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5 reasons why I stay, and enjoy recruitment.

Over my 22-year recruitment career, I’ve been asked time and time again by people in my networks – clients, candidates, work colleagues and friends – why the Recruitment industry, what is it that keeps you engaged?

At a time when candidates have become a rare commodity and The Great Reset is a hot topic, my reply remains the same. If you have the passion to make a difference, the drive to capitalise on opportunities and a positive attitude to develop yourself and others, there’s unlimited scope to successfully impact both a client’s organisation and a candidate’s career.

As a consultant, achieving recognition as a professional, a recruiter of choice in my field and a reputation as a trusted advisor for the value I add is not only rewarding, it reinforces my decision to stay.

Here are five reasons why l chose to work in the recruitment industry, and why I believe it’s still the right career choice for me:

  1. Great development opportunities and career progression

Recruiters receive comprehensive training – not just when first starting out, but throughout their career. Learning from colleagues, applied skills training and professional development programs have helped me grow and refine my skills. With dedication and the right attitude, recruitment is a profession where one can build career progression. I have personally been promoted from Resourcing through to Senior Recruitment Consultant and Team Leader of Government and Commercial divisions.

  1. Independence, exclusivity and flexibility

It’s a tremendous career for self-managed high performers. Running a recruitment desk, whether WFH or in the office, is like running your own business. Once you’re fully trained and have all the skills to succeed, you have the opportunity to account manage your own clients and establish exclusive candidate talent pools. It’s a great match between personal responsibility and the support of a wider business. And with our new ways of living and working, the flexibility to better manage your work-life balance.

  1. Making a positive impact on people’s lives

Whether it is finding someone their dream job or helping a client hire the perfect person to grow their business, recruiters have a huge impact on people’s lives. I still get the same buzz of excitement placing someone in a job now as I did when I began my recruitment career over twenty years ago.

  1. Uncapped potential

While you make your own success, you also share in the success of placing the right people in the right organisations and helping candidates achieve their career goals. At the same time, you’re part of the success of the recruitment firm as a whole. It’s a bit like being a shareholder in the business. While there are various remuneration models, most agencies provide a base salary and performance structure that supports consultants to realise their potential.

  1. Recruitment tools are continually evolving

Like many industries, technology has revolutionised recruitment. LinkedIn, for example, has made it easier to network professionally online. It’s also now common to meet over Zoom and Microsoft Teams, which is great for those working remotely or regionally, even internationally. While digital platforms can help to connect people, there’s nothing like face-to-face contact when building relationships.

So, there it is. Five reasons why l chose the recruitment industry and have never looked back.

Are you looking for your next career opportunity after two years of COVID lockdowns and restrictions? Have you considered temporary or contract work? I’d love to hear your feedback on this story.

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Posted in Interchange Bench, The world @work

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

How Australia’s record-low jobless rate will impact cyber security hiring and retention

Australia’s unemployment rate could sink below 4 per cent this year, and fall further to 3.75 per cent by the end of 2023, the nation’s Reserve Bank forecast in February. If reached, that would be the lowest jobless rate in Australia in nearly 50 years. AISA communications manager Nick Moore asked cyber security recruiters, including Jim Morris from Synchro Partners, what this would mean for hiring and retaining staff in the already challenging infosec industry.

If Australia’s unemployment rate falls below 4%, how will that affect staff retention in cyber security?

Jim Morris: “With unemployment rates forecasted to fall below 4 per cent, this amplifies an already apparent short supply of accessible talent in the market and intensifies competition amongst employers, with the possibility of your staff being tempted to greener pastures.

New projects, new technologies and career growth opportunities arise every day so it is evitable that the ‘musical chairs’ in the cyber security marketplace will continue.

This is the nature of the beast as seen in the competitive market pre-GFC (Global Financial Crisis).”

If it falls below 4%, how will it affect recruitment?

Jim Morris: “Prospective, available candidates are already in low-supply, whether you are the local burger shop or a national cyber security firm. That is the brutal truth.

A key difference is, however, cyber security is a relatively niche, specialist area, with an already limited talent pool of available candidates. Couple that with the requirement for candidates in our sector to frequently upskill to keep up with constant changes and we’ve got a recipe for a different level of skills shortage.

Employers will face multiple challenges and obstacles when recruiting new staff – increased competition for talent, less overall supply and changes in candidate/jobseeker behaviour and expectations.

Now is a critical time for employers to review their value proposition to potential recruits out in the marketplace. What can you offer that the competitors in your segment can’t?

In my recent experience securing candidates within areas such as cloud security, penetration testing, incident response/threat intelligence or niche GRC (governance, risk and compliance) areas (IRAP, ISM, PCI) has become increasingly difficult for employers because of the market conditions.”

What advice would you give employers around staff retention? Is it possible to offer too many inducements?

Jim Morris: “First take a step back and really understand what you currently offer and how it stacks up against your competitors. Then look at adding extra value from there.

As a cyber security professional, continually developing their skills is the only way to keep up with the pace and demand of the market. What new skills are you offering your staff? What kind of programs can you offer them to be working on?

These are the key areas staff will consider against other options if they develop a ‘wandering eye’ for new opportunities as they are tangible ‘value adds’ for careers.

