Archive for March, 2009
Sunday Business Post – Recruitment Section – Mar 29 2009
Read the article on the Sunday Business Post website by clicking here.
SurvivingRedundancy.ie, launched at the start of the month, also offers paid-for outplacement services to companies managing redundancies.
Sarah Kelly, manager of SurvivingRedundancy.ie, said the site was launched in response to growing demand for outplacement services in the marketplace, in tandem with the recent drop-off in recruitment activity.
In operation since 1987,The Panel provides recruitment services to employers and candidates in the services and legal sectors, funds, banking, IT and accountancy, from its office on Northumberland Road in Dublin.
‘‘The development of the website has really been driven by demand from our key clients, due to the number of redundancies taking place at the moment,” said Kelly. ‘‘We want to diversify our business, as it has slowed down for us on the recruitment side. We want to use our expertise in recruitment to provide a service in a different shape and form, which people need now.”
SurvivingRedundancy.ie includes information on the core financial issues facing people who have been made redundant. Topics include jobseekers’ allowance and benefit entitlements along with pension, tax and mortgage advice. For employers, the issues addressed include treating employees fairly and a guide to short-term working arrangements. The site also offers career , interview and CV pointers.
Kelly said the site, which showcases content provided by The Panel’s managing director Brendan Burgess – who is also managing director of consumer finance site Askabout money.com – has clocked up over 3,000 unique visitors.
‘‘For us, it is a mixture of offering a very comprehensive information source, and also selling outplacement services on the back of that. The information on the site shows that we know what we are talking about and that we are absolutely on hand to deliver outplacement services,” said Kelly.
Kelly joined The Panel in 2004 as head of its legal recruitment division, The Legal Panel. She said the 15 recruiters working with the company were involved in the new range of outplacement services.
‘‘I am still managing the legal side of our recruitment business, but I am also now managing Surviving Redundancy,” she said. ‘‘Our other consultants are working on Surviving Redundancy too. If an individual from a banking background comes to us for outplacement, we can sit them down with our banking recruitment experts to talk about the options.”
Kelly said many of the company’s existing clients had little experience of managing outplacement programmes.
‘‘We have offered advice to companies as they have been growing over the years. Now, they are going through a downsizing period,” she said.
‘‘It is uncharted waters, really, for a lot of people, particularly employers who have not gone through a redundancy process before. We have a lot of market knowledge built up over 22 years of advising people on their careers.”
With its new range of outplacement services, The Panel is targeting potential customers across all sectors.
‘‘We are offering the outplacement services in all the sectors that The Panel recruits for – financial services, legal, funds, banking, IT and accountancy – but also areas in which we do not,’’ Kelly said.
‘‘We are on hand to help people from all sectors, because the elements of our outplacement programme work across the board. Strategic job search, CV design and interview techniques are useful for all sectors. We also offer an occupational psychology service to individuals or companies.”
While overall demand for recruitment is low in the current market, Kelly said The Panel was working on some ‘targeted’ projects.
‘‘It is certainly quieter than this time last year, and I think every recruitment company will tell you the same thing,” she said. ‘‘There are pockets of recruitment going on, but it is hard to say which sectors of the economy are busier. Accountancy continues to be busy for us, and we are doing some overseas work as well in Luxembourg and Britain, which is keeping us ticking along.”
When positions become available, the salaries on offer are much lower than corresponding rates 12 months ago, Kelly said.
‘‘Salaries are down by 10 or 20 per cent, and candidates are being realistic about the situation. We are seeing that in all sectors. I have seen salaries come down by €20,000.”
Kelly said she could not predict recruitment trends for the remainder of the year, given the continued instability in the economy.
‘‘The situation is changing every month, so it is hard to know. If the market picks up again, and we all hope that it does, then recruitment will be the most important part of The Panel’s business,” she said.
‘‘If the markets do not pick up, then the outplacement part will probably be busier. At the moment, it is a mixed bag.”
Sunday Business Post – New Business Section – Mar 22 2009
Read the article on the Sunday Business Post website by clicking here.
Deals adding up to €105 million were signed this week by 23 Irish companies during an Enterprise Ireland (EI) trade mission to the US. A total of 92 Irish companies from across all sectors – from technology to consumer products, and engineering and life sciences – including eight companies from Northern Ireland, took part in the trip.
