Total Jobs

Press features

ITEM: Trade press feature

CLIENT: Total Jobs

OVERVIEW: Upbeat press piece countering the negative attitudes in the recruitment industry created by the recession

CREDIT CRUNCH? WHAT CREDIT CRUNCH!

Forget the doom and gloom for a minute. One sector is not just bucking the trend, it’s positively turning it on its head. IT is still buzzing. Most significantly for the recruitment industry, IT professionals are looking long and hard at the jobs market. What’s more, in view of the very nature of the industry, and its inherent culture and skills base, this overwhelmingly means the online jobs market. And one site in particular. CWJobs.co.uk

WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH

First, some background. As stated, the IT sector is continuing to prosper, with high calibre professionals at a premium. How can this be, when all around industries are shedding staff like autumn leaves? Simple, really. As the going gets tough, the tough need to keep going. And given the fundamental importance to almost every manner of organisation these days, this means investing even more in IT systems and personnel. IT is becoming valued as never before, with the tougher economic climate is actually working in its favour. Indeed, it has been reported that as many as 50% of IT directors plan to increase staffing levels over the next year. Just as they dare not compromise spending on crucial IT systems, so the people who develop and maintain them are seen as too integral to risk losing them. Downtime costs money. This is always bad news, but during difficult economic times it can prove terminal, especially for smaller or more volatile businesses. It all makes the right IT skills more crucial than ever, and in response the industry is set to restructure itself at an altogether higher level. Employers will want to make the most of existing employees, as well as recruiting experienced, highly trained staff who can cope with the extra responsibility. In addition to permanent staff, some commentators also see contractors remaining in demand, at least in the short term, more of which later. Margaret Sambell, Director of Strategy at E-Skills UK, the sector skills council, sums up the situation: ‘The extent to which IT is at the heart of companies today means that the effect on the workforce (of the downturn) may be less than it might have been some years ago.’ Carrie Hartnell, Manager of Transformational Business at IT Trade Association Intellect, is similarly upbeat: ‘The credit crunch will certainly bring some changes …. However, businesses are smarter these days and we have seen reports where companies such as HSBC have praised their technology system for reducing the impact of the credit crunch. ….. I also believe that if the industry continues to manage to survive this period without too many scars, the impact … will be hugely positive.’ There is a note of caution, though. Given the extra responsibility, it’s down to IT staff to show they can operate at this higher level. There will also be more pressure to demonstrate they have the most sought-after skills, possibly through recognised, independent qualifications.

ON THE UP

With increased demand for rare skills and a buoyant micro-economic environment, what inevitably happens? Yes, salaries go up! In IT today, companies are busy hiking salaries to attract new and retain existing staff. Indeed, as well as increasing permanent staff numbers over the next year, most senior IT personnel expect salaries to rise as employers hold on to what they’ve got. According to a recent survey, more than half of IT directors interviewed saw salaries for permanent IT staff increasing. None predicted a fall in salaries for permanent staff. There’s more good news, too. Apparently, contractors can look forward to further pay increases as well, with many IT directors expecting rates to rise. This is interesting as it’s been reported in some quarters that more and more IT staff are opting for higher-paid contract work. The trend could explain why IT directors are now becoming aware that they need to raise salaries for permanent staff. Continuing the upbeat theme, fifty-eight per cent of survey interviewees also plan to increase IT projects over the next 12 months, Clearly, confidence is definitely not in short supply! This is in marked contrast to the experience of the dot.com and Y2K booms, when IT staff numbers were decimated. The current situation may be a function of a more restrained hiring policy over recent years, which has meant that there is relatively little fat left to trim. As ever in such market conditions, there is something of a dwonside. Concerns have been expressed about the difficulty attracting candidates of the right calibre. Indeed, some commentators forsee an acute shortages of candidates with key skills, such as internet and project management.

SPECIALIST SKILLS NEED SPECIALIST RECRUITMENT

All of which makes an overwhelming case for using a specialist recruitment agency such as CWJobs. Part of the Totaljobs Group, CWJobs was founded in 1999 and is now a leading player in online IT recruitment. Indeed, the brand boasts the second biggest job board within the entire Totaljobs portfolio. It has an annual turnover of £6.5 million, with offices in London, Manchester, Glasgow, Birmingham and Ireland. CWJobs.co.uk has over 315,000 unique visitors each month, searching for IT jobs across the full range of sectors and locations. These visitors generate over 260,000 job applications, with an average of 20,000 jobs on the site at any one time. Impressive statistics. So what’s the formula? For some time, CWJobs has been perceived in the market as the permanent recruitment specialist, and the site carries more permanent IT jobs than anyone else. This is a key advantage to both jobseekers and recruiters alike. However, as we’ve seen, contract work remains an important sector. Hence CWJobs has now strengthened its position in this area as well. It is rapidly becoming the leading IT specialist site, full stop. This means both short and long term positions. Some telling statistics explain CWJobs’ success. 55% of candidates have either a bachelor’s or master’s degree, which fits the industry trend towards the recruitment of higher calibre personnel. In the same vein, over half are already in full-time roles, with 49% classing themselves as senior staff members and 24% earning between £20k and £40k. The average age is 33, which breaks down to 32 for permanent staff and at 35 a slightly older profile for contract staff. Three quarters are male, with 41% resident in the South East. This figure is lower than 2005, however, and with 66% not having children and just 12% having two or more, it indicates that CWJobs is accessing a geographically mobile population. Most significant of all, a massive 81% are looking for their next career move online. The proverb tells us that every cloud has a silver lining. The ‘credit crunch’ could prove to have a golden one, for the IT and online recruitment industries alike.