It can be easy to get swept up in the price/wage wars, having pinball machines, table tennis tables and fully stocked beer fridges but getting the real, measurable value propositions by way of professional development opportunities is a fundamental starting point for employers.”

What advice can you give around sourcing and hiring staff in this increasingly competitive jobs market?

Jim Morris: “Look inwards first. Have you really looked at which individuals within your organisation have the potential (and willingness) to upskill in order to fill your capability gap? Oftentimes I see clients quick to skip this step, missing real opportunities to find the capability readily available in house, and an opportunity to positively affect retention rates.

Be pragmatic about your list of requirements. Be realistic about what’s readily available out in the market. Does that candidate really exist and can you secure them within your target timeframe? If the answer is not an unequivocal yes, it’s likely time to consider where you can replace hard requirements with opportunities for prospective candidates with relevant experience to develop and upskill.

Moving fast is critical in the current market. Assess your current recruitment process, identify the bottlenecks and where the opportunities to streamline are. Much more often than not, this does not have to compromise the thoroughness of your process.

Candidates are not on the market for long and are often presented with multiple opportunities and offers at any given time.

Know your competition. What is your competition doing and offering and how does your organisation offer a compelling option as a comparison? This could be around a number of different factors – remuneration, professional development opportunities, flexible work arrangements and company culture. You need to know how you’re positioned against competing organisations to help target and secure the right candidate audience.”

Is it better to leave a position vacant than hire a substandard candidate? What strategies can employers deploy to cover for vacancies?

Jim Morris: “Look inwards first. Before going to market, which individuals in the business could redeploy into this role? Sometimes the answer lies within. Is this another opportunity to allow a team member to upskills? This can only have positive effects on your retention rates.

Consider a contingent workforce. A contractor resource has been a viable solution within our industry for years, often in a full-time capacity. Though, the working world is evolving, with the ‘Gig Economy’ seeing a noticeable boom in recent years. Many candidates in the cyber security space have started to engage with clients either on a part-time, ad-hoc or advisory capacity.”

This article was originally published as How Record-low Jobless Rate will Impact Cyber Security Hiring, Retention by the Australian Information Security Association (AISA). This abridged version is published with kind permission of the author.

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Posted in Synchro Partners, The world @work

5 ways to navigate through the current Tech talent shortage

‘Talent shortage’ and ‘skills gap’ are terms that have been thrown about – at times, in my opinion, haphazardly – in the Australian technology sector since I first started recruiting in the space over a decade ago. But never before have these terms rung so true as in the past twelve months.

The heavy blow of the COVID-19 pandemic on our economy, and its subsequent ripple effect on the local technology sector, has created an incredibly challenging landscape for organisations looking to secure Tech talent.

It’s thrown the sector into a two-speed conundrum: an accelerated demand for skills versus a decline in available talent.

Demand for technology skills within Australian companies has reached fever pitch over the last year. The need for organisations to offer online services to customers, implement remote-working infrastructure for employees, and the continued overall appetite for ‘digitisation’ across the board has been exacerbated (with little to no notice) by the lockdowns we’ve seen due to the pandemic. Coupled with a sudden decline in available talent as we shut our borders to skilled migrants, visa-holders returning home to be with their families, and the inadequate pipeline of technology graduates coming through our higher education institutions, employers are now facing a fiercely competitive battle for technology talent.

Scarcity has seen the remuneration expectations of top Tech talent suddenly increase by up to 30% in the past year alone, further adding to the already difficult hiring conditions faced by employers.

So how do employers combat these challenges in the current state of the market?

In my view, there’s no single solution for addressing the talent shortage, but there are a number of things you can do to position your organisation better in current market conditions:

1. Be Prepared

Oftentimes, recruitment is a reactive activity – be proactive and plan ahead. Understand what your organisation, product, project or team will potentially need for the future and get the wheels in motion before you’re ready to hire. Speak to your talent team, align them with your product/project roadmap, and give your supplier partners the heads up.

2. Reassess Your Expectations

The candidate market is competitive. Many organisations are vying for the same candidates – what can you do differently to avoid a bidding war against the competition? Reassess your expectations on hard skills and consider hiring on candidates’ transferrable skills and potential for growth. Don’t pay the premium the market is currently demanding unless you absolutely have to.

3. Upskill Your Team

If there are skillsets that are missing in your current team, upskill them. Investing in your team members will keep them engaged, uplift existing capability, support staff retention and help shorten the ‘shopping list’ of hard skills you’re looking for when going out to market for new team members.

4. Understand your EVP

In a candidate-driven market you are competing with other organisations looking to hire that same individual. Know your Employee Value Proposition (EVP) and how you’re going to ‘sell’ the role/opportunity within your team. Whilst a desirable brand helps, this isn’t about having a ping pong table in the lunchroom. Understand what the organisation’s values are, your vision for the role and how it fits in the team and be able to share this with the candidate. Why should they want to work for you?

5. Move quickly

In such a competitive landscape, it’s important to make a decision on a candidate before your competition does. Assess your current recruitment process and streamline it as much as you can.  How quickly are you contacting candidates who have applied? Which interview stages are critical? How long in between stages? How quickly can you present an offer to the preferred candidate?

There’s never been a more critical time to pay closer attention to how you find, attract and secure Tech talent. How are you navigating through the current Tech talent shortage?

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Posted in Synchro Partners, The world @work