Recruiting in today’s candidate-short market

4 mins read
Recruitment Industry clients employer employment trends EMR hiring recruitment resources

One of the most consistent predictions that we came across while researching for Madison’s 2018 Employment Market Report, was that the forthcoming year in NZ will be notable for its shortage of talented, qualified candidates. Our own experiences over the past 12 months certainly provided a few red flags, with an extremely tight labour market evident within some industries, sectors and specific roles.

Of course, if you’ve been involved in the recruitment industry for more than five minutes you’ll know this is a perennial challenge and statements to this effect circulate on a semi-regular basis. But the year ahead does seem different. Consider the combination of market forces that we are facing in 2018 and beyond; very low unemployment rates and high workforce participation; continuing economic strength and industry growth; skills mismatches between the underutilised portion of the labour market, new graduates and the roles on offer. While new job titles have recently been added to our national Skills Shortages list, immigration is not a quick process. The predilection of the younger segments of the labour market to change roles more frequently isn’t helping either. It does appear that we are in for some sourcing challenges.

So, what’s a hiring manager to do when faced with vacant roles, a diminishing pool of candidates and fierce competition? Leaving aside non-recruitment related strategies such as succession planning, training up current employees etc., here are three approaches that will help you when the candidate supplies are running low:

1) Polish and use your Employment Brand. There’s a reason people keep banging on about branding, and if you don’t know what yours is, how to ‘get’ one or how to use it, now is the time. It’s really an inbound marketing approach, except you are looking for candidates rather than customers (side note: still treat them like valued customers though). Your end goal: keen and talented prospects regularly approach your business through multiple channels and ask to work with you. This does happen for organisations that do it well, and you don’t need to be a Silicon Valley behemoth to have an effective employment brand either.

2) Speed up your internal recruitment processes and decision making. Unfortunately, this is still a regular complaint we hear from candidates, and it tends to look like this: Ms or Mr Candidate makes it to interview stage, and because we’ve done our job, they’re a good match for the role and are excited to hear about the next steps. Days goes by…tumbleweed rolls past… the recruiter working the job knows it’s not a ‘No’, but there’s no ‘Yes’ coming either, as the internal cogs of the business grind slowly round. It’s not unusual to lose a great candidate at this stage because the reality is that there are plenty of opportunities out there, and sometimes he or she may be actively considering another offer. Sure, there are usually valid reasons for the delays, but in the current climate, you are competing with businesses who make recruitment decisions a number one priority. Don’t miss out – move fast.

3) Partner with your recruitment agency. In times of great sourcing difficulty, your agency is your friend (if they aren’t, find a better agency). Ideally your recruiter will be able to offer you a deep and broad talent pipeline, their own network and some slightly left of centre sourcing approaches that together will help you fill the role. As we don’t recommend desperation-placement, i.e. hiring a warm body just to fill a vacancy, you might also consider an interim solution in the form of a contractor or temp, while you continue the search.

In the latest Jobs Online report, MBIE reported that the All Vacancies Index[1] increased again in February of this year and you only have to take a quick look at the job boards to get a sense of the demand. It’s a job hunters market, but the candidates are there for the clever businesses who know how to find them. We’ll be interested to see how the next quarter plays out, while deploying our candidate location tools in the background of course.

Are you an employer feeling the pinch? Where are your candidate short-spots? We’d be interested to hear from you if you’re experiencing this challenge, or if you are currently using or considering using one of our suggested approaches.

You can explore additional market trends that are occurring throughout the country in our 2018 Employment Market report, recently released in digital format.



Christian Brown
Chief Operating Officer - Madison and Absolute IT

A bit about me I began my career as a corporate lawyer in a large New Zealand private practice firm. Like many others before me, I ‘fell’ into the recruitment world in 2009.…

More about Christian

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