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Career progression and work/life balance top jobseeker must-have list

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Job seekers are putting career progression and work/life balance as top priorities when looking for a new role, according to the latest survey commissioned by Lily Shippen Recruitment.

The Salary and Market Insights for 2020 survey, which targeted both employers and employees in various sectors, revealed that salary continues to be important in attracting top talent. However, other benefits, like flexible working options and career development are just as likely to keep staff motivated and engaged.

Managing Director, Lily Shippen, says:

“The survey showed that among professionals, opportunities for training, better work life balance and career progression continue to drive employment choices. It’s vital that employers plug gaps in policy awareness and mitigate skills shortages with proactive processes and training options in order to attract and retain high calibre staff.”

Political uncertainty in 2019 meant that employers were more cautious in their overall hiring plans. However, the picture is already looking brighter with the majority planning to recruit both temporary and permanent staff this year.

A lack of career progression opportunities emerged as a key motivator for employees looking to move roles in 2019 and Lily says this should be a focus area for employers in 2020.

“We also recorded an increase in employers providing employees with a career progression plan from their first day which not only helped with staff retention, but with talent attraction too,” she says.

Almost half (48%) of employers said they find it difficult to attract the best talent, with 29% citing a lack of talent and a quarter attributing the issue to the current skills shortage.

More than a fifth said salary budget is a barrier to bringing top talent on board while others cited office location and long working hours. With the cost of office space in major cities ever increasing more businesses considered outsourcing their business support function. In response to this demand, Lily Shippen has launched the remote assistance arm of the company – LS Virtual.

“Our in-house team of executive assistants will be on hand 24 hours a day, seven days a week to assist clients who require remote support,” she says.

Lily Shippen has offices in London, Manchester and Leeds and the survey concluded that pay has been a dominant theme in London with salaries on the rise and the investment sectors leading the market on competitive rates.

“The outlook is largely positive for end-of-year financial performance with more than three quarters of businesses indicating they will award bonuses in early 2020,” she says.

In particular, growth has been noted in junior and mid-level salaries: most receptionists in the capital now earn over £30,000 annually while team secretaries command at least £35,000 per year. Private equity and venture capital companies pay the most competitive salaries.

In Manchester, the market for secretarial and support staff recruitment continues to grow and salaries rose significantly, most notably for entry-level positions and Executive Assistant roles. In Manchester a receptionist can earn between £19,000 – £24,000 and a legal secretary between £24,000- £27,500. A Private Personal assistant earns £30,000 – £45,000.

In Leeds, Lily Shippen’s newest location, some sectors struggled to fulfil junior positions with the best candidates as a result of restricted salary budgets and a broader job market, while professionals were increasingly prepared to take on contract work and prioritise shorter commutes. Salaries for Executive Assistants in Leeds were competitive with Manchester with £50,00 per annum being the highest pay packet awarded. Companies were willing to pay more than market rate for the best talent and this is likely to continue through 2020.

Key facts from The Salary and Market Insights for 2020:

  • More than a third of professionals would leave their current job for a 5% pay increase
  • A significant number of professionals would not accept a counter offer to stay in a job.
  • More than half (57%) of professionals have received a pay increase in the last 12 months.
  • 81% of professionals would stay longer in their job if they received a discretionary bonus.
  • The average bonus received was 12% of their annual salary and the highest was 30%. A quarter of respondents received no bonus at all.
  • In today’s fast-moving market, candidates expect to hear from a potential employer within two weeks of their first interview. After this time professionals are 76% less likely to accept a job offer.

Lily Shippen is a specialist recruitment agency that focuses on placing the best administrative, secretarial, PA, EA, reception and office support professionals into a range of sectors in Manchester and the UK.