How winning a recruitment award can reshape your future
After the unique challenges of 2020, excellence in recruitment is even more worthy of celebration.

The SEEK Annual Recruitment Awards (SARAs) are returning to shine a spotlight on the dedication and innovation of recruitment agencies and professionals from across the country.

Judged by an independent panel of industry leaders, the SARAs are open to all professionals across the recruitment industry. Now in their 18th year, they are recognised as an endorsement of excellence and the awards night is widely considered a highlight of the recruitment industry’s social calendar.

But there’s much more to the SARAs than a lavish social event. Charles Cameron, CEO of the Recruitment, Consulting and Staffing Association Australia & New Zealand (RCSA), is one of the judges in this year’s SARAs.

He says the 2021 awards are even more significant given the disruptions of last year. “After all the challenges of COVID in 2020, we’re facing a talent shortage that is going to grow and grow over the course of the year, so it’s absolutely critical that we highlight what excellence in recruitment and staffing looks like,” says Cameron.

He is also Vice President of the World Employment Confederation, and leads more than 50 recruitment and staffing associations from across the globe as Chair of the National Federations Committee. He brings an excellent depth of knowledge and experience to this year’s judging panel. 

“Awards bring the industry together to rally around professionalism and to highlight the need to support one another and recognise greatness.”

Diversity matters

This year’s SARA categories have been expanded to include an award for Best Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Initiative. Finalists of this award will consider and incorporate these initiatives into aspects of the candidate experience.

Cameron says diversity and inclusion is a key characteristic of high-performing recruiters and agencies.

“COVID has highlighted the need to ensure that we have as wide a group of candidates as possible,” he says.

“Border closures have resulted in far fewer international candidates and, with more people working from home, it’s allowed those who might have been less able to work from an office to demonstrate that they can deliver great value to a firm working remotely. It’s becoming more important for recruitment agencies to demonstrate how we can leverage a more diverse talent pool.”

Benchmarking against the best

Awards such as the SARAs provide a valuable benchmark for industry excellence. Cameron says this sends an important message to clients and candidates and also sets a high standard for individual recruiters and agencies to aim for.

“It's increasingly important to use the awards period and the review of awards to understand why we do what we do,” he says.

“It’s because we want to provide high levels of service, ensure that candidates and clients are receiving a great experience and also to benchmark ourselves against others. Quite often, we want to achieve more than ‘good.’ We want to achieve ‘great’. Awards give us that standard for continuous improvement.”

A powerful boost to your brand

In a talent-short market, branding is set to become even more valuable as candidates seek to align with recruiters who can bring something special to their career. Awards are an effective way to build the credibility of your personal and organisational brand.

“It’s very easy to post something on social media about how skilled or dedicated or professional you are,” Cameron says. “But there’s a difference between expressing what you believe you have versus the endorsement of highly regarded judges who independently and objectively look at what you are offering, either as an individual or as an agency.

“Having that validation from a group of industry experts is quite critical to getting cut-through in a saturated field of digital promotion. I think awards such as the SARAs and the RCSA Industry Awards are absolutely critical to differentiating how you build genuine partnerships with talent, as opposed to simply providing a service.”

Tips for a standout submission

Cameron has been a judge in many industry awards over the past two decades. He recommends checking the criteria of an award closely and making sure your submission aligns to it well before hitting ‘submit’.

“As judges, we’re looking for something other than business as usual, we are looking for innovation. However, we always come back to the criteria of the award, so it’s important that submissions reflect this.”

Cameron also recommends including measurements of achievement in your submission.

“We're looking for firms or individuals who have shown growth and evolution – how they have listened, how they have analysed the market and how they have looked to develop either themselves or develop the organisation to benefit others.”

If you want to benchmark your performance against the very best, boost your brand and be recognised as an industry leader – it’s time to start planning your SARAs submission.

Entries for the 2021 SEEK Annual Recruitment Awards opened on June 10. Visit for details.