What employers of facilities managers want

by FM Media
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Demand for experienced and qualified facilities managers continues to increase. TIM JAMES, senior regional director of Hays Facilities Management, looks at what employers of facilities managers want when they recruit.

Across Australia, facilities management candidates are in demand in response to a range of expanding facilities management contracts, new mobilisations and new entrants to the facilities management market. It’s an exciting time for the market and, for those who are looking for a new role, the current market presents an excellent opportunity to advance your career.
But, what exactly are employers looking for in a candidate? Depending on the industry, they are now expecting facilities managers to have strong technical knowledge of both hard and soft services, coupled with tertiary or trade qualifications in relevant disciplines.
They are also looking for facilities managers who have softer skills, including the ability to communicate effectively and liaise with different stakeholders across the business, combined with high-level written and verbal skills. Candidates are expected to generate quality reports.
Employers are also seeking candidates with strong environmental knowledge, for example ecologically sustainable development (ESD), climate change and essential services upgrades. NABERS and Green Star legislation is paramount, so a qualification in energy efficiency or a NABERS Assessor qualification is essential. In addition, knowledge in emergency planning and risk management is crucial. Universities have multiple courses on ESD, green buildings, workplace health and safety, and a range of other courses to increase specific knowledge areas.

When it comes to hiring, we have noted some employers are speeding up the recruitment process and undertaking telephone interviews to quicken proceedings. In response to the overall shortage of candidates in the market, some employers have increased base salaries or begun to offer additional financial incentives, such as tax breaks, parking, location or site allowance (in Western Australia) and improved work/life balance. Salaries are expected to increase further over the coming months, although in New South Wales salaries have remained steady due to uncertainty within the State Government over funding cuts and recruitment freezes.
An increased number of employers are also choosing to promote candidates into senior roles early in their career, rather than recruit externally. This strategy has both advantages and disadvantages. It builds good team morale and aids retention, but it places a lot pressure on junior candidates early in their career. Those that can step up to the challenge may find it demanding, but greatly rewarding.
Employers in Western Australia are looking for candidates with strong prior facilities management experience in operational, consulting or contracts management and a mixture of both hard and soft skills. In Sydney, the busier areas include high-end health and hospital related roles in operations and contracts management. Good candidates with this expertise are in short supply. Data centre technicians (electrical) are sought as new data centres are built in response to the demand for mobile internet, increased internet speeds and secure networks, and data centre technicians (air-conditioning) and maintenance carpenters are also needed.
Tighter margins and pressure from employers in Victoria mean that additional works represent an important revenue stream for service providers. As a result, facilities management candidates with strong customer-facing business development skills are needed.

For candidates looking to move into the facilities management industry, particularly recent graduates, we would advise registering with the Facilities Management Association of Australia (FMA). There is a shortage of professionally recognised and registered facilities managers who hold FMA or similar memberships, and this is challenging the industry’s ability to be recognised as a true profession by senior management and human resources.
Using a recruiter will help you to navigate the current facilities management landscape and find a role that matches your longer-term career objectives in an organisation that will allow you to learn and develop your skills.

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