The companies announcing deals included Meath firm Dromone Engineering, Cork clothing company Premium Golf Brands (PGB), Bord na Mona Environmental, and Galway-based online learning provider Alison. Lily O’Briens Chocolates also announced plans to open its first-ever US cafe.
Tom Cusack, director, Americas, EI, said the mission – the first to the US in 20 years – was well timed, given the challenges facing Irish companies doing business in the US.
‘‘We had a wide range of companies from across all the sectors announcing business,” said Cusack. ‘‘It is very important in this climate that companies show dedication to the market, and that they do not take for granted the relationships and business that they have here in the US. It is important to spend as much face time in the market as you possibly can.”
Figures compiled by Enterprise Ireland show that the US is Ireland’s second-biggest export market. It was worth €1.28 billion to Irish companies last year, up from€1.247 billion in 2007.
Despite the downturn, Cusack said the mood was more optimistic in the US than elsewhere at present, with the recent inauguration of Barack Obama.
‘‘Nothing has dramatically changed in the economic arena since President Obama took over, but there is a noticeable shift in attitude,” said Cusack. ‘‘Within any economic downturn, there is opportunity. There is a lot of doom and gloom at home, but the attitude in the US is not as bad.”
Some recent signs have indicated that some sort of recovery may be imminent in the US economy, Cusack said.
‘‘Our view is that the US market will start to pick up by the end of 2009.That would be an optimistic view, but certainly in the last week we have seen the markets hold up quite well,” he said. ‘‘Some of the banks that were considered to be in great difficulty have also started to pick up. I would be confident that we will see a turn by the final quarter of 2009.”
The difficult economic climate meant that many US companies were currently looking for new suppliers or partners who could help them to save money, Cusack said.
‘‘Irish companies are now getting access to companies in the US that they would not previously had got into,” he said. ‘‘Buyers are open to meeting new vendors now to see what value proposition they can offer. There is no doubt that companies will have to work hard, but there are opportunities.”
Companies taking part in the EI trip had the opportunity to meet with government figures in Washington DC. Cusack said there were opportunities for companies arising out of the large stimulus packages unveiled by the new Obama administration.
‘‘A number of experts from within the new administration came in to speak with us on how to deal with the new administration and take advantage of opportunities within the new Recovery and Reinvestment Act,” he said.
Irish enterprise stateside
More than 200 Irish companies in 1,300 locations employ over 82,000 US citizens in American operations, according to Enterprise Ireland. For new companies keen to do business in the US, Cusack advised them to establish a presence stateside.
‘‘US buyers need to see that the potential supplier is committed to the market,” he said. ‘‘EI has incubation units here in New York – office space that people can set up in. This gives them an address and also the endorsement of the Irish government. It shows that the company is here for the long run, not just a hit-and-run sale.”
Smaller companies and recent start-ups looking to crack the US market should consider partnering with an experienced distributor, Cusack said.
‘‘My first advice would be to look for a partner here. However, you cannot just come in and get a distributor and just leave them to sell the product. You have to spend time with the distributor or partner, to build the trust between both parties,” he said.
Cusack also advised companies to concentrate on individual markets within the US.
‘‘The US is such a vast market, that you need to take it in bite sizes. Some people concentrate on the East Coast or the West Coast, or even look at individual states,” he said.
Cusack advised Irish companies moving into the US market to commit themselves fully to the move.
‘‘It is often about sending over your best person,” he said. ‘‘It should not be someone who is just looking to spend six months in the US, or a graduate coming on board. You should send your best salesperson over. It is such a big market, and it should not be skimped on.”
Irish companies looking to grow their business in the US should take advantage of the strong historical links between the two countries, Cusack said.
‘‘We get more than our fair share of coverage here, as a country,” he said. ‘‘A lot of business is built around relationships and networks, and the reach of Irish America is huge. Irish American executives tend to be very willing to do introductions, to help Irish companies and to offer strategic advice, in most cases free of charge.”
Cusack said Irish start-ups that had an American multinational based in Ireland as a reference customer, would enjoy significant advantages when looking for new business in the US.
‘‘If you have a reference site related to a US company, in Ireland or anywhere in Europe, it is definitely a door-opener here. Then it is much easier to knock on doors,” he said.
