Those of us living in the Northern Hemisphere have a unique fascination with countries in the Southern Hemisphere: their seasons are reversed and storms flow in the opposite direction. But are the people and their economic concerns any different just because their summer solstice is in December? To get a take on hiring trends in the Australia-New Zealand region, I sat down with Rich Lewis-Jones, Regional Vice President, APAC at SmartRecruiters. Rich and I share the same December birthday, but he gets to celebrate it in the sunshine while I suffer in the cold and dark.
It turns out the current Australian economy isn’t all sunshine and cuddly koalas: similar to Northern countries, Australia has been hit with high inflation rates, unemployment, and a labor shortage. However, the underlying factors differ: during tight COVID lockdowns and layoffs, the borders closed and immigration stalled. “Lots of people had no choice but to leave because they were on sponsored visas,” Rich said, mentioning talent shortages in industries like manufacturing, hospitality, engineering, and healthcare that depend on foreign labor. “Now hiring is hyper-competitive and Brand Australia is making an effort to encourage people to move here again,” he said.
Talent attraction amidst a talent shortage
The effort to attract talent starts with top-of-funnel recruitment marketing activities. “The labor shortage accelerated the need for companies to get creative on where they are attracting talent from,” Rich said. “It’s no longer just about going to transactional places like agencies or job boards. Businesses are working harder on their employer value proposition (EVP) and building intelligent career sites that offer personalized content to increase conversions. They’re connecting candidates to relevant content posted on blogs and sites like GitHub and Reddit. They’re building talent communities through a CRM. Offline, they’re using QR codes.”
This burst of creativity is facilitated by the connected ecosystem of technologies that make sourcing attribution possible. “In SmartRecruiters, you can track your whole top of funnel,” Rich said. “We act as a single source of truth.” That means candidate data from job boards can be compared against readers of a GitHub post by the CTO or visitors to a recruiting event. Companies get an immediate sense of what’s working and what’s not, a theme echoed by SmartRecruiters Australian customer Kincare. By setting up custom sources and tracking IDs with SmartRecruiters open APIs, KinCare can easily see which job boards net the most hires. The insights on what channels work best and where allow them to optimize sourcing channels, reallocate budget in real time, and spend more efficiently.
A hiring ecosystem drives value
The efficiency gains from a connected technology ecosystem go beyond spending. “Recruiters don’t have to leave our system,” Rich said, “but can continue to plug in best-of-breed solutions as new challenges happen and new categories emerge.” Productivity gains on top of non-existent integration fees make SmartRecruiters a compelling choice for increasingly cost-conscious Australian businesses.
“The average company is using between 5-10 integrations,” Rich said. “If they’re using an HCM recruiting module, they have integration activation costs, annual integration maintenance costs, on-going configuration costs, and the cost of a full-time consultant. A talent acquisition suite like SmartRecruiters can significantly lower their OPEX (operating expenses) by eliminating those fees.”
Rich is a big fan of justifying technology expenditures against core hiring success metrics and their contribution to OPEX. In one recent winning pitch, he built a case that showed the value back to the business if the company increased hiring velocity, net hiring score, and budget. Both a minor adjustment and the best-case scenario yielded substantial cost savings by getting the right people in the door faster.
“Businesses learned the hard way that talent acquisition teams are the core of a business,” Rich said, echoing SmartRecruiters’ founder Jerome Ternynck’s perspective in his book Hiring Success: How Visionary CEOs Compete for the Best Talent. “TA teams keep people coming in, help hire quality talent, and help retain talent.” Technology that helps them do their jobs better helps the business overall by providing a great experience.
“Experience is key for everybody,” Rich said. “It’s not just candidates and recruiters. It’s about employees getting a good experience on internal mobility, it’s about managers being prompted to be able to do their job in the most effective way. Most hiring managers don’t like hiring. When we make it as easy for them as possible to get people in the door, we impact the bottom line.”
The friendliest people in the world sitting at TA’s table
As it turns out, making it easy for people is core to the Australian ethos. “We’re some of the friendliest people in the world down here,” Rich said. “But we have very high expectations on communication. It’s a culture of high touch.” When companies use technology to create a high-touch recruiting experience by nurturing candidates with automated processes that communicate next steps in the hiring journey, they’re embracing the Australian way.
The emphasis on relationships extends to the TA community and its events and meetups across the major cities. Talentpalooza and the Internal Talent Awards are a few of the places you’ll find Rich and other folks from SmartRecruiters. “Everybody knows everybody,” Rich said. “They all talk to each other. When there’s something positive, it’s like a pinball machine with all the good balls going off.”
The good balls right now include hiring teams getting their due. “I just love to see talent acquisition teams having more of a voice and not just a seat at the table, but maybe their own table where CEOs want to come and sit,” Rich said. With a core recruiting system that gives them actionable data that offers real business value, Rich said, “More and more, the C-suite is not just coming to sit, but saying, ‘how can I help you out? How much do you need?'”
Rich is just one of 14 hiring experts quoted in our latest eBook, Global Hiring Trends 2023: How Talent Acquisition Can Adapt and Thrive in 2023 and Beyond.
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