How recruiters can overcome Australia’s talent shortage

Authored By Mr Simon Greening

APAC Regional Director of APSCo Australia Affiliate Member, Bullhorn

The Australian economy has weathered global instability with resilience. It now faces homegrown uncertainty with the end of the 457 visa scheme, which has led to significant drop in the number of skilled work visas granted. While the country’s growth prospects are strong, the shortage of skilled workers is an ongoing frustration for employers and recruiters alike.

While Australian employment is currently at a six-year low, shortages remain in key areas like STEM. As such, many Australian businesses rely on talent from overseas to fill the tech gap, however, the end of the 457 visa scheme means that between July and December 2017, visas granted for analysts dropped by 50%, visas for developers and programmers dropped by 31% and visas for software engineers dropped by 10% compared to the same period in the previous year.

On the plus side, new recruitment technologies and platforms are transforming how candidates look for work – as well as opening up more channels for recruiters and employers to seek and engage with potential employees. Let’s discuss some underrated and underutilised recruitment tactics that will help you tap into existing talent to deliver real results, such as redeploying candidates, targeted marketing, and leveraging new talent pools with artificial intelligence (AI).

Identify candidates for redeployment

According to Bullhorn’s own research, one fifth of recruitment agencies (22 percent) place less than 15 percent of candidates on their next assignment, and close to half (45 percent) redeploy fewer than 25 percent. According to Deloitte, contingent workers make up about 30% of the Australian workforce, which means that talent is moving between roles regularly. Not tapping into this trend  is an inefficient use of existing talent that has demonstrated valuable skills and abilities – not to mention an unnecessary loss of potential revenue for the recruitment agency.

For recruiters to stay on top of any redeployment opportunities, they need to make sure that their client and candidate database is up-to-date. What’s more, automated alerts that notify you when a candidate’s contract nears completion enable faster redeployment. This responsive agility is crucial to building and maintaining good relationships.

Recruitment CRMs can help recruiters manage the redeployment process. By using the right tools, you can move candidates seamlessly to new contracts, keeping your clients well-staffed without much effort. It also pays to stay in close contact with internal hiring managers and HR teams.

Open communication between you and the HR department makes the redeployment process smoother for all parties. Once the recruitment phase is completed, the HR or hiring manager then takes over the responsibility for onboarding the new employee. This hand-over requires connectivity and communication so that each party knows when to step back and step in.

Develop stronger recruitment marketing campaigns

Our research shows that 87% of recruitment companies don’t have a chief marketing officer. A further 74% are without a vice-president of marketing, and almost half don’t have a specific budget or a marketing strategy in place for the year ahead.

Australia’s labour market may be challenged by its current skills shortage – but it can tap deeper into talent pools by using innovative marketing tactics. Single channel marketing simply won’t reach the desired number of targets. A multi-channel digital approach is essential to reach wider audiences and ultimately find the right person for the job.

Of course, given the number of channels that exist, it can be difficult to choose the right ones for the task at hand. Bullhorn research also shows that 60% of recruiters plan to put more money into social media, while half plan to spend more budget on both email marketing and job boards.  

Personalisation and new technologies are key to planning a good multi-channel marketing strategy. A simple yet clever personalised message has a better chance of cutting through the clutter and reaching the right people. Marketing automation software is vital too. It helps you segment and streamline your data, as well as harness data analytics to build more strategic, recruitment campaigns.

Leverage underused talent pools

Diversity in an important focus area for talent leaders in Australia. According to LinkedIn, a solid 38% of Australian recruiters believe that recruiting more diverse candidates will be a major trend shaping the recruiting industry of the future.  

Marginalised groups such as immigrants, returning-to-work mothers, disabled people, among others – are untapped wells of talent. These groups are occasionally (and often unintentionally) discouraged from applying for certain positions. Leveraging this overlooked talent, with a little help from AI can be an effective way to broaden your candidate reach.

The power of AI in recruitment is that can help foster a more inclusive approach to hiring. For example, it’s not always obvious but many job descriptions are often written in gendered language. This puts applicants off, narrows the response rate to a select few and reduces diversity significantly. Words like ‘dominant’ and ‘challenging’ typically repel female applicants, but a sophisticated machine learning algorithm can detect and remove this type of language through natural language processing.

Candidates can also be exposed to unfair advantages or disadvantages due to race and age, as well as gender. Such bias is easily sparked by a foreign-sounding name for example, or a list of educational institutions. Algorithms can be programmed to ignore this kind of information and help overcome these conscious and unconscious biases that preclude people for reasons unrelated to actual job ability or performance. Of course, given that an algorithm can also be programmed to adopt specific biases, there is still a significant element of human responsibility when it comes to promoting less discriminatory recruitment tactics.

A pregnant woman or a returning-to-work mother may also encounter initial discrimination that moves their résumé to the ‘no’ pile without an interview. It’s traditionally assumed that the employee’s children will prevent them from prioritising their work - even if they’re effectively the ‘breadwinner’ and rely on their salary and job to make ends meet. AI won’t marginalise these candidates and, if their skills and experience are relevant, it will put them forward for interviews.

Harnessing AI in the recruitment process not only helps you tap into a wider pool of talent, it can also identify where a candidate may be better placed – rather than outright rejecting them for the job at hand. This ability to reference other roles ensures more successful placements -  which helps address the current labour shortage.

Thinking outside the box

Australia’s healthy economy provides a wealth of opportunities for recruiters. The demand for skilled talent is there, but traditional recruitment methods won’t manage to fulfil this need. A multi-channel approach that harnesses data and AI, embraces diversity, as well as fosters solid relationships is key to delivering success. The candidates are out there; recruiters simply need to think out of the box and look for faster, smarter ways to tap talent.