Revealed: 2018 Recruitment Predictions

Eoin Pollard 07.03.2018

We asked our recruitment teams for 2018 hiring predictions across audit, engineering, financial services, HR, IT, legal, science, supply chain and tax.

Jump to: Audit | Engineering | Financial Services | HR | IT | Legal | Science | Supply Chain | Tax

Accountancy & Finance Recruitment

Once again the Big Four firms (PwC, KPMG, Deloitte and EY) are the dominant players in terms of accountancy firms in Ireland for those driven candidates with two to three years post-qualification experience. Perhaps more than in any other industry, professional designations are critical in accounting and finance. What has been extremely prevalent is payroll, FP&A and commercial experience with strong Excel and financial modelling experience.

In comparison to recent years, supply and demand is driving salaries up, employers are willing to pay up to circa €5,000 more for talent on the newly-qualified side. It is key to note, if you’re really serious about your job search, be prepared for how quickly the process could move, meet several companies and keep an open mind.

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Audit Recruitment

Demand is high across all areas of audit and there is an openness from employers in Ireland to recruit candidates from overseas that have strong audit, English language and IFRS knowledge. As the economy continues to improve, professional services firms are losing qualified staff to industry.

There are excellent roles available at senior manager and director level in audit at the moment for people with a commercial outlook and strong people management experience. Job seekers will be delighted to hear that salaries are up 5% on 2017 in audit. Our top tip for audit is to choose a firm that presents an opportunity for you to progress in your career.

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Engineering Recruitment

The top recruiting trends in engineering is the significant increase on counter offers, sign on and retention bonuses for candidates. Roles that will continue to be demanding are design engineers, quality specialists for medical devices and pharma, automation and process engineers.

Why do we highlight these particular sectors? This is due to the demand for Level 8 degree-qualified candidates for multinational corporations, R&D, innovation, general expansion and global product demand. The core skills and attributes desirable in engineering at the moment are extensive programming skills, lean, Six Sigma experience and increasingly employers are looking for successful candidates to have a Masters or PHD.

In terms of current engineering salaries, brands are seeing steady increases with the gap closing between the major cities, take for example Cork versus Dublin. Our key takeaway from the engineering sector is that you shouldn't be swayed by salary alone, know the career prospects and progression opportunities.

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Financial Services Recruitment

Demand remains high in financial services, a sector expected to grow by 30% in Ireland by 2020. This momentum was already building before Brexit-related decisions started to take shape. Undoubtedly, new trends are shaping demand for talent; new central bank regulations are driving demand for professionals with relevant reporting experience.

In recent times qualified accountants across treasury and funds are being sought after too, with particular demand for those with specialist skills in private equity and hedge funds.

Graduates with up to ten years' relevant experience are expected to be in demand in the coming years. One of the main trends we can foresee for financial services in 2018 will be GDPR-lead compliance and risk roles, fund accountants particularly private equity and also compliance at all levels across every industries.

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HR Recruitment

Job seekers continue to drive the employment market. A lot of movement and growth is appearing on the senior end with HRBP and HR manager roles becoming popular in Dublin. Recruiters are in high demand, ideally with in-house experience for both permanent and fixed term contracts. Fixed term contracts continue to be a demand from employers as they manage headcount and maternity leave. Outside of Dublin, moving regionally across Ireland we expect to see continued demand for HR generalists and business for fixed term contracts in particular. 

There’s particular demand for candidates at the €40k - €45k level - recruiters with strong end-to-end recruitment experience and in particular those who have recruited within finance, IT and pharma or science. Salaries regionally haven’t changed that much, we believe that it very much depends on a candidate’s level of experience, having said that recruiters who are immediately available tend to drive salaries up in this area given they are in high demand across a multiple sectors. 

We recommend focusing on your strengths and how you can transfer your skills and experience into a new role or industry. On average, it’s taking candidates three months to find a new role. You should take note that the HR job market does not tend to move at the same pace that a candidate may want it to! This is why it is important to have patience and resilience when undergoing your job search in this space. 

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IT Recruitment

IT is still an extremely busy sector and there has been a huge increase in new entrants. A strong candidate flow continues from Mainland Europe and there has been a noticeable increase in professionals relocating to Ireland from the UK due to uncertainty of Brexit and the economic outlook in Ireland.

