Apr 09, 2021

We’re seeing an overall drop in application numbers around Australia. What’s going on?

Speak to a business owner or hiring manager in almost any category across Australia right now and you will hear a common refrain: “We just can’t get staff!”

Speak to a business owner or hiring manager in almost any category across Australia right now and you will hear a common refrain: “We just can’t get staff!”  Beyond the high profile issues with lack of fruit pickers and hospitality staff, there are employers desperate for quality applications in not only typically hard to fill roles such as trades, aged care and community service, but now white collar roles too, from finance through to administration.   

Here at Talent Propeller, we are on the coal face when it comes to fluctuations in jobs vs job seekers and can tell you, employers’ frustration in the current market is backed by statistics. Despite an unemployment rate officially at 6.5%, in January 2020, we received 12,500 applications, compared to January 2021 when we received only 6500 applications. It’s not that the number of job adverts was down by 50%,(they weren’t),  it’s that people are just not applying for jobs like they were a year ago.  Job board Seek have stated in an email sent to customers this week, that they too have seen a 15% drop in applications.

This seems incongruent, at a time when we’re told COVID has caused thousands of job losses and people are desperate for work. So, what’s going on?

We believe there are a number of factors. Job Seeker - yes; many lower level roles are seeing dwindling applications attributed directly to this supplement.  Immigration is another factor – like it or not, foreign students and working holiday makers do a lot of work in many sectors. The net result of overseas arrivals and departures was the first negative net migration for Australia since the June quarter of 1993 and the slowing of skilled migration/spousal visa is also have a marked effect on talent pools.

Applications for part time school hours roles that a year ago would have been highly sought after, are not getting the same application numbers.  One theory is that parents, wary of a return to home schooling, are delaying their return to the workforce.

Importantly though, what we’re seeing is a dramatic drop in people changing jobs. Whereas ‘seeking a new challenge’ was a driving force a year ago, candidate pools now are dominated by applicants not currently working in their chosen field. 

Whether this changes when Job Keeper finishes in March remains to be seen.  But we believe ‘I’ll just sit tight where I am’ mentality is a major factor inhibiting employers, innovation and growth.

So if you’re an employer, what can you do about it?

Spend your advertising dollar in brand campaigns with a long term view

Building your employer brand is an alternative to constantly re-advertising a vacancy.  If you need an ongoing supply of similar skills, consider investing in strategies to build your profile in the long term with your target candidates.  This could involve social media content, Employer of Choice Awards, an advertising campaign.