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It's a candidate short market - how long can you last without staff?

I saw a job ad today and the whole thing was “I want, I want, I want”. From the first sentence to almost the last, the employer had created a 7-paragraph list of demands that a candidate needs to check off before deciding to apply. It made me wonder, just how long will he be waiting for his ‘dream’ candidate to appear? I’d suggest it will be quite some time.

Job mobility rates in Australia are at the lowest since 1972. This means people aren’t moving jobs if they don’t have to. Statistics from job board Indeed show that Australia right now has the strongest labour market that we’ve seen since the beginning of the global financial crisis. Almost every single occupation group has job postings that are above pre-pandemic levels. The unemployment rate fell to 4.9%, its lowest level since December 2010.


In other words, competition for staff is fierce. Competition for GOOD staff is even tougher.

Employers, we must wake up to the fact that we are in a candidate-driven labour market. Seven paragraphs of ‘you must have’ text in a job advert will not get us the results we are after. To hire quickly and painlessly, we must make a real effort to entice candidates, to sell our company and our vacancy. Otherwise, recruitment is going to be a tedious exercise that drags on. And no one wants that!   


Do you know what candidates are looking for?

Good candidates respond to job adverts that resonate with them. They want to know that they can do the daily tasks but, importantly, they also want to know what’s in it for them if they take this job. What are the benefits? Why do they want to work for YOU?

Of course, the ‘you must have’ criteria are important and it’s usually the first thing employers think of when they start constructing a job advert. But in today’s market, there are ways to present this information to ENTICE candidates who fit the bill, rather than repelling them.


For example:

“You must have excellent verbal communication skills” is a bland statement and 80% of adverts will say the same thing (by the way, I’ve never met a job applicant who thought they had bad communication skills). A better way of writing this explains the role and the skills needed in context.  

Try this: “As clients will rely on you to solve their complex problems quickly, you will need a clear and confident phone manner.” This sentence actually makes sense to a candidate as it explains what sort of communication they will be doing (and they can decide whether they enjoy that sort of work).


To be successful, you must have…

We’ve all seen those long lists of bullet points. This part of the advert is where your readers start to opt themselves out of applying, so be careful here. Women opt out more than men (and that’s proven by a study at Harvard), so be particularly careful with lists if you are advertising a role where you hope to attract female applicants.

We recommend no more than 5 bullet points; choose only the absolute deal-breakers such as essential licenses or qualifications. 


The longer your list of ‘must-haves’, the fewer applicants you will receive. 

Narrow criteria deter applicants, which is why in today’s candidate short market, we recommend smart employers consider where they can compromise and incorporate that into their adverts.  


Desirable but not essential.

Stating your ideal criteria is fine, but take some time to consider where you can consider applicants with a less than perfect background.


The following phrases help broaden the appeal of your advert and attract more applicants.

“If you have industry experience, that would be preferred but isn’t essential as we offer training.”

“A relevant qualification would be well regarded but isn’t essential if you can demonstrate you have the skills we need.”

“We welcome applications from candidates who are in the process of completing their license.”


When it comes to industry experience, think broadly about relevant backgrounds and help candidates to see how their skills might transfer. For example, instead of “You must have experience in the air conditioning industry”, try “Experience in the air conditioning industry will set you in good stead but we also welcome applicants who have worked for trade, building or construction-related companies.”


If you need help to get started, why not give our friendly team at Big Splash a call? We craft adverts that get results every day. We know what candidates want and can help you to deliver. Or, check out our resources page for more hints to DIY.


It's a candidate short market - how long can you last without staff?