slight drop in your expectations now in order to progress your career further in the future. You will find that working in an environment that you enjoy will automatically create more opportunities.”

July 22, 2003

What’s the Deal with Head Hunting?

By Liz Caxton

“Good morning, may I please speak to Elizabeth Caxton?”

“Yes, Liz Caxton speaking.”

“Arhh … good morning Liz. My name’s Gerard Smythe and I’m calling from Have-We-Got-A-Job-For-You, Australia’s largest headhunting organisation …”

In these days of frequent job switching, it is not unheard of for a recruitment headhunter to call to discuss an opening he or she is currently looking to fill. Receiving such a call is a boost to anyone’s professional ego and is usually extremely flattering. The very fact that you received such a call means that someone ‘out there’ knows who you are and what you do. You’re not merely an anonymous cog in the machine of corporate Australia – you’re a recognised part of it! Yippee! You’re a ‘somebody’ at last!

Yeeeess! Remember though, somebody who’s looking to fill a job for a client now thinks you may be a ‘somebody’. Never take yourself too seriously, you are a potential commission cheque, not God’s gift to the economy!

Naturally be a little flattered, secretly be very flattered if you want, but before you hand in your resignation and start packing up your ‘You don’t have to be crazy to work here – but it helps!’ desk plaque and photos of your nearest and dearest, think about what’s on offer.

Assuming you weren’t actually looking to move companies, just because someone has offered you the possibility of another job do you really want to leave where you are now? Remember, until this unexpected phone call you were quite happy with your lot.

“I felt very settled where I was and was enjoying my role within the company and really liked my colleagues,” recalls network administrator Claire Abbott. “When I got ‘the call’ I felt really flattered and my priorities seemed to change in seconds. Here I was being offered the chance of significantly more money and increased responsibility,” explains Claire. “I leapt at the opportunity of an interview and ended up landing the job in the end. As it turned out the organisation was a shambles and my line manager was such nightmare to work with I ended up resigning after six months!”

Claire’s career experienced this unnecessary blip (from which it has subsequently recovered) because she committed the first sin of the headhunted: she allowed her judgement to be clouded by flattery. Consider any unsolicited career propositions with a clear and unbiased viewpoint. Whoever has rung you may want you – but do you want them? You may be quite happy where you are and with whom you work. If this is the case, don’t change jobs just because someone offers you the opportunity. You don’t eat chocolate if you’re not hungry do you? (Probably not the best analogy, but you know what I mean!)

Equally, just because you’re quite happy with your current position do not dismiss any suggestions out-of-hand. Listen to what the headhunter has to say and allow yourself time to consider the details. (NB: if it’s not convenient to have this discussion at the time the headhunter calls, politely ask if they could call you back, or if you can call them at a more convenient time.)

After you have had time to consider the details let the headhunter know whether or not you are interested. If you are definitely not interested, make this clear and thank them for their interest in you. Be polite – you never know they may have your dream job in the future!

If you are interested, arrange to discuss the opportunity further with the headhunter. At this first meeting, which may be an elimination meeting of several candidates contacted, don’t be surprised if you are not told the name of the headhunter’s client. This is often not disclosed until the final short-list of candidates is drawn up.

Assuming you get through the first interview and make it to the second, consider the job being offered as you would any other job you had applied for. Carry out the usual pre-employment research on the company; if they are a listed company request a copy of their latest annual report and accounts (this is a public document, they are obliged to provide it to anyone who asks for it). Is the job really what you’re looking for? Is it paying enough? Will the management structure suit your professional style: for example is it democratic? Team-orientated? Results-orientated? Whatever, is it you?

If at this stage you are not happy to proceed any further, let the headhunter know, thank them for their time and return to your pre-headhunted life. Assuming it’s offered, and you wish to take the job, accept subject to receiving a formal letter of offer.

Before you resign from your current position, consider discussing your situation with your present employer. If you are moving companies primarily for more money, perhaps your current employer can match your ‘new’ salary. But be careful when accepting a counter-offer: money may seem like the answer to your prayers, but it seldom is when it comes to work. If you’d consider moving companies for more money, there’s usually something else that’s not going right for you as well.

“I’d been approached by a headhunter for a position at a competitor’s. I was interviewed and offered the job and was really excited about accepting the role – it was a real feather in my cap because the competitor was performing much better than we were. Their whole corporate culture was much more appealing and I really respected my to-be colleagues,” recounts brand manager Sally Thorne.

“To my surprise, during my resignation meeting, my employer offered to increase my salary to significantly more than I was being offered by the competitor. I thought about it for a couple of days and then decided to accept the increase and stay. Big mistake! After four or five months on my new super-huge salary I realised that the money wasn’t making me enjoy my job anymore than I had done previously. The reason I was so keen to leave in the first place was because I didn’t like the internal politics and the inflexibility of management to new ideas.”

In summary, if you’re approached by a recruitment headhunter, remain calm and rational. The job you’re being considered for may not be your dream job, but it might be just the exit you’re looking for … don’t let the door close on you before you’ve looked at all the angles.

February 2, 2001