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SECRETARIAL JOBS ALIVE AND WELL, BUT HIRING PRACTICES CHANGING, ACCORDING TO SURVEY BY SNELLING PERSONNEL SERVICES

 DALLAS, March 17 /PRNewswire/ -- The job of secretary, despite the recession, computerization and increased opportunities for women up and down the corporate ladder, is alive and well, according to a survey by Snelling Personnel Services, though hiring practices have changed recently.
 More than one-third (38 percent) of the office service placement specialists surveyed believe demand for secretaries will increase over the next several years, while 58 percent believe it will remain level. Only 4 percent believe demand will decrease.
 Snelling, which has more than 300 offices nationwide, surveyed its 130 offices that specialize in full-time and temporary office service placements. The term secretary, in this survey, encompasses administrative assistants, word processors, customer service clerks, bookkeepers, clerical personnel and receptionists.
 Increasingly, however, secretaries are being hired first on a temporary basis before corporations are either willing or able to make a decision on full-time employment. Nearly one-quarter (23 percent) of all secretaries are employed on a temp-to-hire basis, meaning they are hired for a set period of time (usually around 13 weeks) before a decision is made on whether or not to offer the secretary a full-time position. In some states, particularly down south in Georgia, Florida and Virginia, 50 percent or more secretarial hires are on a temp-to-hire basis.
 "The lingering effects of the recession have made corporations, large and small, leery about restaffing too quickly," said James Money, president of Snelling. "Temp-to-hire saves a corporation many of the expenses incurred with hiring, including medical benefits and unemployment insurance, until such time as they are sure they want a full-time employee."
 In addition to temp-to-hire, many corporations are opting for temporaries on an ongoing basis. Slightly more than one-quarter (26 percent) of corporations, according to the survey, prefer to hire temporaries as needed to complete their office services tasks.
 "The average skills and reliability of temporary secretaries has greatly increased, having a positive effect on the number of corporations anxious to hire them," said Mr. Money. "The pervasive use of computers in business today has made a large percentage of our temporaries computer literate. The recession has made people more concerned about getting and keeping a job, thus making them more reliable."
 The recession has also swelled the ranks of men and college graduates applying for secretarial positions. Though only 3 percent of the secretaries placed nationwide are male today, according to the survey, in some states, particularly Maryland, Texas, Indiana, Virginia, New York and Hawaii, the percentage ranges from 5 to 35 percent.
 "There are two types of men we see applying for secretarial positions," said Mr. Money. "One is the college graduate who wants to get a foot into a good company. He has the secretarial skills, such as computer knowledge, because of the necessities of college. The other type is the middle aged man who was laid off and desperately needs a job. Though they don't usually have the typing skills, they can easily be placed in temp positions requiring filing, light industrial or even switchboard duties."
 College graduates are not alone in using the secretarial position as a stepping stone into management or other positions. Slightly more than one third (34 percent) of people applying for secretarial positions have other rungs on the corporate ladder in mind. This is particularly true on the East Coast, where in states like New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Florida and Maryland, the figure rises to 50 percent or more.
 The recession has definitely impacted salaries, according to the survey. Though salaries haven't decreased, they have basically remained level over the past two years. The average salary nationwide for an entry-level secretary is $14,043, according to the survey. The average salary for a secretary nationwide with five years of experience is $20,458.
 The highest salaries for entry level positions tend to be on the East Coast, while the lowest tend to be in the Midwest and South. The highest salaries for seasoned secretaries tend to be on the East Coast, while the lowest tend to be in the West and Midwest.
 For example, the entry level salary on the East Coast averages $17,571; in the West $13,900; in the South $12,650 and in the Midwest $11,947. The salary for experienced secretaries averages $24,429 in the East; $20,687 in the South; $17,080 in the West and $15,470 in the Midwest.
 Some fields, according to the survey, offer more lucrative opportunities for secretaries than others. Nearly half of those surveyed (46 percent) believe the best field for secretaries now is medical, followed by legal (38 percent). Other fields mentioned were banking (4 percent), high tech (4 percent) and insurance (4 percent).
 Finally, today's secretary, in order to get a good job, according to Mr. Money, should be able to type 60 words per minute and have knowledge of Word Perfect, Lotus and Harvard Graphics. And, he says, self- confidence and a positive work ethic are still valued assets.
 -0- 3/17/93
 /CONTACT: Erika Freed of Ruder-Finn, 212-715-1538, for Snelling and Snelling/


CO: Snelling and Snelling ST: Texas IN: SU: ECO

WB-OS -- NY057 -- 7082 03/17/93 13:32 EST
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Date:Mar 17, 1993
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