hiring trends in office and administration.

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Digital disruption has changed the face of office and administrative work, but not only in the ways we expected. New job opportunities have been created for those with knowledge of the latest workplace tech. Unfortunately, the talent shortage remains a threat, and employers are struggling to find candidates with the new skill sets they need to get the job done.  

Here, we’ve analyzed the latest hiring trends for office and administration, outlined the challenges they pose to you and offered solutions about what you can do to address each one.

hiring outlook in numbers

While new workplace technologies may have reduced the need for office support personnel in certain areas, new data obtained from Burning Glass shows that there still is some demand. In just the past year alone there were:

  • customer service representatives: 711,940 postings

  • administrative assistants:587,068 postings

  • receptionists: 133,557 postings

  • executive assistants:76,285 postings

Unfortunately, it appears as though these positions are proving hard to fill. 

45 percent pie chart45% of employers said that recruiting and retaining talent was the biggest challenge facing their organizations.*

Indeed, the role of office workers is changing. New technologies are being implemented into the daily workflow faster than ever, and it's becoming more difficult for existing employees to keep up with training. As a result, the skills gap is growing. 

37% of employers said that the growing talent shortage and skills gap would be the primary external challenge facing their organizations.*

what this means for employers

If you're looking to hire office and administrative personnel, expect to encounter challenges. The shortage of talent in the space is significant. In fact, it's one of the most severe across all careers, coming in third behind only healthcare and business and finance.

To find the talent you need in this climate, you'll need to rethink your approach. Here's how we recommend you adjust your hiring strategy based on the latest trends.

areas with the greatest talent shortages: 

  1. healthcare: 1,153,617 openings

  2. business and financial operations: 985,214 openings

  3. office and administrative support: 461,263 openings

trends arrow yellow illustrationtrend:
a growing skills gap for office and administration roles

how this affects you:
holds your business back from growing

reevaluate skills

be realistic about job requirements
Bachelor's degrees are becoming required for an increasingly higher number of positions. And while college-educated employees can certainly be valuable assets on your team, requiring a diploma for jobs where it previously wasn't warranted could be hurting rather than helping.

Let's look at bookkeepers, for example. According to Burning Glass, 37 percent of job postings for bookkeepers asked for a bachelor's degree — yet only 19 percent of bookkeepers actually have one. 

It seems the perceived skills gap so often bemoaned by today's hiring leaders, could actually be, in part, a product of their own doing. While a bachelor's may be viewed as the new high school for some, applying that requirement to every role will only increase hiring headaches for your organization. So think carefully about each position you're looking to fill, and make a decision on whether or not a college degree is really necessary to get the job done. 

37% of job postings for bookkeepers asked for a bachelor's degree— yet only 19% of employed bookkeepers actually have them.

upskill away
With fewer skilled job seekers on the market, making external hires to address your staffing needs may not be in the cards. But that doesn't mean you have to put your business on hold until candidates come calling. 

Upskilling your existing workers is an easy way to get around the skills gap, and it can even improve your employee engagement and retention levels, too. 

here's what to do:

  • Look at all the new hires you were planning to make to identify the skill sets that made them attractive candidates.

  • Conduct an analysis of your current team's strengths to identify gaps that need to be addressed through training.

  • Work one-on-one with your employees to learn which directions they'd like to take their careers, and put them in upskilling programs that align with those goals.

trends arrow turquoise illustrationtrend:
hiring cycles are too long

how this affects you:
reduces your ability to attract top talent

speed up your hiring process

With the talent market as tight as it is today, timing is everything. Top talent is on the market for as little as 10 days, so you need to act fast when hiring needs arise. 

Unfortunately, 53 percent of the employers we surveyed who've worked with us to find office and administration talent said it typically takes them two to three months to fill a direct-hire position on their own.*

If you're part of that 53 percent, you'll want to drastically reduce your hiring timeline in order to stay competitive for the best candidates.

here's what to do:

  • Forecast future talent needs: Learn about your company's upcoming plans so you can anticipate headcount and start cultivating a talent pipeline. 

  • Look in the right places: To use your candidate-search time most efficiently, target channels frequented by your ideal candidates. Think social media for millennials or job fairs for Gen Z. 

  • Partner with a staffing agency: Staffing agencies have access to established networks of pre-vetted talent so you can find qualified candidates faster. 

trends arrow red illustrationtrend:
more employers competing for the same pool of talent

how this affects you:
makes it harder to find skilled candidates

be different about how you differentiate 

Differentiating yourself from the competition is important, and our polling of office and administration employers showed that a majority of them agree and are making concerted efforts to stand out. Unfortunately, a majority of them are choosing the same method of differentiation, which may end up defeating the purpose: 

55 percent pie chart 55% percent of respondents told us that their workplace culture and brand reputation are what sets them apart.*

Building a great employer brand is an important talent-attraction tool to have in your arsenal, and if you haven't already, it's well worth the investment. But if you're looking for an edge, you need to go where your competitors aren't. Our survey findings uncovered other "paths less travelled" that you can take to help your business stand out. 

  • Compensation and benefits: Only eight percent of employers said this was a differentiator for them. Use an online salary calculator to see what the going rate is for salaries in your area, and listen to what today's talent has to say about the kinds of benefits they want

  • Growth opportunities: Only six percent of employers said this helps set them apart. If you're already upskilling, you'll be on the right track. But beyond just skills, employees also want to work for organizations that can communicate clear pathways to advancement. 

  • Flexibility and work-life balance: Only 7 percent of employers are prioritizing this in their differentiation strategies. Offering flexible scheduling, along with remote work options and unlimited vacation time, is an attractive incentive for
    many of today's job seekers. 

key takeaways 

The increased adoption of workplace technologies has created a serious skills gap in office and administration, and the talent shortage that's ensued has ballooned to be one of the biggest out of all occupational segments. To stay competitive for office and administration talent in this climate, remember to: 

  1. Reevaluate skills: Align job requirements with the realities of the role and upskill your existing team members to compensate for talent not available on the job market. 

  2. Accelerate your hiring cycles: Forecast your talent needs in advance, source for candidate on the right channels or partner with a staffing agency to find great talent, fast.

  3. Stand out to talent: Differentiate yourself from competing employers by improving compensation and benefits, providing growth opportunities and offering flexible, work-life-friendly scheduling. 

Addressing these hiring trends will make you more competitive for talent, but if competition seems to be especially pronounced in your local market, then targeting your approach even further could give you the extra edge you need. 

Tailoring your hiring strategy to align with the unique characteristics of each position you're looking to fill can help your hire more effectively. Visit our How to Hire page below to get tailored hiring advice for some of today's most in-demand office and administration positions. 

get your guide button 

* Randstad US, "randstad office and administration: client survey executive summary." 2019

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