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How Australian businesses can recruit amidst a skills shortage crisis

By Kim Seeling Smith
06 December 2021 | 1 minute read
How Australian businesses can recruit amidst a skills shortage crisis

It’s estimated Australia needs somewhere between half a million and a million skilled workers to address our current labour shortage. The borders opening isn’t going to be a magical solution, so short of human cloning, how can Australian businesses handle this crisis?

By thinking radically differently, in a fiercely competitive market, we must stand out from the crowd.

Most companies wouldn’t think of writing their own marketing copy to attract new customers. Yet when it comes to attracting employees – a resource far more in demand than customers – they write their own job ads and put candidates to sleep in the process. 

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Don’t write your own job ad; hire an expert to help you understand what you offer that’s truly unique, and hire a marketing firm to help you write a job ad that appeals to your candidate pool. Use video and graphics. Personalise your ads and get people excited about the prospect of working for you and no one else. 

After you’ve got the candidates interested, treat them well. Many companies still operate as though there are far more candidates than jobs, even though the opposite will remain true for the next decade. They make candidates jump through unnecessary hoops, treat them like they are even lucky to be considered for an open role and then ghost them when they are unsuccessful. 

Instead, provide an exceptional recruitment experience. Make it easy, make it fast, and make it enjoyable. Whatever you do, get back to all candidates, successful or not, with honest feedback and something they can take away to help them in their next application process.

Companies can also think differently about how to fill roles. The old paradigm of one job for one person is quickly disappearing. Instead, think about the tasks that need to be done like a jigsaw puzzle. Which pieces of the puzzle can be automated? Which pieces can be done by someone overseas? Which can be done by someone with the right skills but no experience in your industry? 

In 2020, telecommunications firm Ericsson began hiring biologists and putting them through extensive training programs to become data analysts. The training was expensive but proved to be far cheaper than leaving roles unfilled. 

Make sure you also have a broad pool from which you fish for candidates by considering job share arrangements, older workers and people with disabilities, and upskill and reskill your existing staff to make sure you never lose good employees – be sure to look one to three years into the future to cover your needs with reskilling.

Lastly, look to boost employee retention by ensuring you have quality managers and team leaders. If you have managers or supervisors who consistently lose people, don’t look for people to replace those you lose – dedicate your resources to train or replace the manager or supervisor. Study those managers and supervisors who everyone wants to work for. What do they have that the others don’t? Hire, train and promote for those characteristics.

These solutions are not simple. But companies need to accept that the old recruitment strategies are no longer the best. Companies who understand this and begin to set themselves out from the crowd in 2022 will be around to celebrate 2032.

Kim Seeling Smith is the CEO of Ignite Global.

How Australian businesses can recruit amidst a skills shortage crisis
Kim Seeling reb
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