The core development languages such as Java, .Net, Python and Web (Javascript) remain very busy and cover all company sizes. Contract employment has been significantly busier due to a skills shortage and pressure to deliver on projects. GDPR has seen an uplift in demand for project managers and business analysts as people continue to review the implications of GDPR on their business.

Data and security continue to be the fastest-growing areas and as these areas mature and candidates become more skilled, we are seeing a greater demand for contractors in this sector.  Machine learning and deep learning roles will also be in huge demand this year.

Overall, our research shows that you can expect to see a salary increase of 3-4% in most areas. Our key recommendation would be to get experience first and worry about the salary after. Shadowing someone who is highly skilled is more valuable in the long term than a slightly higher salary in the short term. Building your CV to cover different company sizes and industry is also beneficial as you can be pigeon-holed very quickly in IT.

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Legal Recruitment

Data protection and more generalist roles in-house will be in demand roles across the legal sector. Data protection and privacy roles due to the implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation in May 2018. There is also some demand for a niche area of product counselling (regulatory issues that come up in product development).

Commercial and transactional experience will always be in demand but we are seeing an increase of demand for more generalist knowledge for in-house roles in areas like employment, competition, managing litigation, and of course data protection (particularly in GDPR). There is a slight increase from previous years and a big inflation for roles in data protection. Up skill in data protection and try not to limit your experience to commercial contracts as much as possible.

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Science Recruitment


Ireland has now established itself as a real centre of excellence in Science. There is a huge volume of roles on the market across Quality Control, Microbiology, Regulatory, Clinical Trials & Medical Information, Analytical Chemistry and Technical Transfer. The demand is a direct reflection of the growth and expansion of corporations in Ireland. Candidates with a higher level education of Master’s or PHD level,  combined with two to three years experience are highly sought after in the current market. This is particularly evident across specialised functions within the Technical Services space in pharmaceuticals and in the MSAT space in Biologics including Cell Culture and Purification. 

In 2018, salaries are expected to remain in line with the average market increase of 3-4%. Within the Technical Services and MSAT space, skilled professionals are in short supply so significant increases of 10-12% can be expected for professionals with strong experience willing to change employment. There are a lot of opportunities out there so don’t be afraid of change. The market is very contract driven which can be off-putting for some candidates but contracts are a great opportunity to break into company and get experience with them. Remember more often than not, contracts get converted into permanent opportunities. 

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Supply Chain Recruitment

The main trend for supply chain and procurement is the increase in up-skilling from an education standpoint, for too long there were little to no options to up-skill in this market which is now beginning to change. There are now multiple organisations offering further education in supply chain such as the IIPMM & CIPs in the purchasing space and CILT in the logistics space, there are also multiple colleges offering post grad and masters course in supply chain such as UCC, UCD Smurfit and DIT. With this change and vacuum now being addressed this increases the skill set and selling point of Ireland as a base for company’s global supply chain and procurement functions and will encourage further growth in the area.

There is still a strong demand for candidates with particular category specific procurement skill set mainly from in the highly-regulated space, also certain language requirements are desirable for more junior roles. 

We would advise candidates to up-skill as much as possible, whether that be a supply chain post grad course, a lean or Six Sigma qualification or an institutional cert (IIPMM), up-skilling will be essential as educational options become more plentiful there soon won’t be any excuse not to up-skill, this will end up separating candidates when push comes to shove.

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Tax Recruitment

As Benjamin Franklin once said there were only two things certain in life: death and taxes. And one thing you can be sure about is that the tax sector in 2018 will offer more positions as pressures on tax teams increase due to the growing complexity of global tax.

There is high demand for corporation tax professionals in the Big Four as their industry clients are increasingly looking to them for advisory and technical support. There is a growing niche market for indirect tax specialists. We saw an uplift of between 5% to 10% in some cases and we also saw a number of professional job seekers effectively being given external promotions, which is something that had been rarely seen in the past. 

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How can we help? 

At Morgan McKinley we always strive to be the best and to create an original solution for every recruitment mandate, regardless of level, length of contract or salary. We will take the time to understand our clients’ needs and our candidates’ career ambitions to produce the ideal result for both parties.

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Eoin Pollard's picture
Marketing Content & Campaigns Executive
epollard@premiergp.com