Is there still room at the top?

  With more senior level expats returning home and fewer Kiwis heading overseas for work, what effect is this having on younger executives wanting to climb the corporate ladder?

Adam Edwards, the regional director in New Zealand of recruitment company Hays, told Management magazine in mid-December that the company is seeing elevated levels of repatriation in the general workforce, noting they have seen an increase in the sheer volume of candidates at the more senior end of the market.
“For example, candidates who have been overseas for eight to 10 plus years are taking the opportunity to return to the relative normality of the New Zealand economy.”

Is this type of offshore experience valued by your clients?
Typically, the experience that a period of overseas employment brings is largely regarded as positive. Depending on the role and industry, potential employers are more likely to favour relevant technical skills for example, IT, finance; or local network and connections for more commercial roles. Both factors can count against Kiwis returning to the New Zealand workplace after an extended period of time.

Are some of the expats overqualified for the type of roles available here?
This is correct. The ‘pyramid’ effect means that there are typically far fewer roles than candidates at the senior end of the market. Events of the past 9-10 months have conspired to accentuate this trend. Whilst there may be a willingness on behalf of returning executives to be flexible in order to rejoin the New Zealand workforce, this isn’t always regarded by employers as a positive as there is a concern that the candidate will move on when a more suitable role materialises.

Do you think this all means it is more difficult for younger executives in New Zealand to start moving up the career ladder?
There is undoubtedly more choice for prospective employers at the exec end of the market so naturally this will widen the field of competition for anyone looking to secure a senior role.
The influx of experience does not explicitly mean that opportunities for less experienced executives have stopped entirely. We have seen an increasing trend toward hiring ‘potential’ rather than the finished article. It’s an encouraging sign for those at the beginning of their executive careers.

So if there are more expats looking for work here and if mid- senior level execs who might once have decided to work offshore are staying put – what does this mean for career progression in the corporate sector?
Choice for employers is high whether this is from returning Kiwis or expats who would ordinarily have returned to their native countries.

What would you
suggest younger executives in NZ do?
The impact of the unprecedented times we have faced in 2020 will be felt for a while in the local and international job markets but it’s a level playing field in that every corner of the world has been affected.
The advice I would give is that promotion and a change in job title are not the only way that you can develop skills and gain valuable experience in this market.
Take accountability for your own growth and ensure that you don’t stand still developmentally. Get involved in projects, make it clear that you are willing to take on more responsibility in order to add to your toolkit even if this doesn’t necessarily come with the financial or titular benefits of a traditional promotion.
Your five or 10 year career plan is still valid and everyone is in the same boat – work out how you can continue to broaden your scope of experience which will put you in pole position when the time comes.   M

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