Sunday Business Post – Recruitment Section – Mar 15 2009
Read the article on the Sunday Business Post website by clicking here.
There are abundant job opportunities abroad, but it is important to think about what a move will mean for you, writes Dermot Corrigan.
Soaring rates of unemployment at home are prompting a growing number of workers to leave Ireland in search of work overseas.
Hamish Reid, a senior consultant in Sigmar Recruitment’s international financial services division, said that more and more candidates were considering emigration as their only means to escape long-term unemployment.
‘‘We have seen more candidates who are more open to moving abroad,” said Reid. ‘‘They tend to have been looking for work in Ireland for a period of time, and then they decide they might want to broaden their options.”
According to the most recent available statistics from the Central Statistics Office, 45,300 people left Ireland to work abroad in the year to the end of April 2008.This is the highest annual emigration figure the country has seen since 1990.
Caroline Kilbane, marketing manager for Ireland with Grafton Recruitment, said she expected a significant rise in the corresponding figure for this year, though it has not yet been published.
‘‘Given the uncertainty in the current labour market, we would definitely expect that more and more Irish people will be searching for job opportunities overseas. We would expect more Irish workers to emigrate due to increasing levels of unemployment here,” said Kilbane.
Stephen McLarnon, chief executive of SGMC Group, said the motivation behind the decision to emigrate was changing for a lot of people. SGMC organises exhibitions showcasing work opportunities overseas.
‘‘In the past, it was people’s choice to leave,” said McLarnon. ‘‘When the economy was booming, people cited the high cost of living, expensive housing and the poor quality of life as a reason for emigrating. In the current challenging economic environment, people will find they have no choice but to leave.”
McLarnon said that the majority of overseas destinations favoured by Irish emigrants were also bearing the brunt of the global recession.
He added, however, that some had been worse hit than others.
‘‘The global downturn has left no country untouched. However, Canada is stronger than most and job opportunities exist in Australia,” said McLarnon. ‘‘Australia added 1,200 new jobs in January 2009, when all other countries around the world recorded significant growth in unemployment. New Zealand has a big demand for primary school teachers. Dubai has slowed considerably, but opportunities do exist in Sweden and Norway.”
Kilbane said the jobs market in Canada was buoyant.
‘‘Canada is experiencing its lowest unemployment rate in 30 years and enjoying unprecedented economic growth,” she said. ‘‘As labour shortages increase, the Canadian government has introduced numerous migration programmes to locate skilled migrants to fill vacancies from entry-level to senior positions. Between 129,300 and 144,600 visas have been made available for 2009.”
Australia is popular with Irish individuals looking for experience overseas. Employers there look favourably on candidates with good qualifications, according to Kilbane.
‘‘Australia is already an extremely popular destination for highly skilled young people,” she said. ‘‘The country’s economy is strong and Australia is actively encouraging the immigration of skilled migrants. Ski l led migrants wishing to work in Australia are assessed on a points-based system, with points awarded for work experience, qualifications and language proficiency.”
Closer to home
Reid said many Irish candidates looking to emigrate favoured destinations closer to home. ‘‘When people say they are flexible in going abroad, it often means mainland Europe,” he said. ‘‘People like being able to come back every few months. For example, IT contractors who get an excellent daily rate can often commute at weekends or maybe work just four days a week abroad.”
Some financial services professionals were leaving the country on the trail of jobs that had been relocated overseas, Reid said.
‘‘There are a lot of financial services companies moving to Poland, because financial institutions can save money out there,” he said. ‘‘India is another option. People are more likely to consider Poland, however, as India is seen as a different world by some people.”
Letrecia Tippett, a director of Premier Group, said the Channel Islands offered some opportunities in the financial services sector.
‘‘We are getting a lot of jobs in from clients in the Channel Islands, and finding a lot of interest from candidates in those,” Tippett said. ‘‘This is especially true in areas like fund accounting, which has slowed down considerably in the Dublin market. The Channel Islands offer relatively high salaries, and they are close to home.”
Until recently, Reid said the Middle East had offered opportunities to Irish candidates in construction. ‘‘The employment situation is not fantastic in Dubai now,” he said. ‘‘That was a solution for a lot of people in construction, but it is not any more.”
Kilbane said that the profile of the Irish emigrant had changed in the last 12 months.
