The Great Candidate Shortage

Posted On 16 Jun 2021

The Great Candidate Shortage

16 Jun 2021
Are you hiring right now and struggling to find talent?

Employer Resource, News & Events

Are you hiring right now and struggling to find talent?

If you are shocked by the condition of the ‘current’ job market and the lack of available workers, you are not alone. The challenge is not solely reserved for corporates either. It seems the plight of finding the right new hires is everywhere. Talk with your suppliers, local café, schools, gym, florist, etc., and you will be enlightened!

As a recruiter, I immerse myself wholly in the job market. I live, breathe, sweat, stress and work it. I am well accustomed to what we are all now experiencing.

The next hurdle to face, however, is accepting this is our reality for a long time to come. The answer, of course, is not to be defeated by the situation. There is always a way! So, if you are hiring right now, I thought to share some practical insights and tips.

How do we find ourselves in this predicament?

Total fertility rate, 1935 to 2019

These reduced birth rates have been occurring for decades, meaning babies born since the early 80s are 40 years and younger right now, but at a significantly reduced proportion of the population compared to the past.

  • Having a say. The Pandemic raised the importance of having choice and exercising it in crucial life circumstances, and career seems to be at the top. Employees want to be co-creators of their working experience and know what they want and expect from their employers.
  • Job insecurity. People are more reluctant to leave roles. Our recent EST10 survey shows job security as number two in employees’ priority.

All of this contributes to the unemployment rate of 5.5%. Prior to this, it was 4.1% in April 2008- the lowest rate recorded since monthly estimates started being released in February 1978. This reduced selection pool puts considerable constraints on our job market and for any business looking to grow with hiring as their core strategy.

The longer this condition lasts (and it won’t abate any time soon), the more pressing the imperative for companies to rethink and discover different ‘places’ and ways to source talent. If you decide to keep trying to recruit the way you used to, even as short as 6 months ago, be prepared to risk an ongoing empty seat.


So what can you do?
  • Secure your existing employees. Strategies for growth need to have talent at the helm, with retention as key.
  • Ensure leaders have the right people skills in leading, motivating, and inspiring teams. Have regular meetings with your employees to keep your finger on the pulse of how people are feeling. Even if you cannot stop a departure, you are far better to be ahead of it and not taken by surprise.
  • Conduct a salaries audit on existing staff members to ensure they are at the market level and adjust where needed. It is far more effective to offer an increase to match the market than negotiating at a counteroffer stage. A counteroffer may have more toll than imagined and cost you dearly. If your employee operates at a higher-than-average level, consider paying accordingly.
  • Conduct a skills audit and a gap analysis of needs for the future. Upskill and reskill where needed. It may have the added benefit of retention. In a recent survey (LinkedIn 2019 Workplace Learning Report), 94% of employees say they would ‘stay longer at a company if it invested in their learning and development’.
  • Succession planning- highlight and train accordingly. Train on human skills (check out my book, “Employable”), such as being dependable, reliable, resilient, enterprise-skilled and self-aware. These are much-needed skills in today’s workforce that go far beyond the technical job skillset. These skills will see your workforce and business have a competitive advantage.
  • Consider automation/ technology/ outsourcing. It may be a compromise and not entirely ideal- but an ongoing empty seat is far worse. For example, if you are struggling to hire an internal recruiter or marketer, outsource the recruiting or marketing, even if it’s just for the short term. Make it someone else’s responsibility!
If you are recruiting, here are some tips!
  1. Rewrite the job description to be relevant to the real needs of the business. List what you can trade-off (e.g., years of experience) and list what you can train on. Recruit to the must-have skill only.
  2. Work exclusively with a specialist recruiter.
  3. Line all processes up and ahead of time (make it a priority). Two weeks of interviews are yesterday’s heroes.
  4. If recruiting yourself- ensure you write excellent ad copy (see my video) and be efficient in screening applications. Consider non-traditional ways to recruit- not just job boards. Go to industry groups, internal employees, suppliers for referrals.
  5. Utilise talent remotely from regional areas. For some people living remotely, you might represent their dream job. Also, consider people exiting our cities to live in regional areas. The Pandemic has shown us that working remotely can be productive. Be open and flexible to where and how talent might present itself.
  6. Make timely decisions and offer asap. Have the contract and letter of offer ready to go. Start your new hire straight away or as soon as possible. Delays may put your new starter at risk.
  7. Consider a rhino as your unicorn recruit! If you are confused, I am referring to last week’s blog! View everyone for their unique attributes. Observing as we used to through a set’ lens or frame’ no longer works. Following on from this approach, for the first time in our workforce, we have 5 generations working together! What opportunity can that bring!

The final consideration- put yourself in the shoes of the job seeker and try to understand their mindset and needs. If you can do this, even to a small degree, you will be halfway to navigating and understanding the environment shaping our hiring future. The psychology of the job seeker is far more than meets the eye, but that’s for another blog!

‘It’s easy to come up with new ideas; the hard part is letting go of what worked for you two years ago, but will soon be out of date.’ — Roger von Oech

About the author
Roxanne Calder
Managing Director

As Founder and Managing Director at EST10, Roxanne has an all-encompassing role that includes building and growing the business, as well as actively recruiting and consulting.

After completing a Bachelor’s Degree at Monash University, Roxanne began her recruitment career with renowned recruiter Julia Ross. From there, Roxanne worked in HR and recruitment with a number of global players and boutique businesses throughout Australia, the UK, Singapore and Hong Kong for over 20 years. She has been responsible for managing large teams and projects, implementing RPO models, managing and assisting businesses to an IPO and assisting companies in setting up their recruitment teams and processes.

Following completion of her MBA at the Australian Graduate School of Management, Roxanne launched EST10 in July 2010. In doing so, she hoped to combine the flexibility and high touch service levels of boutique agencies with the structure and strategy afforded to larger firms. Roxanne believes in high-touch, high-care consulting and is always on the lookout for consultants that share this vision of recruitment.