News : Jobseekers Flood a New Hamilton Call Centre
June 7, 2012 -- Close to 900 people put their names down to fill 21 positions at a new call centre in Hamilton central as unemployment in the region continues to bite.
Last month, the Waikato region recorded a jobless rate of 8.6 per cent, a level not seen since the 1999 economic downturn.
So when AA Insurance advertised for staff for its new call centre – which was officially opened yesterday in the BNZ building in Victoria St – it was inundated with close to 900 potential applicants.
Fiona Maccullum, from recruitment agency Madison, said the figure wasn't surprising given the number of people currently seeking jobs.
"We've gone from a candidate-short situation to a candidate-rich, but it's about finding the right people for the needs of the client.
"It can be like finding a needle in a haystack at times."
Ms Maccullum said the sheer numbers looking for work meant employers would be picky and could raise their standards for employees.
She estimated the average annual income for a call centre worker at $38,000-$40,000.
Employers and Manufacturers Association Waikato chairman Jack Ninnes said he was not surprised to hear of the high number of applicants for the call centre roles. "One of the reasons for that is that call centre work is a really good opportunity for people working flexi-time," he said.
"It opens up a whole range of opportunities for people who would normally not be able to work just the standard eight-hour day."
The high demand was also reflective of the region's "tight" job market which seems to have changed little since more than 1000 hopefuls queued last May for 140 jobs at Countdown's new supermarket in Te Rapa.
Holly Greenfield, 25, is one of the lucky few to get a job at the new call centre.
She holds a diploma in business studies and said she felt fortunate to have made it through the recruitment process, given the strong competition for roles.
"I actually enjoy coming to work, which is a first time for me.
"Everyone is different in age, with different backgrounds and industry experience.
"It makes for a neat workplace dynamic," Ms Greenfield said.
AA Insurance's chief executive, Chris Curtin, said he wasn't surprised by the large number of applicants, given the company's reputation.
"It's a big process – the candidates go through extensive screening to determine whether their values are aligned with those of the company."
He said the company would eventually expand to have 80 roles over the next few years and those who missed out this time would be kept on the record for possible callback then.
Mr Curtin said candidates were not given any education criteria to meet but life experience and values were important.
AA Insurance corporate affairs manager Amelia Macandrew said the new roles were filled mainly by Hamilton people.
Meanwhile, statistics from Trade Me Jobs show the job market is on the rise, according to the April analysis.
These figures showed an 18 per cent increase from last year in the number of advertised vacancies, with more than 39,000 roles on the website.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
Published: Thursday, June 07, 2012