The FM job market

Following on from our interview with some of the industry’s top recruiters last year, I caught up with Nikki Dallas from Talent FM, Ashleigh Brown from Dovetail FM Recruitment, and Simon Aspinall from Catch 22 to discuss how the market is changing and what job seekers need to know to put their best foot forward.

Our panel







We last caught up with you in January 2011 to hear your views on the FM job market. Since then, what do you feel has changed? Is the market better or worse than last year, and if so, in what way?

Nikki Dallas – “It has been an interesting year. The market is definitely much better than a year ago. We have seen a 34 percent increase in new clients and a higher volume of vacancies being registered from existing clients.

“A key talking point of the year has been the salaries being offered. In the vast majority of cases they are significantly less than pre-recession rates offered for the same job, in the same company and same geographical area. There are some enlightened clients who understand that if they offer competitive salaries now then their talent is likely to be better motivated and less likely to look to move on as soon as the salaries bounce back. However, everybody is still very ‘value conscious’ and commercially aware.”

Simon Aspinall – “The first nine months of 2011 saw very little change and a pretty flat market. For the latter part of the year and into 2012 conditions felt more buoyant; certainly the flow of vacancies has improved since late 2011 and it seems that candidates are gradually becoming more confident in seeking new roles.

“On the temp/contract side, it is worth noting that the introduction of the Agency Workers’ Regulations in October 2011 has not had the negative impact some had predicted. In many cases, we have witnessed the benefit of greater dialogue with the client to ensure effective implementation of the regulations to retain access to a flexible workforce.”

Ashleigh Brown – “The market has notably improved over the past 12 months as companies seek to minimise spending in non-core business areas. This has resulted in an increase in demand for outsourcing services such as integrated FM. As the challenging economic conditions persist, this trend is likely to continue. We are, therefore, finding a continuing demand for experienced FM professionals with experience on the service provider side. Additionally, this leads to requirements client side for individuals who understand the differing pressures between client and supplier side FM roles who can successfully manage the FM contracts.

“Furthermore, over the past 12 months, we have found a considerable increase in recruitment outside of the UK with strong growth in the emerging economies of the Far East as well as continuing expansion in Australia and an upturn in the Middle Eastern markets.

“As a company, Dovetail FM Recruitment has actually grown in the last 12 months to enable us to cope with the amount of work that has been coming through from the FM sector. From my perspective, the initial shock felt across the industry by going into a recession, the resulting increase in redundancies, and cost-cutting measures has now calmed. Many companies have used that time to take stock of their long term strategies and corporate direction. In some cases, we have seen massive growth in some of the smaller FM service delivery companies at the expense of some of the larger companies who have been unable to react or change quickly enough to meet new challenges. This does not mean that the larger companies are doing badly but rather that they are not necessarily showing the same degree of growth. The FM industry has come through a tough spell, but in reality no matter what goes on in the world, as long as there are occupied buildings (and even some unoccupied!), those buildings and property portfolios need managing so there is always a demand for great people. My experience is that the market is definitely in a better place than a year ago and we are definitely seeing companies tightening up their processes and thus being able to go to the market for quality people who can help them move in their chosen direction.”

What sort of roles are you mostly recruiting for?

Ashleigh Brown – “Interestingly, we are seeing a lot of work within the bid departments of large companies. This can only mean one thing – there is more work out there, or on the horizon, and companies want quality people in place to help them win that work. Once new contracts have been won, there is usually another wave of recruitment to get them mobilised, although at the moment there does seem to be a considerable delay before companies make a decision on contract awards. Health & safety and environmental roles seem to be quite popular at the moment as well – we have seen a run of these from various companies in the last couple of months.

“Senior level candidates may still be struggling to find the perfect role with a salary to match their pre-recession earnings but my advice is to be flexible with your salary requests and be patient when you have been put forward as many recruiters are at the mercy of HR departments for feedback who are in turn, at the mercy of the hiring managers to get feedback. Keeping an eye on growing companies is also a good idea for those of you with more strategic FM experience as these companies are looking for people to take them to the next level in terms of business growth and leadership.”

Simon Aspinall – “There has been a huge variety in the levels and scope of roles taken over the last year or so, with an increased demand for candidates with specialist skills, knowledge and experience – both technical and non technical. However, the majority of vacancies we are recruiting for at the moment remain facilities manager roles (senior, mid and assistant) with a 50:50 split between in-house and service provider.”

Nikki Dallas – “As always, we are recruiting a wide variety of roles but we have definitely seen an increase in three main areas: senior management roles, international roles, and more client side corporate vacancies than at the same time last year.”

What skills are most sought after, and are there any training courses that you feel FMs should be undertaking?

Simon Aspinall – “The most sought after skills at the moment are sector and industry specific plus in contract management, finance and innovation. A NEBOSH certificate is essential in many cases and as employers become much more qualification-savvy they are specifying to a higher level because they are aware that the quality of candidate in the market is improving. There is a debate happening, certainly on LinkedIn groups, about the apparent bias towards qualified candidates rather than those with extensive experience and few if any qualifications.”

