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Recruiting Staff in Ireland - An Insider's View

14 March 2017 By Ann Donnelly

Recruiting high quality staff is a challenge for all businesses, but foreign businesses have to do much more research before even getting started. A foreign business needs to learn about Irish employment law and practices, the employment market for their industry and regions and how best to recruit in this country.

To get a better insight into recruitment in Ireland, we had a chat with Eileen Moloney, Head of Marketing, Brightwater Recruitment Specialists:

What are the prospects for finding skilled staff in Ireland and what industries would have a better chance of finding good candidates? Are there any industries where it may be a problem?
Ireland is known for its skilled workforce across most disciplines including accountancy, legal, engineering, IT and banking and this is why many multinationals  However the one problem is that with every small nation, there is a limited pool of resources. Also we are still slightly suffering the after effects of the recession where accountancy/legal firms did not take on trainees in volume and now there is a shortage of newly qualified candidates and those at the 2 – 4 years’ PQE. IT is always going to see a shortage of candidates particularly within software development but relaxation of visas for skilled workers will make it easier to take in overseas qualified professionals. At the moment it’s difficult to find risk and compliance professionals as they are all snapped up quickly and fund accountants can be difficult to find – their employers do try their best to retain their staff with generous packages.

How long would you say it would take from advertising a position to finding the right candidate?
This can vary wildly due to (a) the complexity and seniority of vacancy and (b) notice period of the successful candidate. Executive level candidates usually have a 3 – 6 month notice period. The usual notice period is 2 – 4 weeks. However employers in an effort to lock their employees into contracts are now tending to put in at least 2 months notice for valued members of staff. Usually for junior to mid level positions, it can take any time between 2 – 4 weeks for advertising to getting a shortlist of candidates but again it does depend on the role. Finding the right candidate for the role and the right fit for the company is vital for any employer and many are now taking their time  to ensure they get the right person.

How do salaries in Ireland compare to those in the UK, the EU and the rest of the world?
Salaries compare very well. London obviously has a premium on salaries so there would be a slight drop in salary now – however with the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, there is a rise in enquiries about jobs from London based professionals. Re comparing salaries to the EU, that would be a little different as most are in € but Ireland does come out relatively well.  Taxes are higher with USC but Ireland also apply our highest tax rate at a lower income band than other EU countries thereby penalising executive level professionals.

Would the terms of hiring be very different to other countries - annual leave, maternity/paternity leave, notice period?  Is there anything required of employers in Ireland that may be out of the ordinary in other countries?
Annual leave compares very well to the likes of US. Ireland has 21 days standard but most firms put in additional days for every year worked up to a maximum of 30 days. Maternity leave is again better than in US as we also offer unpaid leave up to an additional 6 months but we don’t compare well to the Scandinavian countries where maternity leave, childcare facilities etc are much better. We’re standard compared to most of EU apart from Germany. Notice period depends very much on the company and not on the country although there is a minimum notice period of 1 week for up to 6 months worked and 2 weeks’ notice. 

How are the prospects for finding good candidates in Cork compared to Dublin? and compared to other areas of Ireland?Excellent candidates can be found in both cities, there is a larger pool available in Dublin however due to its size but Cork is still attractive to professionals as a location. There are so many multinationals in the region and the SMEs are also recruiting in volume again.  Rental accommodation (both availability and cost) however is a problem in both cities which may inhibit bringing new candidates into the region.  Limerick and Galway are not far behind in getting great candidates but other regions are limited in their pool of candidates.

Do you have any advice for attracting the best candidates? and then keeping them as long term employees?
In terms of attracting the best candidates, our consultants are advising our clients to make the interview process as warm as possible. Many candidates now are experiencing multiple offers now so the onus is on the potential employer to position themselves as employer of choice. Find out the motivating factors for the employee (not just the salary) and focus on those. In terms of retaining staff, employers have to be mindful of challenges such as career development opportunities, the chance to upskill, study support, work life balance and possible flexi time or remote working if at all possible. This means that they can keep the wealth of knowledge that long term employees have rather than investing time, money and effort in having to source and train new staff.

Is there any other information or advice that would be helpful to foreign companies setting up in Ireland and hiring staff here?
We have annual salary surveys available on our website and our 2017 survey is due in 2 weeks’ time. We have recently carried out a “counter-offer” survey as well which I have also attached.

It's important to note the fact that many candidates are being courted by a number of potential employers, but it makes it a little easier to know that hiring practices in Ireland aren't all that different to other countries -- and there are experts out there like Brightwater, that can assist with finding good candidates and also provide useful information on salaries and other hiring practices.

Tagged With: Frequently Asked Questions, Advice, Setting Up a Business in Ireland