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Attracting staff in a highly competitive market

​Technology & Projects Recruitment Overview

It’s been just over a year since COVID impacted Australia heavily but the good news is that we are back to a relative normalcy.

For the majority of 2020, hiring was down and there were a lot more candidates actively seeking new opportunities. Well, Q1 of 2021 has been polar opposite.

The same hiring strategies that worked then, won’t yield the same results in the current market. The Business Transformation and IT recruitment markets are extremely competitive. I’ve written this article to help hiring managers or decision makers attract talent in highly competitive markets.

Candidate Behaviour Changes in Highly Competitive Market

In a highly competitive market, demand for great talent is high and supply is low. This means that candidates with highly sought-after skills and experience are approached with job opportunities regularly. They have a wide variety of choice over who they work for and the benefits available. They generally aren’t desperate for a new role and would prefer to wait until they find an organisation and role that is aligned with their goals and values. However, don’t be fooled! Just because they aren’t desperate for a new role, it doesn’t mean that your competition isn’t doing everything they can to attract this talent.

It’s also more common for candidates to have multiple offers or even wait until they have multiple offers before weighing up which one best suits them for their next move.

The amount of time a candidate is on the market is greatly reduced as well. Currently, the average duration an experienced candidate in IT/Digital is on the market is approximately 9 days.

Impact on Organisations

Recruiting takes a lot of time. Developing advertising, reviewing shortlists, interviewing candidates, compiling approvals and paperwork, all takes time. You don’t want to get to the end of the process, offer the candidate just to find out they accepted an offer from your competitor a week beforehand. And you may very well be back to square one. Missing out on a great potential hire has the average cost of $30,000 for an organisation.

How to Avoid Common Mistakes

​Before going to market with the role


Have a clear idea around exactly what you’re looking for. If it is a rare skillset, you may have to consider which skills/experience is essential and which would be a “nice to have” but not essential.

Remove barriers: If you aren’t sure, understand which internal processes need to be completed in order to onboard a new staff member. Where internal processes allow, get any approvals completed before going to market to avoid slowing down the process.

Value proposition:

Organisations need to adapt from a “Why does the candidate want to work for us?” approach to a “How can we position ourselves so the best candidates will want to work for us?” This will impact branding, message to market and the interview process.

Partner exclusively with an agency:

I might be biased on this one! However, here’s my shameless plug. Choose one agency to partner with exclusively so they’re able to dedicate time and resources to provide the best possible service and the message to market is consistent. You never know, they might even give you a discount on rate for your commitment. Have the timelines and expectations of deliverables agreed up front which will enable the process to run as smoothly as possible. From my experience, partnering with a recruiter who is able to demonstrate their understanding of your business, the talent market you’re interested in and alignment of values will yield far higher fill rates than a “spray and pray” approach of giving a less detailed brief to multiple agencies.

After going to market


Timing is essential. If you are behind your competition in terms of moving candidates from shortlist to written offer, you are less likely to get the best talent. On the flip side, if you can complete this process more quickly than your competitors, it will increase your chances of securing the best talent.

The Recruitment Process

  1. Recruitment planning

  2. Strategy development

  3. Searching

  4. Screening

  5. Evaluation & control

Lack of ambiguity:

Flexibility for you is ambiguity to a candidate. Before reaching out to market to find candidates, make sure you have a clear plan around your recruitment strategy, timeframes and process from interview to written offer.

Compromise if required:

For example, if you can’t arrange a suitable time to interview a candidate when you have 2-3 interviewers with very limited availability, go for a video call instead if it means you can expedite the process.

Provide personalised feedback:

For candidates who’ve been unsuccessful, provide a few dot-points of personalised feedback. They’ve likely invested a lot of time and energy into putting together an application and interviewing for the role. Particularly, any constructive criticism you’re able to provide so they nail their next interview! Also, this will pay dividends next time you go to market as reputation spreads quickly in a small market.

Expect counteroffers:

Although counteroffers are notoriously unsuccessful in fixing the problems that caused an employee to decide to move on and consequently job satisfaction, they are sometimes successful in keeping someone in a role. However, 80% of candidates who accept a counteroffer leave the organisation within 6 months.

To wrap up, spending a bit more time before going to market with a role to plan and develop a strategy is often a great investment in attracting the best talent in the market as well as improving your reputation as an employer. Retention is another challenge, although I’ll leave that for another day.

If you’re interested in discussing this further or have any questions, please feel free to reach out to the team.

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