Why now is a good time to apply for a new job, and where to find them

Kiwis are scoping out new jobs but are reluctant to take the plunge, new data shows. 

Job site Seek has released its latest figures showing there are plenty of opportunities out there, particularly in regions that haven't been affected by COVID-19 lockdowns. 

"We've seen at a national level job ad volume up by 1 percent for October versus the prior month, so that's a good result," Rob Clark, Seek country manager NZ, told The AM Show on Wednesday.

"I think more interestingly if we compare to October 2019 - pre-COVID times - job ad volumes on Seek are up 15 percent, and compared to October this time last year, up 37 percent."

But while the site is still getting its usual 5 million visits every month, applications for new jobs are actually down 30 percent on pre-pandemic times. Kiwi job hunters are sniffing, but not biting. 

"It's a very tight labour market," said Clark. "There's a couple of key things - clearly the border closures have shrunk the talent pool; but actually the biggest concern for job seekers is security. They're very risk-averse. They're looking at jobs, but they're not making the move to a new job. That's understandable in the current environment."

The tight labour market and low unemployment has contributed to rising wages, with Statistics NZ reporting 4 percent wage growth in the year to June. Inflation is also rising though, pushing employees to find better-paying work - ideally for them, at a time when employers are struggling to find suitable candidates. 

"As a consequence of that, employers are having to really work harder to attract that talent and really be clear about what their value proposition is to candidates, in a very competitive environment." 

The growth in job opportunities hasn't been uniform across the country however. Auckland, Northland Waikato all saw month-on-month drops in job listings (1, 3 and 4 percent respectively) in the wake of the Delta outbreak. Taranaki and Manawatu also recorded drops of 2 and 3 percent respectively. 

Clark said past experience suggested there would be an "immediate" rebound in openings once the lockdowns were lifted - which at this stage appears likely around the end of November, based on vaccination rates. 

Elsewhere in the North Island and across most of the South, job listings have risen in the past month - especially in Hawke's Bay, Southland and Gisborne (11, 9 and 8 percent). Compared to October 2019, there are 89 percent more jobs being advertised in Gisborne and 74 percent more in Hawke's Bay. 

Some industries are more desperate for workers than others, unsurprisingly since COVID-19 lockdowns have had a much bigger impact on some sectors than others. A 38 percent increase since 2019 in healthcare vacancies has been matched by an identical drop in job offers in hospitality and tourism. There are a lot more jobs in IT, manufacturing/logistics and construction too (25, 29 and 18 percent respectively), but fewer in accounting and admin/office support (down 13 and 1 percent respectively).