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2024 insights: Competitive recruitment in a shifting economy

With the Australian End of Financial Year (EOFY) approaching, this is traditionally a busy time for most businesses. Whether you are gearing up for EOFY or using it as a time to review budgets and plan for the second half of the year, an update on the recruitment market can be a helpful insight.

The market in 2024 has been interesting, to say the least. Whilst clients are being mindful when hiring, the need for talent is still high, and the fight for the best talent on the market remains as competitive as ever.

Below is an update of what we have seen in the year so far:

The Economy 2024

As of May 2024, the unemployment rate is sitting at 4%, up from 3.5% in November 23. There are 388,800 job vacancies in Australia with Cairns, Gold Coast, Canberra and Melbourne with the most job opportunities nationally.

(All figures are from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.)

Due to high inflation, there has been an increased focus on cost reduction meaning fewer vacancies due to organic growth. However, we are also seeing higher volumes of contract roles available due to headcount restrictions and a need to engage more instant support. Contracting support remains desirable as it offers the client the ability to hire people as and when needed, without having to add them as a permanent employee to payroll.

For more information on the benefits of hiring contractors, read this article "The Top 7 Benefits of Hiring Contractors".

Green box with quote "As of May 2024, unemployment rate is sitting at 4%, up from 3.5% in November 23."

The Job Market

Although flexibility in being able to work some days from home is still high on a candidate's wish list there seems to be a bigger push to get employees back to the office, with some clients looking to return for 5 days per week – Be aware, as in a market whereby great talent is hard to come by, enforcing the 5 days might mean you miss out, or even worse, lose your best talent.

Culture and career progression are now higher up on the list of must-haves and can be even more important to most than salary.

With the fight for the best talent being as competitive as ever, businesses are trying to be innovative to win the top calibre candidates. A focus on Employee Value Proposition (EVP) is still very high with an increased awareness around psychological safety and professional development.

We are still seeing quite big salary jumps in difficult to source roles, and salary will always remain a factor however offering clarity around career progression and development is higher on the list for most candidates.

To secure the best, an efficient and seamless process pays dividends. The soft skills needed to move the hiring process along whilst being able to build a relationship with the candidate, “sell” the role and the company, and manage the expectations of all parties involved including giving detailed and constructive feedback where necessary is essential.

Technology and AI

AI is continuing to seek new heights in all areas of hiring. The main concerns are algorithm bias and security breaches, however, we are hearing from candidates and clients alike that they are implementing and using new technology to make the hiring processes more efficient. Whilst nothing compares to the real thing, the use of AI and machine learning tools is here to stay and we must embrace and adapt to it.

Grey box with quote "Culture and career progression are now higher up on the list of must-haves and can be even more important to most than salary."


In summary, we are seeing every role that is vacant will be filled, however, clients are assessing the need in detail before the hiring process begins. Contracting demands have risen due to the ability to scale teams quickly when needed and for the period required.

Whilst clients are being more mindful when going out to market with a role, we are also seeing candidates being more selective. The whole package including company EVP, career progression and culture are assessed, along with salary and flexibility. It is becoming increasingly important to know how to “sell” the job and company throughout the interview process in order to secure the best talent on the market.

If you would like any more information on the above, please contact our team of consultants.

Author Kylie Blackwell, Director of Ambition Melbourne, has recruited in the Australian job market for 22 years, predominantly recruiting senior finance executives into the commercial industry and leading large teams across multiple disciplines.

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