Covid-19 brought about a lot of uncertainty, especially in the job market, how did this play out for your areas of expertise?

Most of our clients had a solid workflow but were very concerned about what the procurement of new projects would look like beyond their existing workload. As a result, clients were initially very tentative to hire immediately following lockdown, but as new projects came in and confidence grew, hiring intentions also did. The August lockdown seemed to be a real turning point at which point clients gained a lot of confidence that their workloads were resilient enough to survive that and it was safe to hire.

We had a lot of discussions with our clients over this time, we actually became closer to them in the face of uncertainty, we made ourselves available to provide advice and support where needed. It’s not that we hadn’t done this before, we just really saw the increased need for it and adapted accordingly. It’s changed us too, for the better.

Has there been a greater shift towards contract and temporary hiring, and what are the benefits and shortfalls for employers hiring on a contract or temporary basis?

While some of the industries that we focus on, namely Construction, don’t have the ability to offer the flexibility of other sectors, in the traditionally conservative markets of Engineering and Architecture we saw a dramatic shift in attitudes towards flexible and remote working. As time has gone on, we have seen a shift backwards in attitudes towards flexibility from some clients, while others have adopted the new mindset. Undoubtedly, those who have implemented and maintained flexible working policies most effectively, are retaining their current workforce more effectively, as well as attracting new talent.

In project-based roles, the biggest pitfall for remote and flexible working is communication. Some clients believe this is insurmountable, however with the technology available (as evidenced by the numerous lockdowns), any loss in productivity is far outstripped by employee engagement.

There has been an increase in Kiwis moving home, which can be seen as a positive for the recruitment market – what skills are you seeing returning home to New Zealand? And what are the employment options for those returning?

We have seen a lot of candidates returning home, and the skills learned offshore are highly valuable back in the New Zealand market. There is a wide range of roles available to them and clients love the diversity, maturity and big thinking that off-shore experience can bring. Conversely, we have seen some of the returnees going back to the perceived safety of the company they left when they went overseas.

There is more demand for recruitment than ever before, for those that haven’t worked with a recruitment agency pre-Covid why should they now?

The shortage of talent due to the closed borders is the biggest challenge, and this is really where a good agency is really crucial right now. At Grada we have a wealth of experience and expertise, we have created really strong associations over the years which enables us to be the very best at sourcing tough to find candidates. Agencies who rely on advertising and LinkedIn will really struggle.

And what’s the best way to go about choosing an agency?

We have heaps of advice but will try to keep it brief!! The best approach is to choose one or two to partner with rather than going to multiple. Pick a specialist who knows your market inside out, someone you relate to and someone who is genuinely interested in your business and its success. To get the best results you need to trust them, so that you can give them as much information about the role and company as possible, which in turn allows the agency to find the best suited candidates. It really is a partnership, so the human side is hugely important and is what sets an agency apart. Like Grada!

There is a lot of talk around skill shortages and companies going above and beyond to hold onto their talent. How is this affecting the recruitment process, and how can Grada advise in these circumstances?

It is a huge issue and something where an expert is invaluable. You wouldn’t get a Doctor to build your house, and nor should you rely solely on an Engineer who has progressed into a Management role advising on how to retain staff. You should utilise a Recruitment Professional. Here at Grada we are more than happy to sit down with our clients to advise on strategies to retain their talent – and that is a whole other blog – watch this space!!

What change would you like to see within the recruitment market now?

We’re really excited about collaboration between agencies and we think more people should do it! Here at Grada, we work closely with a number of recruitment agencies where we utilise each other’s expertise in order to get the best results for candidates and clients. This is very uncommon within the industry and something we’d like to see a lot more of, as ultimately providing the best outcomes for our clients and candidates is what it is all about.