The recruitment industry in Australia just like any other has seen its fair share of changes, which for the most part continue to reflect the evolving business and candidate markets. Here is a snapshot of the trends we’re seeing in executive recruitment that are directly impacting the way we engage with our clients, candidates and industry colleagues.

Shift to borderless recruiting 

Recruitment naturally mirrors the needs of business.  This has translated into a growing demand for a ‘whole of market’ approach to recruiting. The expectation of Australian business is that recruiting the best talent can only be achieved by a whole of market specialisation approach to recruitment, rather than a geographical, state by state approach.

Combined, Sydney and Melbourne account for approximately 75 percent of total recruitment market in Australia.  If you consider these markets separately, you’re fishing in a very narrow candidate pool.  Showing a list of potential candidates from one state to a client, for example, doesn’t necessarily lead to the best outcome for the client.  When you consider these markets as one, it’s an altogether more compelling proposition with a talent market that’s equivalent to the Tri-State Area New York or South East UK (Greater London).

Increased executive mobility is also supporting this ‘whole of market’ approach to recruitment.  Executive candidates are increasingly willing to move or commute for the right role with many opportunities requiring executives to split their time between the two cities.

Cross-sector movement

Australian businesses looking at every aspect of their operations to gain competitive advantage are actively pursuing talent beyond their sector and industry.

Recruiters are not only expected to be able to support a specialist talent brief, but also go beyond that sector, industry and location to source talent for a role. For recruitment agencies that specialise in a number of disciplines, the role of internal talent teams that work across sectors and disciplines to identify talent will become increasingly important.

But it’s not only businesses that are wanting recruiters to challenge the status quo.  Candidates too are seeking opportunities to get a foot in the door of other sectors.  We are seeing cross-sector pollination of talent particularly in the financial services sector where candidates with a background in FMCG are highly sought after for their customer centric expertise.

A return to local

In a world where everything is going global, we’re seeing a return to local.  The emphasis for recruiters is two-fold.

Firstly, businesses are seeking out local specialist knowledge, which is giving recruiters with local domain expertise an edge over their generalist counterparts.

Secondly, recruiters with an empowered local leadership are better able to support the talent needs of local business communities.  An ability to make decisions on the ground and on the go for the local market, even if at odds with a global or regional mandate, are best placed to take advantage of market opportunities.

Growing focus on the SME

The government’s continued focus on the SME market is a real opportunity for the recruitment sector, particularly executive recruitment in the SME space.

Supporting the SME market however can only come from having a strong depth of local expertise and specialisation, and for those who do, some of the best assignments in 2016-17 will fall into this category.

The government’s efforts to foster an entrepreneurial spirit in Australian business is resulting in an expansion of SME opportunities for executives, particularly in the Sydney and Melbourne markets.

At the same time, what we’re seeing is a growth in senior candidates open to opportunities to be part of that growth story, considering roles that enable them to move into a MD or CEO position where they can roll up their sleeves and draw on their collective years of experience to grow a business from the ground up.

Technology enablement

Every business is reliant on technology, and that includes the recruitment sector. Technology that reduces time and cost to hire for businesses plays well to the volume end of the recruitment market, but at the high value, low volume end of the recruitment market, there’s no substitute for the ‘human factor’.

Best of breed executive recruiters are actively engaged on digital platforms but as a supporting tool rather than an end to end solution. In executive recruitment, human interaction remains key to determining a candidate’s ‘fit’ for an organisation, particularly when a growing number of organisations are considering a candidate’s cultural fit over technical capability for roles.

More than about the money

Although remuneration is important, remuneration alone won’t secure the commitment of Australia’s best recruiting talent. Life’s too short for poor career choices.

For most, it’s the EVP as a whole.  It’s about the company culture, opportunities for career progression, learning and development programs and flexible working arrangements as well as remuneration.  And when it comes to remuneration, the package is important, as is a transparent incentive model. For the more entrepreneurial recruiter, an equity stake in the business can also be an appealing proposition.

Those recruiters that are flexible to the needs of clients, candidates, and colleagues stand to benefit the most from continued change in the industry.


What trends are you seeing influence the recruitment industry in Australia? Join the conversation on LinkedIn.