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Despite downturn, opportunities remain for APAC IT candidates

Despite downturn, opportunities remain for APAC IT candidates

One in four companies expect to increase headcount: Randstad

Despite one in five IT organisations predicting job cuts in 2009, recruitment and HR services provider Randstad is urging those affected by redundancy to remember opportunities still exist. Research from the company’s 2009 Employment Trends Report suggests that while 20 percent of employers in the IT sector intend to cut their headcount levels in 2009, more than half (56 percent) also believe a skills shortage remains, with one in four expecting to increase their headcount this year.

Randstad’s IT division chief operating officer Malcolm Dunford says 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 current 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.

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

Dunford adds that contract rates are down as a result of the economic climate, in some cases 10 to 15 percent.

“We’ve certainly noticed the increased demand for contractors on fixed term assignments in Australia. New Zealand on the other hand, still boasts greater business confidence in the longer term need for staff. As such, permanent recruitment of IT professionals is the preferred option for employers over contract.”

Malcolm Dunford of Randstad has 10 pieces of advice for IT professionals to successfully regain employment following retrenchment:

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,” says Dunford.

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. This year’s Randstad Employment Trends 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,” says Dunford.

8. Be realistic with the package you are after. This year’s Randstad Employment Trends Report highlights there is a mis-match between salary expectations and reality with 76 percent of IT professionals expecting a pay rise and 57 percent 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 percent-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. This year’s Randstad report shows a divide opening up over the hiring intentions of permanent and temporary staff. With 35 percent of IT employers expecting to hire permanent workers in 2009 compared to just 10 percent 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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