SEEK data reveals that compared to two years ago, applications per ad are down 32%. The fall in applications is broadly affecting all job types, with the number of applications made by each candidate falling 15% on average from the period before the pandemic.
With large parts of Australia experiencing rolling lockdowns, we asked Nicole Gorton, Director at Robert Half, what hirers and managers can do to navigate this period where job ads are attracting fewer applications.
- Job security more important during the pandemic
According to research conducted on behalf of SEEK, 2 in 3 people say because of COVID, job security has become more important to them during the pandemic, with 44% agreeing that they feel nervous or uncertain about their job security.
What’s more, 31% of Australians said they were planning to leave their current job but decided to stay due to COVID.
“The pandemic has seen a shift in the career priorities of many Australians – for the short term at least,” Gorton says. “Many professionals today are concerned that if they move to a new employer, they could potentially be the first to lose their job if the company or economic situation takes a turn for the worse.”
What you can do: “Employers need to be on the front foot when it comes to addressing candidates’ concerns about job security,” Gorton says. “Companies should be prepared to discuss their business continuity plans, particularly as they relate to the candidate, as well as their track record of sustaining revenue, productivity, and headcount through previous lockdowns.”
Where possible it can also be useful to consider offering permanent roles over contracts or trial periods. This can offer a layer of protection to a new employee – something that is highly valued at the moment.
- The impact of borders being closed
In previous years, immigration to Australia has brought a supply of candidates into the job market. But this has been impacted by international border restrictions.
“COVID-19 has brought stricter visa requirements for Australian companies, so there would be fewer international candidates applying for Australian jobs, combined with generally much lower immigration at the moment,” Gorton says.
What you can do: Gorton says hiring managers should be confident that domestic candidates are still willing to change jobs – they may just need a little more encouragement than before.
“Employers need to take a ‘what’s in it for you’ approach when attracting Australian job seekers,” Gorton says. “This can mean drilling down into what makes the role and the company an enticing place to work.”
Think about reviewing and revamping your Employee Value Proposition in light of the current climate, or ensuring you ask candidates what is important to them when considering a new role at the moment. ‘Knowing your audience’ can help you to address concerns and preferences early on.
- Increased competition
“The competition for talent in Australia is tough and only getting tougher,” Gorton says. “Australia’s strong economic forecast and renewed consumer confidence is stimulating aggressive recovery and growth initiatives across industries, which is leading to businesses increasing headcount.”
With borders closed, there is no flow of foreign talent to support this growth. This means skilled local candidates have multiple job opportunities to consider and will often have multiple job offers.
What you can do: “Employers should continually assess and forecast their skills demands,” Gorton says. “Companies should make every effort to streamline the hiring process and act fast once they’ve found a suitable candidate to avoid losing top candidates to the competition. Businesses also should develop clear succession plans to fill emerging talent gaps internally without embarking on potentially challenging hiring processes.”
- Changing candidate expectations
COVID has resulted in many employees working from home, and flexible working is now one of the most in-demand benefits amongst jobseekers. “Office-based or material benefits like social sport or complimentary breakfasts were once competitive company offerings, but it’s now more about how a business can support work-life balance,” Gorton says.
What you can do: “Companies should review their job ads to focus on whether they facilitate flexible working amongst their teams, and how they do it. This could include what remote-work technologies and solutions are on offer to support staff and ensure good processes,” Gorton says.
A drop in applications has been seen across different industries, meaning that success in finding the right candidate for your role may require a different approach or additional tactics. Job seekers seem to be more selective when choosing which roles to apply for. You should focus on ensuring that you have a great job ad, and by using resources like SEEK’s Laws of Attraction portal to tailor your approach to attract job seekers to your role and organisation.
Source: Independent research conducted by Nature on behalf of SEEK. Interviewing 4800 Australians annually. Published October 2021