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Thursday January 24th 2019

Skilled workers still in short supply (news.com.au 5 Oct)

employment chart pic

The above graphic shows how Australia’s jobless rate compares with other developed countries. Graphic: Eric Auld.

BOSSES are still struggling to find top-quality candidates despite mass job cuts, leading recruitment experts say.

The number of skilled applicants is at record lows despite 30,800 full-time jobs being axed in August, pushing the overall number of unemployed Australians to 663,600.

Hudson recruitment’s Scott Stacey said it was a myth that the skills shortage ended with the global financial crisis and that employers were now awash with good talent.

“The reality is it’s still tougher than ever,” he said.

Mr Stacey said the problem was due to skilled candidates staying in their jobs and not venturing out to seek other opportunities like they were before the global financial crisis.

“People are also too nervous to leave their jobs to improve their skills, so talent is becoming stagnant,” he said.

“As soon as you get into the more skilled roles like engineers, marketers and even sales, it’s proving a nightmare to find good talent that will stick around.”

Kelly Services recruitment consultant Neil Ludwig said tighter budgets had resulted in employers turning away candidates that didn’t meet 90-95 per cent of their job criteria.

“Previously this was around the 75 per cent mark but big companies are now demanding a lot more for their buck. They want top skills and that’s still proving hard to find,” he said.

“It’s certainly an employer’s market but when this turns around bosses could be faced with an even worse situation in regards to finding skilled candidates.”

The market is forecasting that the official unemployment rate will rise from 5.8 per cent to 6 per cent this Thursday, when the Australian Bureau of Statistics releases its Labour Force figures.

However, Westpac chief economist Bill Evans believes that the jobless rate will only reach 5.9 per cent with 5000 jobs lost from the economy.

The ANZ job advertisement series increased for a second straight month in September, the best sign yet stronger economic conditions were at last flowing through to the labour market.

But despite this being good news for job-seekers, Mr Stacey said skilled workers were still few and far between.

“Go back to college, do night school, either way take the opportunity while the market is slow to get ahead,” he said.

Preparation is the key

Career coach and radio host Annemarie Cross believed the real reason candidates were missing out on roles was due to a lack of preparation – particularly when it came to interviews.

“It’s far more competitive out in there than it was a couple of years ago. Employers are taking the time and selecting the crème of the crop,” she said.

“Job-seekers need to position their strengths and see themselves as a marketable entity.

“They need to be well-prepared and ensure their resumes are centred on achievements and successes so a potential employer can see everything they need at first glance.”

Ms Cross offered the following tips to stand out from the pack in an interview.

Research

“Bosses aren’t going to employ someone who has no interest in their company, and simply spending 5 or 10 minutes researching can make the world of difference,” Ms Cross said.

“You’d be surprised how many people don’t do this – and it’s the easiest step.”

Turn your mobile OFF

Unless it’s an emergency, Ms Cross said answering a mobile in an interview was one of the biggest mistakes job-seekers make.

“Turning the phone off completely is the best way to avoid a mishap.

“You need to make sure the person interviewing you has your full attention.”

Dress for the role

“Things that might be OK to wear in your spare time, more often than not are huge mistakes in the office,” Ms Cross said.

“You need to remember you’re representing an organisation.

“Mini skirts, dirty shirts, frayed clothing, bright colours and overly high-heels are to be avoided at all costs – at least in the initial interview.”

Rehearse

Although it might seem a bit weird Ms Cross said rehearsing your responses in front of the mirror was the best way to get comfortable with what you’re saying.

“Even role-playing the interview scenario with a friend can make you feel much more at ease,” she said.

“Remember you generally only get one shot to make a first impression.”

Ask questions

Recruiters often hate it when a candidate sits there and doesn’t have any questions to ask. It indicates you’re not really interested in the job, Ms Cross said.

“Show you’ve done your homework by asking questions about the work environment, the type of people you’ll be working with and what they might expect of you.”

The most important thing to remember is to not panic, according to Hudson’s Scott Stacey.

“Don’t be desperate – employers get scared off by that,” he said.

“I’ve been in the industry for more than 11 years. I’ve worked through several recessions and the reality is good, talented people will always find a job, no matter what the market.”

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lanai.vasek@news.com.au

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