‘‘This time last year, the young, skilled, single and flexible element of society was most likely to go abroad in search of work,” she said.
‘‘Their general motivations included broadening their horizons and gaining valuable career experience abroad. However, now more senior and skilled individuals are beginning to think about relocating entire families to obtain a greater sense of security in the face of increasing uncertainty.”
Reid said younger candidates tended to be more open to travelling further to find work. ‘‘It tends to be younger people who would always have considered maybe going abroad anyway, whether to mainland Europe or somewhere like Australia,” he said.
‘‘They feel that now might be a good time to combine taking that year away, and also getting some work experience.” More experienced candidates are more interested in contract positions, with a limited time frame, than permanent relocation.
‘‘Older people who are very experienced would often consider working on a contract abroad,” said Reid. ‘‘They may not be interested in moving abroad permanently, as they have family or other commitments here, but they would consider commuting for a period of time.”
Tippett said some individuals viewed a move abroad as a way to fast-track their career progression.
‘‘Some people might want experience or a skill set that they have difficulty getting over here. Hardship posts tend to allow people to jump a few slots in their career,” she said.
Kilbane advised candidates considering emigration to tailor their CV to match the requirements of the overseas market they are targeting.
‘‘Before moving abroad, you need to think seriously about the skills that you have to offer, and identify which countries have skills shortages in your sector,” said Kilbane. ‘‘Skilled migrants will generally find it easier to obtain employment.”
Tippett, who herself emigrated to Ireland in the late 1990s, advised anyone considering a move abroad to think carefully about all of the implications.
‘‘I know first-hand that, when you relocate to another country, there are a lot of things that you do not think about,” Tippett said. ‘‘People always talk about the fact that changing jobs is very stressful, but so is moving house and moving country. You have to be really committed to doing it.”
Recruiters placing candidates in jobs overseas use a thorough selection process.
‘‘There are very different processes for recruiting somebody who wants to move abroad, as opposed to somebody who is changing jobs in their own country,” she said.
‘‘The job and the money should be the second part of the process. The first part is asking whether you have really considered what it will mean to move.
‘‘Have you discussed the move with your family and friends? Do you have financial or emotional commitments that might stop you travelling? How long are you prepared to commit to being away?
‘‘Have you considered what you will do when, or if, you come back?
‘‘Most people have not thought of all of that. We ask them to go away and think about that, before talking about particular jobs or locations.”
Kilbane advised candidates to talk to potential employers or recruitment agents about relocation packages designed to help them settle into a new environment.
‘‘It is really important to negotiate settlement or relocation arrangements as part of your contract,” said Kilbane.
‘‘A reputable recruitment agency will help you with everything from opening bank accounts to finding accommodation and even finding a school for your children, but services differ.
‘‘Weurge candidates to activate networks, contacts and relatives to gain invaluable insights into opportunities and support systems that may be available in their destination countries.
‘‘Social networking makes this increasingly easier.”
Working Abroad Expo
SGMC Group’s Working Abroad Expo takes place in the RDS, Dublin, on March 21-22 and the Silver Springs Moran Hotel, Cork, on March 26-27.
‘‘The departments of immigration from Australia, New Zealand and Canada will be hosting seminars at each exhibition,” said Stephen McLarnon, chief executive of SGMC Group.
‘‘They will provide unbiased, accurate visa information for each of their countries. This is useful as neither the Australian nor Canadian embassies in Ireland processes migration visas, and New Zealand does not have an embassy in Ireland. Other exhibitors include employers and recruitment agencies covering construction, engineering, medical, nursing, social worker (Britain), financial services (Poland) and service providers such as removal companies, banks, foreign exchange, working holiday providers, TEFL course providers and volunteering overseas and internship services.”
Sunday Business Post – Computers in Business Magazine – Mar 01 2009
Read the article on the Sunday Business Post website by clicking here.
In the current economic climate, IT professionals who can help potential future employers to cut costs are highly sought after. Fergal Keys, manager at IT Panel, said that specialists in technologies which helped companies to make their business more efficient were very much in demand.
“Clients are looking at investing in technologies that will reduce costs,” Keys said.” That might mean investing and upgrading systems. That is leading to new project management type roles. Everyone is looking at their bottom line and how they can do things better.”
This is leading to specialists in customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems being highly sought after, according to Keys.
