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What we learnt in 2021

2021 has been another heck of a year for business owners and those in positions of responsibility that involve HR.

I heard an advert recently that was targeted at business owners which highlighted that you’ve supported your people, you’ve supported the business and, in order to innovate, you’ve worked harder than you probably ever thought you’d have to…. And I thought, ‘yeah! It’s been a lot this year!’

What I’m most proud of this year, and I think a few business owners I know might echo this, is my team. We were flung into isolation and working from home. My Auckland and Melbourne crew did it really tough…. but seeing our culture grow stronger through the wonderful initiatives of our social club was really heart-warming. Ironically, we were more connected during lockdown than ever before, with inventive new ways to come together!

I also love predictions and it was personally pleasing to see situations that I’ve been predicting for 3 years now come to life in 2021.

What I hadn’t predicted though, was that the lack of available talent would be such a major issue. Since the beginning of the year, HR managers and business owners across the board have been struggling to get applications. I had one client cancel expansion plans because they couldn’t find staff to man their newly opening stores!   This is a real and serious issue, driven by candidate uncertainty, risk aversion and border closures.

There are a few key ingredients that led to success for those who did manage to add to their teams:

  1. Good ad content – just copying and pasting details from your PD sets you up for failure. Ensuring you create a campaign that speaks to your demographic is key.
  2. Giving an easy call to action – today’s applicants don’t need email, fax, phone numbers, websites and career site details. To apply, they just need a phone number or a link to a careers site.
  3. Media placement – we are in a short skilled market so relying on job boards alone will not achieve results, we have been leveraging social and digital media to target passive audiences which have increased engagement and application numbers.
  4. Keeping your application process easy – don’t force candidates to log in and register their details and don’t expect them to address 20 questions – they won’t. The most successful recruitment campaigns made it quick and easy for candidates to apply.

A lot of advertisers changed tact based on our advice and removed as many barriers to application as possible, whilst also advertising in more innovative ways. Aside from simplifying application forms, another winning idea was a process that didn’t require a candidate to submit a CV. So many people this year wanted to ask questions before applying: Can I work from home? What’s the salary? Would you consider part-time hours?

Encouraging a conversation led to more employers giving candidates the option to request a call back for more information. This really helped in roles where people didn’t have resumes ready to go but were maybe interested in a job change. I had a client who needed to hire machine operators and assembly process workers using this approach via Facebook and TikTok – they received 60 expressions of interest!   

We are proud to be one of the first advertisers in New Zealand to use TikTok as part of a digital media package solution. It is awesome that people who had first tried a job board that didn’t work have been able to hire great people because of our ‘out of the box’ initiatives.

When it comes to new technology options, we also saw a national retail chain removing the need for a CV as part of the application and instead, having applicants submit a video cover letter that showcased their personality.

90% of the clients we work with have been open to using social media as a recruitment strategy and a side benefit is that we’ve increased engagement levels and foot traffic to their careers site. An example of this is a large not-for-profit with offices across NSW and ACT, who worked with us to create video and static campaigns on Facebook, TikTok and Google. Over the last 12 months, we’ve focussed on driving interest and leads to their careers page. As a result, we have been able to reduce their spend on job boards and still see increased application numbers!

So, there is no doubt businesses are changing their thinking around how to attract talent. They are looking for more than just a SEEK ad – they want a campaign that is creative, fun and makes an impact.  

What’s next?

If you’re hiring in early 2022, get onto it now. 

January is typically the busiest month of the year for resignations and, given the last 12 months, we expect this trend to hold. You need to get ahead, plan for longer advertising periods and be aware that the more diverse campaigns will be the ones that win.

If you’d like to chat about anything shown here, please feel free to reach out to me or the team. Otherwise, we wish all readers a great Christmas break and a profitable new year.  



Sharon Davies

Founding Director


What we learnt in 2021