A chronic skills shortage in recent years has prompted many employers to rethink their recruitment strategy.
Experts say a best-practice approach involves understanding what candidates really want from their next job — and how you can appeal to their needs.
Starting with a strategy
Strategies for attracting the right candidates to your business will be a focus of the upcoming ANZIIF Webinar, ‘Hiring in 2023 — Overcoming Talent Shortages’. Recruitment specialists will reveal insights such as candidate motivations in 2023 and best-practice approaches to recruitment in a tight employment market.
“The best-practice approach is to not only focus on the potential market of candidates, but to also focus on the talent that you have and to understand what motivates them and how you can keep them in your business ,” says Giorgio Xindaras, Partner at recruitment firm Sharp & Carter and a panellist at the ANZIIF webinar.
“Your employee value proposition should be something that you amplify both inside and outside your businesses.”
Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics puts the current unemployment rate at 3.5 per cent. That’s the lowest rate since the 1970s. In a tight labour market, candidate bargaining power is strong. But what do they really want from an employers?
Laurie Paine, Principal Legal Consultant at recruitment firm Blake Oliver, says understanding candidate motivations is key to attracting the best talent.
“The skills shortage continues to be an issue across most industries,” she says. “Border closures during the pandemic added to the challenges, but what we’ve also seen is more people rethinking their career and changing industries. This has also impacted the number of available candidates.”
Paine adds that macroeconomic factors, such as inflation and spikes in interest rates, are also influencing candidate behaviour.
“People want job security, so there's more reluctance to move as a result of that,” she says. “A lot of people are staying put to see what happens with things like interest rates.”
Xindaras is also seeing a greater focus on job security among potential candidates.
“There’s a concern for employees that making a change to a new unfamiliar environment is more ‘risky’ in times of economic uncertainty than staying with their current employer," he says.
"This is deterring a lot of people from looking around for new roles. There's a lack of movement in the market at the moment because of that really strong desire for job security and familiarity.”
In the current economic environment, few employers can promise job security, so how can they foster confidence in potential candidates and encourage them to make the move?
Xindaras suggests promoting your business success stories in the market.
“If you’ve just won a big contract, secured more investment or are performing well in general, spread the word,” he says. “Candidates want to work for businesses where they feel confident that their job will be secure."
Paine also recommends discussing business success in job interviews.
“Don’t just expect candidates to tell you about themselves and why they’d be a good fit for your business,” she says.
“Explain why you’re a good fit for candidates, and that includes being transparent about work that’s in the pipeline, so that they feel confident that your business is succeeding, despite current challenges in the market.”
Recruiters are also seeing a behavioural change among candidates who are seeking a new role.
Paine says that while candidates used to apply for a new role, attend an interview and hope for success, they are now more likely to shop around for the best deal.
“Candidates used to accept an offer if it met their conditions, but what we’re seeing a lot more of now is candidates weighing up their options, because they may be receiving multiple job offers at once.
“People are very interested in what wellbeing initiatives are being offered by a potential employer,” adds Paine.
“Hybrid working is now considered non-negotiable for a lot of candidates, but they’re also attracted to things like subsidised gym memberships, employee seminars about things like mindfulness and resilience — anything that supports their personal life as well as their professional life.”
Candidates are also increasingly drawn to employers with strong corporate social responsibility credentials, says Paine.
“In the past, it was very rare for candidates to ask about an employer’s corporate social responsibility policies,” she says. “But that has changed since the pandemic, and as more of the younger generations join the workforce.”
ABS data shows annual wage growth rose to 3.3 per cent in the December quarter of last year.
Xindaras says salary remains a motivating factor for candidates, but while they may be tempted to move for more money, it won’t necessarily make them stay.
“In my opinion the best way to go about recruitment in the current market is to take a long term outlook,” he says. “I think a lot of businesses are potentially recruiting for the here and now.
"Businesses have also gone through a degree of stress over the past few years, whether it's a result of COVID lockdowns or adjusting to hybrid working, but to attract people and to build a talented team that really wants to do their best every day, you need to create a compelling employee value proposition.
Xindaras adds that employers could ask themselves what sets themselves apart.
“What are the benefits of working for you? What growth opportunities do you offer your employees? How serious are you about flexibility and what does it look like at your company? What kind of programs does your business run around health and wellbeing?”
Paine says that a best-practice approach to recruitment in the current market includes tapping into a passive talent pool.
“At the moment, we are having the most success from approaching passive candidates — those who are not actively looking for a new job,” she says.
“If people are actively applying for roles at the moment, it's highly likely they're applying for multiple roles and if employers aren't moving quickly enough in terms of making an offer and moving their recruitment process along, those candidates are being snapped up by their competitors.
“So, we are certainly having the best success by approaching the passive candidate market and really talking up the employee value proposition of our clients.”
The inspiration to improve
Xindaras hopes attendees at the upcoming ANZIIF webinar gain inspiration to help improve their recruitment experience for prospective candidates.
“There may be some strategies that you haven’t thought about yet,” he says. “But any approach to recruitment should factor in your current workforce.
“It’s harder to attract new talent in the current market, so make sure you’re also thinking about ways to retain the talent you have.”