“The CRM and ERP areas are important at the moment,” he said. “Business intelligence (BI) and SAP candidates are in demand. That side of the market is busy.”
Aoife Donnelly, director at Next Generation Recruitment, said that companies were looking to hire business intelligence and consumer insight specialists due to challenging market conditions.
“Business intelligence and data and consumer insight analysis candidates are in demand as businesses look for trends and patterning to see where consumers are spending revenue,” said Donnelly.
“Product patterning and consumption trends are being delivered straight back into the business, so that production can be aligned to meet demand, particularly in the FMCG [fast-moving consumer goods] space. IT is critical for that swift turnaround so that a company can maximise revenue.”
Colin Donnery, general manager at FRS Recruitment, said organisations were looking to hire people with virtualisation skills.
“Virtualisation can have massive cost savings for large organisations and it has been the main area of growth for us in the last number of months,” said Donnery. “Ireland has companies based here at the forefront of the technology, so it should lead to a steady stream of jobs in the next number of years.”
Aoife Donnelly said the spread of unified communications (UC) technology had lead to a requirement for suitably qualified candidates.
“Unified communications is in serious demand resulting in high need for engineers with voice and data skills,” she said.” The Cisco certifications and Call Manager and IPT Contact Centre skills are in demand.”
Siobhan Ryan, HR and IT resourcing manager at Ergo IT Resourcing, said there would continue to be strong demand for candidates with SharePoint skills and experience.
“SharePoint is the latest in-demand technology and there appears to be a significant lack of skilled resources available in Ireland,” Ryan said.” Demand for skills in this area will definitely increase in 2009 and into 2010.”
A good number of employers were also looking to fill multimedia-type roles at present, according to Donnery.
“The gaming industry is picking up massively in Ireland,” he said.” Anyone with Web 2.0 skills is also doing well.”
Ryan said that candidates with solid development skills were always in demand.
“There is still a good level of demand for Agile Developers for permanent roles,” said Ryan.” We also continue to see strong demand for Java skill sets, J2EE, back-end and front-end and developers with strong C#, ASP and .NET skills.”
Donnery agreed that companies were looking for strong developers at present.
“.Net, Java, and to a lesser extent Care the technologies where there is still plenty of work,” he said. “Anyone with solid skills in these areas should be able to find work at the moment. We placed a Java developer with about six years’ experience with a financial software company in October. The company then got into trouble in December, and we had him in another job by the second week of January.”
Keys said that, despite the doom and gloom, there were still companies looking to recruit IT professionals this year.
“If you just read the newspapers, you would wonder what was happening, but talking to clients and candidates and other people in the industry, IT roles are still out there,” he said.” A number of big clients are stil l going through the projects to be rolled out in 2009.That will then determine their recruitment for the year.”
Donnery said there were fewer roles around now than 12 months ago, with the financial services sector particularly quiet.
“In terms of numbers of jobs we are definitely down on last year, particularly in the Dublin market, but it is quite sector specific,” he said.” Within the finance industry, the numbers are way down on last year.”
Ryan said that some of the bigger traditional IT employers were not hiring at present.
“In general, bigger multinationals are not hiring with a lot employing strict headcount freezes as a standard policy for 2009,” she said.” Some consultancy companies are hiring, albeit at a lower level than normal; however, you also see some of the bigger consultancies, like Accenture, announcing redundancies.”
Donnelly said there was more demand for candidates coming from smaller companies in the current climate.
“There are SMEs hiring and there are consultancies hiring, but they are more the smaller operations as the larger are in trimming mode,” she said.
Levels of opportunities
Most of the IT opportunities available at the moment were in mid-level positions, Ryan said.
“We see steady demand for mid-level resources,” she said.” There is really no demand for entry-level roles and we have seen little movement or demand at the senior level.”
Donnelly agreed that senior IT vacancies were scarce at present.
“There is really limited movement at the senior end at the moment,” she said. “Mid-range there is more movement up to the €65k range as it’s a less risky decision to make.”
Ryan said that contracting positions in particular were hard to find, leading contractors to consider full time roles.
“We have witnessed a significant decline in contract opportunities in the marketplace,” she said.
