Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

Addressing skills shortages in Australia: key tactics for recruiters

Aaron McIntosh, APAC General Manager, Bullhorn

The end of Australia’s 457 visa scheme has diminished access to skilled workers – and left employers unable to find the right talent for certain roles.  But beyond looking abroad, recruiters must realign their strategies so that they can continue to meet client demand. Delivering a steady supply of staff in crucial areas is essential in this current labour market.

Here are three key tactics recruiters can deploy to help mitigate some of the effect of the talent shortage and unearth hidden candidates.

Identify candidates for redeployment

Contingent workers make up some 30% of the Australian workforce. In this country, talent is constantly on the move, and previously placed candidates, particularly those in temporary or contract roles, are ideal people to consider as you are seeking to fill a new role. According to our research, one fifth of recruitment agencies place less than 15% of candidates on their next assignment – and close to half redeploy fewer than 25%.

Tapping into the contingent working trend is an efficient way to get started when you’re trying to fill a new role. Of course, we recommend taking the time throughout the process to keep your personal database up to date. That will allow you to easily identify the candidates eligible for quick redeployment. Most importantly, maintain relationships with your placed candidates. If they enjoyed working with you, they are more likely to continue to do so. Do your best to provide an excellent candidate experience. Keep in mind when their contract ends so you can quickly transition them into a new role.

Beyond maintaining those relationships, foster positive relationships with your hiring managers. This will help ensure that the onboarding process is smooth, and it will be another feather in your cap when your candidate considers their next steps after the position.

Redeployment is a win-win situation for the recruiter, candidate and client, and you’ll have spent less time and money on sourcing and placing a new employee.

Create a talent-focused marketing strategy

In today’s working environment, recruitment companies need to sell candidates on positions – rather than the other way around. Despite this reality, our research found almost half of recruitment companies do not have a marketing budget or strategy. Furthermore, 87% do not have a chief marketing officer and 74% do not have a VP of marketing either.

Our research shows that 60% of recruiters plan to put more money into social media this year, while others will spend more of their budget on email marketing and job boards. This is a trend that all recruiters should tap into.

When planning your marketing strategy, remember the power of personalisation. By offering unique, targeted content, you’ll increase your chances of actually reaching desirable candidates.

We also recommend taking advantage of marketing automation software. Many of these programs allow you to segment and streamline your search. You will also have the opportunity to use their analytics to determine if your approach is effective and engaging. You will be able to employ and finetune those strategies for future recruitment campaigns.

Leverage underused talent pools

Bullhorn research shows that 38% of Australian recruiters believe that recruiting more diverse candidates will be the trend that shapes the industry over the next few years.

Looking towards traditionally marginalised groups may allow recruiters to discover untapped sources of talent. Consider examining your database and determining how much representation you have in the following groups: immigrants, returning mothers, the differently abled, and neuro-diverse.

Unconscious bias is often a huge obstacle when it comes to creating a diverse recruitment strategy. Candidates may gain advantage or lose it due to their race, age, gender, orientation, and a number of other factors. For example, a foreign name or school may put off a human recruiter. Some recruiters may rank returning mothers or pregnant women lower, assuming that their children mean they are less likely to be able to do the work or less reliable even if they are the primary breadwinner in their home.

To mitigate these effects, consider using search algorithms that can help overcome these biases. They can be programmed to ignore things that flag human attention. For example, technology can reduce the conscious and unconscious biases that negatively affect the prospects of neurodivergent candidates – whose profiles may demonstrate behaviours that deviate from the norm in ways that can seem strange, but are ultimately irrelevant to job performance.

Another step is to take a closer look at the language you use to write your job descriptions. It can be easy to unintentionally write job descriptions that discourage candidates from marginalised groups from applying. Machine learning algorithms can assist in replacing restrictive language with more neutral phrases through natural language processing.

Machine learning and an intentionally diverse strategy allow you to reduce your rejection rate of otherwise eligible candidates. Overall this can lead to quicker and better placements. Increasing the diversity of the database also leads to continued improvements in diversity at your client organisations – another win-win.