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PROBABLY the question we’re asked most is: “What’s the market like at the moment?”

Of course, there are several answers to this question.  The two answers that can be given across the board are:

First, that in the majority of companies, hiring decisions are being made at more senior levels and they are naturally being much more cautious than they were a year ago to ensure that applicants match their needs before offering – this is also meaning that job descriptions are changing during the process

Secondly, people with jobs are aware that they are the lucky ones, which is producing a ‘loyalty factor’ we haven’t seen for some time’

Technical shipping recruitment is holding firm.  Demand for superintendents remains very high and we are looking for extremely senior shipmanagement professionals for possibly two of the best jobs in shipping at the moment ([email protected]). 

We have a high volume of jobs on the technical section of at the moment in crewing, superintendency, HSE, loss prevention, projects and heavy lift, naval architecture and ports. 

Ironically, the best people can still make a good career move at the moment and the strength of the Euro and Dollar is making this an attractive proposition in some quarters. 

The Commercial market has of course been hit harder by the market downturn.  Most of the major shipbroking firms have now laid off some of the junior staff hired in the last couple of years and our latest piece of annual market research on the chartering market conducted for clients shows that there is downward pressure on salaries.

This is probably no bad thing as the market was getting a little out of hand in the last couple of years with some new entrants to the market achieving up to £35,000 (against a market average of £25-28,000) and an acceleration of salary rises never before seen that meant some young broking and chartering staff were earning £100,000 with bonuses within a few years of entering the market and basic salaries of £100,000 within 5 or 6 years becoming possible. 

Massive bonus payments and sign-on bonuses are all but consigned to history this year.  However, 2009 has become a great opportunity for employers to pick up experienced staff on more realistic packages and some employers whose businesses are not suffering from liquidity problems are taking advantage of this. 

There’s a rich-poor divide therefore and we have a surprisingly healthy book of commercial vacancies in wet and dry chartering, operations, ports and heavy lifts from Syria to Houston and pretty much all stops in between. 

Finally, the market for shipping professionals is a mixed bag.  See our blog on legal and insurance vacancies for some good news.  Banking is as flat as a pancake although there have been a few high profile hires in the last few weeks.  Finance is slower than last year, but demand for accountants in London is ticking over and if you’re a French-speaking Finance Director or similar, with experience of energy or fuel trading, give Nicola Melas a call – she’ll be delighted to hear from you. 

Demand for sales & marketing professionals is up as some employers seem to be positioning themselves to grow market share in this market.  So much so in fact that we have recently welcomed on board Caroline Horsley, a highly experienced recruitment consultant.  Caroline has joined our professional services division to focus on sales & marketing vacancies.  Contact Caroline and Nicola on +44 (0)1702 481650

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