Recruiter flags IT opportunities amid downturn

Stay positive and use personal and social networks

New research by recruitment firm Randstad indicates that while the economy is in a downturn more than half of employers believe there remains a skills shortage that will lead to job opportunities.

According to Randstad’s 2009 Employment Trends Report, some 20 per cent of employers in the IT sector intend to cut their headcount levels in 2009, but 56 per cent also believe a skills shortage remains, and 25 per cent expecting to increase their headcount this year.

Randstad is urging those unfortunate enough to be made redundant to remember that opportunities will remain in the IT sector.

Chief operating officer of Randstad’s IT division, Malcolm Dunford, said despite the focus on those shedding workers across the Asia Pacific region, good people will always be in demand and the IT sector is no exception.

“The economic downturn has meant a number of large IT companies have made staff redundant, but opportunities remain for those retrenched to quickly re-enter the workforce,” Dunford said.

“Roles across most areas in IT are available, however those individuals with specific skills in business analysis, data warehousing, ERP (Oracle and SAP), Web development and infrastructure architecture are of particular interest.”

Dunford said salaries are more difficult to determine given the greater pool of candidates available in the market, with salaries for business analysts ranging from $65,000 to $90,000, developers from $60,000 to $85,000 and ERP is more than $100,000.

However, contract rates are down as result of the economic climate, in some cases by 10 to 15 per cent.

“We’ve certainly noticed the increased demand for contractors on fixed term assignments,” Dunford said.

“To succeed in this challenging market, IT professionals need to be prepared so that if they believe they are going to be made redundant, then they are ready to hit the job market at full-speed.”

Dunford has listed ten things people need to be aware of if they are faced with being laid off:

1. Prepare if possible. If retrenchment is a real concern, prepare for the news and your future. “Updating your resume, keeping an eye on the current job market and discussing opportunities with contacts in the industry can put you one step ahead of the news,” Dunford said.

2. Understand the redundancy. In the meeting, it’s important to understand the rights you have under the contract, the redundancy package you’re entitled to and what services are on offer to help you get back on your feet.

3. Accept support. While you may feel anger, betrayal and resentment, you should grasp offers of advice given to you. “If an outplacement service is being offered, access this service and the tools available. Drawing on expert advice and accessing career advice available can quickly place yourself in a positive position to go out and secure your next job.”

4. Stay positive. It may seem an impossible task at the time, but when leaving the meeting the key is to stay motivated, maintain an open mind and take positive steps to get back onto the path of employment.

5. Use your personal network. The report highlights employee referral programmes as the second most popular way for IT organisations to recruit staff after online job board ads. “It is important to be well respected by your peers if you want to maximise your chances of being referred for a new role.”

6. Use social networking. It comes as no surprise the use of social networking tools such as Facebook are more popular among IT professionals. By ensuring you are using as many tools at your disposal, you can communicate with as many potential employers, referrers or recruiters as possible.

7. Be honest in job interviews. Understand that retrenchment is no reflection on performance, but rather an economic reality right now. There’s no stigma attached to being retrenched, as most employers are aware of the current economic situation. In fact, the economy could prove beneficial. “Some proactive employers view the current environment as an opportunity to hire strong candidates who may not otherwise be available,” Dunford said.

8. Be realistic with the package you are after. Th report highlights there is a mis-match between salary expectations and reality with 76 per cent of IT professionals expecting a pay rise and 57 per cent expecting a bonus this year. “People need to understand, however, that it doesn’t make sense to demand significant packages when a potential employer is under obvious pressure to reduce costs. If IT professionals have a more realistic package expectation, they will become more attractive to potential employers and be in a good position for a rise when business improves.”

9. Demonstrate your value. Right now, employers are only looking for professionals who are close to a 100 per cent match to the vacancy. “You need to be very clear on what you bring to the table, and maximize your opportunity by targeting organisations that can utilise your skills and experience."

10. Be prepared to be permanent. The report shows a divide opening up over the hiring intentions of permanent and temporary staff. With 35 per cent of IT employers expecting to hire permanent workers in 2009 compared to just 10 per cent of temporary staff it could be a good time to seek permanent roles while you wait for the demand for more flexible opportunities to pick up.

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Tags careersjobsResumerecruitingeconomic downturnIT jobsRandstad

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