Competition for talent rises as candidates prioritise job security
Despite a series of lockdowns across the country in recent weeks, Australia’s economic recovery from COVID-19 continues to be stronger than expected. But while job ads are on the rise, employers face a growing challenge with fewer job seekers in the market to meet demand.

Research conducted for SEEK reflects a market-wide trend of strong job ad numbers and fewer applications per ad. So, what’s fuelling job seeker reluctance, and how can you find top talent and encourage them to make a move?

Job security is a growing priority among Australians – 31% of employees say they’ve cancelled their plans to switch jobs due to COVID-19, while 40% feel nervous or uncertain about their employment security.

Many workers from industries hardest hit by the pandemic’s economic impact are now looking for jobs in sectors that may offer greater protection from future restrictions. Some of the jobs that have experienced higher demand for workers and significantly more job ads than before the pandemic include nursing, plumbing, childcare and recruitment.

Matt McGilton, Managing Director at Kaizen Recruitment, notes that border closures are creating an extra challenge by preventing the steady return of migrant workers to industries like recruitment.

“For a long time, Australia's recruitment industry has been topped up by international workers, primarily British and Irish, but that's been cut off due to border closures,” he says.

“Every recruiter is looking for a unicorn – someone who knows their market, has a great reputation and can bring in clients and generate revenue. They are harder to find in the current market, so we have to be smart and think laterally for a different solution.”

Understanding the power of transferable skills when recruiting in a challenging job market can help you to expand your pool of candidates and fill the role faster.

Many employers in the Healthcare & Medical industry are also reviewing their approach to recruiting nurses due to declining application numbers.

Samantha Miklos, CEO of Cornerstone Medical Recruitment, says the shortage is a natural consequence of the current health crisis.

“Firstly, there’s a rise in new nursing roles, such as within testing and vaccination centres, which creates interest and draws candidates from traditional nursing roles,” she says. “We also know domestic border closures are resulting in many health professionals wanting to work closer to home, which means we see less applications for regional roles or contract roles.”

Miklos adds that more employers in the industry are seeking to build brand awareness by highlighting the strengths of their organisation.

“Word of mouth in the medical industry is incredibly powerful,” she says. “Recommendations from colleagues, past employees and even customers play a significant role in positive brand awareness. So, with that in mind, employers should look at how they're leveraging testimonials.

“This could be as simple as making sure they are prominently displayed across the website, or as focused as engaging candidates on social media with the view that they will review or recommend your services publicly.

“We’re also advocates for transparency in providing all the key information a candidate needs from the outset – and fast response times,” adds Miklos. “At the end of the day, good people don’t wait. Candidates now highly value job security, flexibility and a good workplace culture.”

McGilton says many employers are increasing salaries to help attract talent, but that workers want more than money. He suggests highlighting your employee value proposition (EVP) to capture their attention.

A unique value proposition can help to attract and retain top talent who align with your company’s brand and mission. It highlights the benefits and rewards offered to employees such as flexible working arrangements, company culture or upskilling and training.

“Candidates are looking for a positive culture, training and career development,” he says. “We've been able to recruit a couple of really good people recently and I think our value proposition around career development was really powerful for them.

Employers like Kaizen value transferable skills, which can help to deepen the pool of talent.

“We do look for specialist recruits, but we're also really happy to hire people with no experience and give them all the training and development they need to have a good long-term career with us.”

McGilton says Kaizen promotes both the training and support it offers all staff throughout the recruitment process.

“We have a career development framework document that we show all our candidates,” he says. “It outlines the training that they’ll receive from us in every step of their career and, that once they’ve ticked off the key competencies at each level, they’ll be promoted. This gets people really excited to work with us because it provides clarity about the future.”

Clarity about making progress at work may also help people to feel more secure – and that’s a growing priority among workers. In a market where job seekers are in short supply, employers must give them a compelling reason to make the move. While money certainly matters, a strong employer brand and a clear picture of the way you help employees develop will help you stand out from the crowd.

Source: Independent research conducted by Nature on behalf of SEEK, interviewing 4800 Australians annually. Published June 2021.