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Why candidates have become a rare commodity

No doubt you’ve heard, Australia’s unemployment rate has fallen to 4% – the lowest since 2008 – and is predicted to fall even lower. SEEK recently confirmed that they are experiencing an all time high in available jobs, coupled with the lowest candidate availability since 2012. Furthermore, the recruitment website confirmed a 40% increase in jobs Australia wide, with an 80% increase in Victoria alone!

In our post-covid capital cities, let alone regional centres, candidates have become a rare commodity. A unique series of events, including continuing Covid outbreaks and mutations, lockdowns, border closures, travel restrictions, lack of migrants, students and working holiday travellers, has combined to create a perfect storm.  And there is no shortage of jobs. I will take this opportunity to send a shout out to all the human resources, hiring managers and recruiters who have displayed continued resilience after everything the last two years has thrown at us. We’ve taken yet another deep breath, dived deeper into the diminishing candidate pool, and continued to successfully place top performing talent – but it is TOUGH!

Engaging candidates (whether passive, engaged, open to a conversation etc.) is actually more than just contacting potential hires. I’m sure those of us on the recruiting frontlines have experienced the highs and lows of candidates: no-shows at interviews, ghosting, withdrawals at the last minute, accepting another role that seemingly came out of the blue, unrealistic salary demands (not so unrealistic as it turns out, when the push for higher remuneration is being met elsewhere)… I could go on! In addition to this, working from home, hybrid work and flexible working arrangements are now arguably the most import factor in determining whether a candidate is even interested in a new role.

In today’s market, understanding the motivation behind an individual’s career move is more important than ever. Whilst salary, work-life balance, career management, professional development, interesting projects and meaningful work are not particularly new concepts, taking the time to explore a candidate’s motivators is somewhat novel. It may surprise some of you to read that I have found the only way forward with candidates is to genuinely service and interact with them. Yes, it’s a return to our old school ways: over communicate, don’t make assumptions, close the conversation loop, gain commitment and follow the process.

If I had a dollar for every candidate that was genuinely shocked when they were called to advise they had been unsuccessful, were given valid feedback on why they didn’t get through an interview, or had a pep talk to prepare them for an interview with the hiring organisation…  

While it may seem candidate loyalty has wavered since the days where employers held all the cards, could it be that we all had a part in driving them away from us because we stopped genuinely caring? It’s food for thought.

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Posted in Business Support, Slade Executive, The world @work

FRAGILE: Handle with care

In the world @work it’s easy to forget that people can have all sorts of other stuff going on in their life that makes them more or less vulnerable. Whether it’s financial strain, stress from their past or current workplace, contending with being made redundant or failing to make initial headway with job applications, there are myriad reasons why people might not cope well with a job interview.

A couple of times recently I’ve interviewed candidates who had good resumes and phone screened well, but at interview it was clear that all was not well in their world. Despite the usual nerves, there were some concerning signs that included being anxious, insecure and defensive; they were clearly people who were in desperate need of work.

These are always tricky situations that call on our professionalism, emotional intelligence and compassion.

As recruiters or hiring managers we spend a lot of time interviewing and we are generally very comfortable with the conversations we have with candidates. Before gathering information about their background, skills and work experience, we aim to put people at ease with some small talk and outline what it is we want to discuss. Sometimes it can feel like speed dating. Even when done well, it can feel a little invasive.

I’m sure I am not alone when I admit that I have struggled with my own job applications at various times in my career. You know how it goes, the contact person was elusive, the interview didn’t run smoothly or I brought a negative work experience to the table that didn’t add value to the discussion. I too have been frustrated because I thought my age or some time out of the workforce was a barrier to making progress. All of those emotions are best left outside the door when we apply for jobs.

Most times a skilled interviewer will put people at ease, overcome their interview anxiety and uncover the value they can bring to an employer. On those occasions when we can’t help a candidate further, we’re guided by respect for the person and our primary objective – to find the right person for the job.

Let’s be mindful that when hiring we are in a position to help or harm and everyone – every one – deserves respect. Take a few minutes to listen to Sting and Stevie Wonder perform Fragile in this video, which prompted me to pause and reflect.

How have you handled a fragile situation in a business context? What did you learn from the experience?

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Posted in Professional Support, The world @work