Nikki Dallas – “With the clarification of the BIFM levels of professional development more companies are now insisting that they only wish to see people with BIFM qualifications.

“Of course NEBOSH and IOSH are always desirable, as are the hard FM qualifications where there is always a shortage. Many clients seem less willing to just accept experience and are more insistent on qualifications and vocational training in addition to the experience.”

Ashleigh Brown – “With the FM job industry becoming more competitive, the spec’s are becoming more prescriptive in terms of training and professional body memberships. Many companies are asking for IOSH/NEBOSH qualifications at an operational level and the majority are also expecting people to now have membership to a professional organisation such as BIFM, RICS, CIOB, etc.”

What are the common mistakes that job hunters make?

Nikki Dallas – “The common mistakes we see that have the biggest impact on candidate success is people not taking the time to produce the very best CV possible. A common misconception is that they will get the chance to tell people at interview about all the great achievements in their career but of course they won’t get to interview stage if the CV doesn’t impress against all the other applications they receive.

“We see CVs riddled with mistakes, dates of employment not adding up, spelling and grammatical errors – and the same candidates write that they have great attention to detail! There really is no excuse for producing a shoddy below par document if you are serious about your career.”

Ashleigh Brown – “One of the most common mistakes that job seekers appear to make is to not actually read or fully understand the role for which they are applying, so they send a standard CV for any job and cross their fingers in the hope of a call. This leaves recruiters feeling frustrated and having to respond to people with lengthy explanations about why they are not being shortlisted for a role which, based upon their CV, they appear not to be qualified for.

“Before applying, read or ask for the spec for the role and then study your CV and ask yourself: “If I was hiring for this role, would I shortlist my CV based on the spec I have just read and the content of my document?” If the answer is ‘no’ then you should go back to the spec and your CV and fill in any gaps where you know you have the experience, but it has not been accurately reflected in your document. A great way to do this is to go through your CV with a highlighter and look at the spec and then highlight areas on your CV that show the experience required. The percentage of your CV highlighted at the end may give you a good indication of whether or not you will get that positive call back!”

Simon Aspinall – “Poorly prepared CVs and the assumption that a single version of their CV will suffice for every job they apply for. Tailoring is essential. Don’t ignore social media, even if you are not as IT fluent as you’d like to be – take advice. At the opposite end, don’t rely totally on your LinkedIn profile to get you noticed; it is difficult to underline your USPs for a specific role on what is a fairly generic medium.”

What do you wish candidates would do to make themselves more marketable?

Ashleigh Brown – “Something I have come across a lot lately is clients wanting to do an initial telephone interview with candidates to save time and to then only go through one or two formal final interviews. One of the best pieces of advice I can give you is to record yourself talking into your phone and listen to how you come across. Some people are great in person but sound very monotonous and lifeless on the phone so if you are being asked to do a telephone interview, be aware of how you may be perceived.

“Another tip when writing a CV is to ensure that you have your experience bullet pointed instead of writing lengthy paragraphs in third person story format. Most people reviewing CVs every day tend to have real problems plowing through reams and reams of writing. Sharp, concise and to the point is always best! If you are not sure and would like some professional advice, please feel free to get in touch directly and we would be more than happy to give you some guidance.”

Simon Aspinall – “Get involved and be able to demonstrate that involvement. Employers want to see a level of commitment to a career path that demonstrates personal thought about a candidate’s future. They are impressed by candidates who take every opportunity to realise their potential and extend their professional knowledge and standing. Network at every chance you get.

“Oh, and don’t forget to get someone to check your CV for spelling/grammatical errors – otherwise it’s first stop, the bin!

Nikki Dallas – “I would like candidates to be more selective and realistic about the roles that they apply for – rather than applying for 50 where they meet just a percentage of the criteria. Apply for five where you meet the majority of the criteria and make sure that you effectively communicate why you are the best person for this job in your application. Tailor your CV to applications and you can’t properly do that if you applying for everything with facilities in the title. Look at the sector and industry that the role is in, as well as the standard skills and experience. Everybody has a unique job history and unique offering to market and people should do more to identify their talents and make sure that they communicate that message.”

My eBook: The Hunt is On, available to buy for just £5.99, will help you work out what is the ideal career for you, find your ideal employer, plan the job hunting process, explain how to get the most out of networking, show you how you can develop your own personal brand through social media, how to write a great CV, tell you everything you need to get through the interview process, and give you some top tips on how to make a great start in that new role, once you land it. Just click here to get it now.

Contact details for our expert panel:

Simon Aspinall
Catch 22
Tel: 0113 242 8077 / Mobile: 07976 156351

Ashleigh Brown
Dovetail FM Recruitment
Tel: 01635 43100

Nikki Dallas
Talent FM
Tel: 0844 880 2426

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