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Salaries down by up to 30 per cent in all sectors in 2009

Salaries for new positions across seven major sectors in the economy have seen massive decreases in 2009, according to a new salary guide by the leading recruiting expert, Hays.

Hays has published its annual salary guide for Ireland which shows that sectors like construction have seen salary drops of up to 30 per cent, while accountancy has taken the second biggest hit, with reductions this year ranging from 10-20 per cent.

The consultancy examined the salaries and terms and conditions of all its recruitment assignments in Construction & Property, Accounting & Finance, Office Support, Financial Services, Human Resources, Insurance and IT throughout 2009. All sectors have seen major decreases in the salaries being offered for new positions, although some niche areas, which have proved resilient in terms of salary and recruitment, have been identified in this survey.

“2009 has been the most challenging year we have faced yet in the recruitment field,” says Richard Eardley, Managing Director of Hays in Ireland.

“As a consequence of the recession, highly skilled workers across all sectors have seen reduced working hours and benefits, pay cuts and redundancies, with some hit harder than others. While no-one will be surprised to learn that salaries have fallen by up to 30 per cent in the construction sector, accountancy has also been hit hard with reductions of between 10-20 per cent for jobs advertised in 2009,” said Mr Eardley.

Accountancy & Finance

Accountancy & Finance salaries for new positions were down by between 10 and 20 per cent in 2009. This compares to salary increases in 2008 of approximately 4-5 per cent. For those in employment, pay-cuts were accompanied by hiring freezes, elimination of bonuses, shortened hours, reduced pension contributions and reduced leave entitlements. Job seekers in this sector had a particularly difficult 12 months. After a period of denial early in the year, expectations re-adjusted and there was more willingness to be flexible on salary, benefits and short and long term opportunities.

One of the most affected areas in Accountancy & Finance was professional practice, which saw non-renewal of contracts, redundancies and little or no movement from a jobs perspective. However, as many practices have now hit critically lean staffing levels, there are signs of an increase in job registrations.

Some areas though did prove to be recession-proof in Accountancy & Finance: VAT and other tax areas remain buoyant, while finance staff with language skills remained in demand countrywide due to the resilience of the service centre sector. Cost/management accountants and credit managers also continued to be sought after throughout the year.

Construction & Property

The Hays Salary Guide shows that Construction & Property has been the hardest hit of all sectors. Salaries for new positions were reduced by up to 30 per cent in 2009. Redundancies and reduced working hours were also prevalent.

The design companies were the first to feel the effects of the construction collapse and subsequently were the worst hit. There have been large scale lay-offs in architecture and engineering. Unsurprisingly, new activity in the development sector was minimal. Civil engineering proved more resilient at the beginning of 2009, as there were still significant public infrastructural projects underway. However, in the latter part of the part of the year these projects dried up. Consequently, the civil engineering sector also experienced salary cuts of 15-20 per cent.

On a positive note, mechanical and electrical engineers in the power generation sector fared much better with salaries either remaining static or even increasing in some areas. There is now a general feeling that there is some cause for cautious optimism, particularly in the green energy sector.

Office Support

2009 saw office support roles hit hard. PAs, administrators and receptionists can unfortunately be deemed non-business critical and are often the first to go in restructuring, according to Hays. Most redundancies were seen in the construction, financial services, consultancy and practice markets, but even legal secretaries found 2009 a challenging year. Office support roles experienced approximately 10 per cent pay cuts across the board for new jobs. However, those involved in contact centres and service centres fared better; as did candidates with language skills, especially those with Nordic, German and Dutch.


The slowdown in the IT recruitment market began in the latter part of 2008 and continued through 2009. Salaries for new positions saw an approximate drop of 15%. For the first half of the year, job recruitment in all IT disciplines was stagnant; mainly due to uncertainty in the economy, resulting in planned projects being shelved. However, the second half of 2009 has seen an improvement, with cautious investment particularly in E-commerce strategies. The contractor market is the most robust and demand remains for Java, .Net and C# skills.

Financial Services

With financial services so heavily involved in the global downturn, it’s little wonder that 2009 was not a good year for this industry. Salaries have dropped by approximately 10 per cent, mainly because of an oversupply of candidates.

The life and pensions industry has been severely affected; the collapse in the property market resulting in a downturn in the domestic life assurance sector. However, international life assurance has been more steady with some recruitment activity.

Human Resources

2009 saw a dramatic change in the human resources market with most human resource departments experiencing redundancies and downsizing. Therefore, permanent HR vacancies have been at a minimum all year. Conversely, the interim HR market remains healthy. Organisations struggling to cope with downsizing and restructuring found themselves obliged to bring in HR expertise to deal with these troubling changes.


Insurance salaries have been reduced by approximately 10 per cent in 2009 and show no signs of increasing in the near future. The industry as a whole has been dramatically affected by the recession with significant redundancies and organisational recruitment freezes. Demand still remains however for experienced claims handlers/analysts. This is a reflection of the number of claims registered from people feeling the brunt of the recession. There’s also been a notable increase in business development/sales roles within brokerage; although the packages on offer vary from commission only to a basic salary plus commission.

For further information about Hays visit


For more information, to receive a full copy of the “Hays Salary Gudie 2010” or to set up an interview please contact Stephen Flanagan on 01 661 2772. Please find below a list of press releases published in relating our survey's findings:

RTE Online - 14 December 2009

Salaries cut by 30% - survey

Irish Times - 15 December 2009

Most Irish firms cut payroll by 11% - survey

Irish Indepedent - 15 December 2009

Firms slash their costs in struggle to stay afloat

Irish Examiner - 15 December 2009

Flexible staff gain better job security

Daily Mail (Ireland) - 15 December 2009

Earnings for new recruits fall by 30pc

Daily Mirror (Eire) - 15 December 2009

30% worse off

Daily Star - 15 December 2009

Money Matters


About Hays:

Hays plc (the "Group") is the leading global specialist recruiting group. It is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide, being the market leader in the UK and Australia and one of the market leaders in Continental Europe. It operates across the private and public sectors, dealing in permanent positions, contract roles and temporary assignments.

The Group employs 6,933 staff operating from 345 offices in 28 countries across 17 specialisms.

For the year ended 30 June 2009:

  • The Group had revenues of £2.4 billion, net fees of £670.8 million and operating profit of £158 million.

  • The Group placed around 50,000 candidates into permanent jobs and around 270,000 people into temporary assignments.

  • The temporary placement business represented 56 per cent of net fees and the permanent placement business represented 44 per cent of net fees.

For access to the full Hays Salary Guide or to set up an interview contact:

Deirdre Grant

T. 086 0484 279