Job ads have hit a record high, but businesses are struggling to fill vacancies


The combination of closed international borders and a domestic economy that is bouncing back from the pandemic is having a surprising effect on employment trends.

Fresh data from SEEK has revealed that the highest number of job ads were posted on the employment marketplace in March compared to any other month in its entire 23-year history.

However, despite the boom in demand for workers, recruiters are having trouble finding the right candidate for a job.

On average, applications per job ad are at their lowest level since 2012.

A not-so-global talent pool

Kendra Banks, managing director at SEEK ANZ, said there were many reasons contributing to this decline, such as a reduced labour supply from overseas impacting the ability to fill roles.

“Workers [are] displaying a more cautious approach to career moves following a turbulent year, and with more jobs available, there is a knock-on effect to the number of applications per job ad posted,” she said.

Despite the low number of applications per job, Banks said the change in current labour market conditions compared to 12 months ago “is nothing short of remarkable”.

Demand for multidisciplinary skills

Stella Petrou Concha, chief executive and co-founder of Reo Group, a talent search agency specialising in accounting, finance, business services and technology, says every industry affected by the pandemic has lost talent and is finding it difficult to fill vacancies.

“For example, it’s very hard to find chefs now, as chefs have repurposed themselves out of the hospitality sector, as they see survival as an issue,” Concha says.

With businesses vying for talent, Concha says well-resourced companies are now looking for candidates with “cross-functional and multidisciplinary skills”.

A resulting trend, she says, is that there is greater need for individuals to go back to business school and re-educate themselves in a variety of specialisations.

Concha says companies are preferring expertise in creative intelligence, design thinking and coalition management over traditional management and leadership skills.

“Companies are asking talent to step up their capabilities in a wider and more cross-functional skill set so they can navigate this new landscape,” she says.

The latest SEEK Employment Report shows an increase of 75.1% in national jobs advertised compared to March 2020, when the fallout of COVID-19 first impacted the labour market.

Unsurprisingly, the unemployment rate has continued to decline as pandemic restrictions have eased in Australia, with unemployment falling by 0.2 percentage points to 5.6% in March.

The number of Australians employed increased by more than 70,000 between February and March, reaching 13,077,600, according to data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Thursday.


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