“The contract market was practically non existent during the latter half of 2008, however there has been some slight upturn so far in 2009.We have seen a huge increase in the number of long-term contractors who are now focused on securing full time permanent employment. These individuals now value job security and an overall package more than contracting’s higher earnings potential.”
However, Donnelly said that the current tight labour market favoured contractors with high-end or in demand skill sets.
“If you are experienced and expensive, go contracting,” she said.” You should be able to retain a higher annual return by working this way even if you are working less days a week. Companies looking for an experienced resource are having difficulty getting it signed off through HR.”
Ryan said salaries for IT professionals in Ireland were currently stable.
“There has been a stabilisation of permanent salaries in the last six months in particular,” she said. “Most IT professionals currently working are realistic enough to know that the trend at the moment is towards reducing salaries and salary cuts in a lot of instances, so demands for increases would not be entertained at the present time.”
Keys said that employers were generally offering smaller packages for new positions than previously.
“We are definitely getting people saying a role might have been worth €75k last year, but we can fil l it for €60k or €65k this year,” he said.” It is without doubt a tougher market.”
Donnelly said that salaries for general roles were falling quicker than those for positions that required specialised skills.
“Salaries for jobs that require a broader technical skillset are dropping further than the more niche technical roles that are system or product suite specific,” she said. “Broader roles have easier transferable characteristics and therefore there is a wider pool of candidates eligible to do them.”
Keys said that IT professionals knew that they had to be realistic with their salary demands.
“Peoples’ expectations are in line with market reality,” he said.” People made good money while the sun shone, and now they are happy to reduce their expectations, based on the current market environment. If they do not do that, they wil l find it hard to get a job.”
Donnelly said that candidates should consider more than just their take-home pay when weighing up potential new jobs.
“Salary expectations for 2009 should be tempered and it is better to be in a role than not,” she said. “When going for a role consider what you want to look like technically in two years time and then weigh up what that is worth to you. You are investing in your future for the long term not the short.”
Donnery said that IT professionals in a job were generally not looking to move.
“People are sitting tight, and thinking that they are ok where they are for the moment, and they will see what happens with the market,” he said.” People seem to be a bit afraid to move at the moment.”
Donnery said that employers were much less likely now to take on a candidate who was not an exact fit for the vacancy.
“Clients are quite fussy now, they are looking for the add-ons and extra development tools that candidates have,” said Donnery. “They might have previously taken on a solid Java candidate and trained him up in something like EJP; now they are looking for the full package, so the person can hit the ground running.”
Keys said that technology certifications were very useful for candidates at present.
“People are looking for the guy with the qualification,” he said. “They only want to know if he has the Cisco cert, or the Microsoft qualification. Client specifications are higher.”
Having a good CV, which was tailored to the particular vacancy, was a must given the tight market, Keys said.
“The CV has got to be good,” he said.” There are so many CVs being submitted for various roles, that if the first page does not jump out at the client, they tend to move on to the next one. It is important that, in the profile space, you look at the job spec.You might have done a lot of that type of work before, but your CV may not highlight that sufficiently. In your profile you can put down why you are a good fit for that particular role.”
“Do it in bullet points,” said Keys.” What is your role, what were your responsibilities. What have your achievements been in each role you worked in? Have you been promoted within your company?
Make sure you outline any of these. If you are going for a technical role, make sure you highlight your level of expertise in each individual technical area. The more information you can give the better.”
Donnelly said that some IT professionals recently made redundant were finding it difficult to return to the labour market.
“Some of them have worked for the same firm for 15-20 years,” she said. “Systems-wise they know only one infrastructure architecture. That can be limiting.”
Donnery said that there were not huge levels of Irish IT professionals looking abroad for work at the moment.
“We are doing a bit of work placing people abroad, but not a huge amount,” he said.” Things are tight in other countries. Britain is in a similar situation to us, as is most of the world. Probably Australia is somewhere there is plenty of work, but that is a long way to go.”
Keys said that mainland Europe did offer some opportunities.
“There is work in Germany and in Luxembourg,” he said.” We are asking al l candidates whether they are open to going abroad, for a six-month contract or a permanent role.”
There were attractive IT positions in some other EU countries at present, Donnelly said.
“Holland and Belgium are the two more suited to Irish IT contractors,” she said. “There is a history of good performance from Irish IT professionals on projects there over the years and culturally there is a good fit. Language is less of a barrier.”