What is in store for 2017?

What is in store for 2017? Which markets are buoyant? What impact are Brexit and Trump having? Is Singapore still dominating regional growth?

By Heidi Heseltine, Chief Executive Officer, Halcyon Recruitment

I’ve been in shipping for over 25 years now, 15 of which have been working in maritime and energy recruitment. Of all those years, December 2016 was one of the quietest months I have known in recruitment. Was this a blip or the sign of worse to come?

Up until December, the year had seen steady recruitment activity as companies continued to fill chartering, broking, operations, business development, sales and technical positions.

Whilst the news of Brexit and Trump shocked many people, this had little immediate impact on recruitment activity. Shipping tends to live in the here and now when it comes to hiring so we are only likely to feel the force of Brexit and Trump if and when the rest of the world does too. Understandably EU citizens are more concerned now about coming to the UK to work but some also see it as an opportunity to make the move while the doors are still open. The USA has made obtaining working visas extremely difficult for the last few years so there has been very little difference there when it comes to new visas being given as clients are focusing on recruiting individuals with work permits already in place and who are preferably US citizens.

The start of 2017 has been in direct and very welcome contrast to the end of 2016. Our teams in London, Southampton and Singapore have seen a high volume of roles come on. They mirror 2016 in the sense that they are diverse and not for one particular market or job type, although we are seeing more positions for experienced/senior candidates coming through alongside the technical, commercial and operations roles that are a standard part of the work we do. The tanker, chemical and gas sectors all show a consistent level of demand, the dry markets are quieter and the offshore and container markets are extremely quiet with minimal activity expected in the near future. Many renewable energy projects have been reduced as these are now less financially attractive with the status of the oil and gas markets, and clients in this sector anticipate little positive change within the year with some renegotiation of current packages or redundancies.

Geographically, there is no one location more dominant than another across the major shipping hubs. The UK, northern Europe, Singapore, the Middle East and Houston show relatively consistent levels of activity and we expect this to continue throughout the year.

Looking ahead, and having spoken with many leading professionals in the industry, the general consensus for 2017 is that headcount will stay largely the same and that it is going to be a difficult year for most. A large number of newbuildings are being delivered across the maritime markets which is going to place pressure on rates and in turn on a company’s willingness or ability to take on more people. When there are positions, there is a requirement to recruit people who can add clearly identified value and who are able to identify new ways to improve efficiencies and improve on revenue.

Key to any recruitment in 2017 is the ability to promote a positive brand, whether you are the employer or the jobseeker. Halcyon is working exclusively with a number of high profile and forward thinking clients who fully realise the need for a high calibre representation of their organisation from the first moment a position becomes available which is then followed through by providing the best working environment they can and doing their utmost to retain staff and foster a loyal and committed team across each and every location they have.

From a jobseeker’s perspective, it is essential to ensure that you promote yourself in the most professional manner across all of social media, within your CV and at interview. Often the toughest challenge is identifying what your strongest unique selling points are and we understand the importance of our role in helping jobseekers realise this area of their personal branding and how to communicate it to potential employers.

So, in summary, we envisage 2017 being another steady year of recruitment activity globally within the maritime and energy markets and similar in levels to 2016. The US and Europe will remain very difficult to enter if you do not already have the necessary work permits in place and employers are growing increasingly stringent about their requirements in this area. Singapore continues to tighten its regulations as well. Having and promoting a strong brand is essential and being able to differentiate yourself in a positive way from the competition is also critical whether you are an employer or a jobseeker.

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