The Recruiter's Soapbox

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The year ahead. A snap shot of the Australian recruitment market through the eyes of a rec2rec

Candidate mobility

Towards the end of the financial year candidate movement slowed.  We have seen some “pick up” in the last two weeks as people reassess their situations going into a new financial year, and as bonuses are announced.  Demand for, as usual, far outweighs supply of quality, sales-focussed recruitment consultants.  We are continuously battling the challenges of a candidate-short market.  Due to this low supply, some markets have opened up to us again; the flow of candidates from the UK being markedly up on 2 years ago.  The appetite and willingness to hire a well-trained, sales consultant directly from overseas is strong.

As per usual, 360 degree, sales-focussed consultants with the ability to open doors, build strong relationships and harness a variety of up-to-date candidate attraction strategies are in huge demand.  With demand for talent outweighing supply, companies are open to training again.  Be it a hungry, driven rookie or a proven performer with a desire to change sectors, the market is finally responding to the need to invest in its people and we have seen our clients become more open-minded to investing in training.  Our early careers desk, which places people into their first ever recruitment role, produced record results in 2014/15; this is an encouraging indicator for the future of our industry.

Another encouraging sign is that true leadership roles and senior management opportunities are back.  I talked 12 months ago in my blog about the worrying trend of management roles disappearing from our industry.  I argued that with no thought leaders in place, what chance did our industry have to find its place within a vastly changed industry landscape.  I am pleased to report that they are back.  15% of BMR revenue last year came from management level roles as businesses focus in again on quality leadership, entrepreneurial and strategic thinking.

Obstacles to moving top senior talent are coming in the form of counter offers and in a lot of cases they are working.  We have seen candidates resignations refused and countered up to 4 times to block them leaving.  More than ever, companies hoping to secure top talent, have to come up with an offering outside of straight financials that is so compelling that it just simply cannot be matched.  Agency USP’s including investment in personal development, cutting edge tools of the trade, value added services have never been more important.

Individual sector round up

For the last 2 years we have experienced huge demand for recruiters to bolster numbers within the construction industry as this sector gained momentum.  After some aggressive hiring, demand has slowed within the latter half of the financial year, with a focus now on steadying the ship and increasing productivity with the teams in place.

IT remains strong.  Many of our clients have reported record results for the final quarter of 2014/15. We are seeing an increase in requests for delivery focussed consultants and strong account managers, a key indication that demand for hiring within the enterprise account level is strong.

Digital is the buzz word on everyone’s lips as we witness a migration of digital talent moving from their traditional home within advertising agency land to corporate client side businesses.  This trend has meant that mainstream agencies, who may already hold PSA’s with these clients, have had to focus on building up their digital recruitment capability in the last 6-12 months,  increasing the level of competition in the digital space.  It’s not just your typical, cool, casual dress recruitment agency focusing on this market now.

The all-encompassing term “Digital” is now coming under scrutiny and we see further specialisations being defined within this space.  One client commented that they are now not only being asked to tender for digital panel work separately to IT, they have even been asked to tender separately for specific role types – analytics being the example given.

Have we reached saturation in this market? Is defining yourself as a digital specialist enough, do you have to go more niche again? The competition is certainly at fever pitch and recruitment agencies are having to adapt their hiring policies when adding new recruiters into the mix.  Rec2Recs are briefed differently in this space now; the focus is now not on sales machines who can bring on jobs and new clients but exceptional individuals with creative candidate attraction strategies in place and a proven ability to find and harness talent in this increasingly talent-short market.

Banking remains steady but agencies operate in a totally different manner and in a lot of cases are streamlined models compared to years gone by, due to the increased capability of inhouse recruitment teams and the impact this has on work flowing through to agencies.

Accounting recruitment agencies seem to be still running very lean in terms of numbers of consultants, but are producing solid results.  Agencies who in the past talked to us of plans to reach 50 Consultants, today operate at 10.  It seems to be quite fragmented with a large number of much smaller players servicing the market.  One major player which is currently rolling out its national expansion plans has actually made the decision in Sydney to go against its traditional model by not launching an accounting or banking division, preferring to break into totally  new waters in the health and medical space.

Business Support. Many agencies in this space are posting solid results. Once an area thought under threat from internal recruitment teams, it seems that established specialists players in this space really do offer value to their clients. As Paul Darby – MD of Accountablity says, the speed to market that their database offers their clients is a major value add. They can deliver in good time against temp assignments and their database of candidates saves a client the unproductive time of trawling through the typical seek ad response of 100 unsuitable candidates. Typically the candidates you are looking for in this space are not on linked in, so a partner agency with a solid database of talent is a major attraction to clients.

Business remains strong in healthcare, but due to increased competition in the space, recruitment roles have changed and these businesses are having to hire more sales-focussed consultants to keep their place with a competitive market.

Sales recruitment teams are busy and always looking to add new talent into the mix.  Most agencies in this space are happy to hire recruiters from other sectors as long as they display the attributes necessary to succeed in this space; high levels of emotional intelligence being at the top of their list.

Executive search models are going strong.  Even Tier 1 businesses with sizeable internal recruitment teams still need these agencies to tackle senior, hard-to-fill roles, which typically require detailed and often global searches to fill.

The internal recruitment space is continuing to grow as businesses move beyond transactional recruitment teams into proactive Talent Acquisition.  As such, we are seeing the creation of Resourcer roles to support Recruiters and Sourcing Specialist roles to focus on strategic sourcing for key roles or projects.  Whereas small teams with fewer jobs on typically have been able to have talent management and succession planning conversations with their hiring managers, we are now seeing larger teams morph into Talent teams.  Salaries have not increased since pre-GFC due to the candidate-rich market of experienced internal recruiters and agency recruiters wanting to move inhouse but with the additional career paths within talent management as well as talent acquisition may at last improve this.

The skills of agency recruiters, such as search, database management, stakeholder management and consultation, are very much in demand in internal teams.  To succeed in an internal recruitment role, agency recruiters need to be able to show that they are not ‘salesy’ despite having worked in a sales environment, can follow a set process, and deliver on a higher volume of roles while working with multiple stakeholders offering additional touchpoints throughout the process.

Regional Comparisons

WA recruitment has been hit hard due to the slump in the resources market with no investment, expansion plans or new projects locally on the horizon.  Quality, financially-motivated consultants have been heading over to the eastern seaboard in droves to capitalise on more buoyant markets; engineering and construction sectors have particularly benefited from this movement of talent.

Brisbane is certainly not setting any records right now and we see a number of Brisbane based firms looking to other states to satisfy their desire for growth.

It feels like Melbourne is on the rise.  Despite BMR operating from a sole Sydney base now, we are feeling the demand from Melbourne agencies as they reach out further afield to find a rec2rec who might partner with them.

All in all, clients seem happy with the current market and feel that business is there for the taking.  A positive place to start the new financial year.