Secs in the City

Demand high for candidates

Competition for secretaries and PAs in London is so fierce that recruitment agencies are having to offer a range of dazzling extras to entice them on board.

The market has turned on its head in the last six months, particularly in banking and finance, with agencies finding themselves with more jobs than candidates.

Liza Brearley, director of Tay Associates, finds that temporary assignments are growing quicker than permanent in the investment banking and finance sectors. “Short-term bookings are back; this was virtually unheard of nine months ago,” she said.

Those most in demand for both temporary and permanent posts are team secretaries and senior team secretaries, according to Claire Ashley, director of Michael Page Secretarial. “Anyone under 25 earning about £25,000 is snapped up within a week to 10 days,” she told Recruiter.

Ashley advises any candidates looking for a permanent job to do their research thoroughly and remain focused so they don’t get “bamboozled by lots of job offers”.

Michael Page Secretarial has recently run a campaign rewarding candidates successfully placed in positions with a House of Fraser makeover and goodie bag, while an iPod is on offer to candidates who refer a friend in financial services.

Tate Office’s candidate services manager Katharine Lovelock reports a 34% increase on the amount of permanent jobs the agency had at this time last year. The company has increased its advertising and job-board presence to attract more candidates, while recommendations remain its highest source of finding candidates.

It also provides newly placed candidates with a massage voucher at the end of their first week of work.

This market is forcing clients to make quicker hiring decisions. “We are educating clients about the need for speed,” said Ashley. “The ones who have headcount approval before they start recruiting are the ones who get the candidates.”