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Why a Flooded Job Market Makes it Harder to Find the Right Candidate 

Over the past three weeks, 780,000 roles in Australia have been lost. 

It’s shocking to see not just the scale of layoffs, but the way they have affected all levels of seniority. Everyone from newbie Account Coordinators fresh out of Uni through to experienced GM’s who were planning on spending the next 10 years or even the rest of their careers with a company are now looking for work elsewhere. 

If you happen to be an employer on the lookout for a candidate, this would appear to be a silver lining. For the first time in a long time, the job market is flooded with highly skilled, experienced individuals, many of whom are willing to be flexible when it comes to salary, job perks, hours and commuting. Finding the right candidate for the role in a market like this should be like shooting fish a barrel right? Wrong. 

In my experience, it’s actually harder to find what you’re looking for in a busy job market and if you don’t go about the recruitment process strategically, it can also be an extremely expensive, stressful, time-consuming and fruitless endeavour. I thought I’d discuss the key issues employers come up against when they attempt to recruit in a crowded market and my advice on how to effectively navigate them. 

You will get a flood of desperate candidates who don’t have the right skillset 

Yes, there are some genuinely skilled and experienced candidates seeking jobs right now, but there are also a lot of people who like the idea of your industry/feel there might be better opportunities in your industry/feel self-isolation is the ideal time for a career pivot. In other words, there are a lot of people out there who don’t have the right credentials but will apply for the role anyway and cross their fingers!

Managing the situation

Job posting platforms with filtering capabilities are your best bet when you have a high volume of applicants and need to narrow down the field. Purpose-built sites like Seek and LinkedIn Recruiter can filter out applicants based on factors such as their experience level, skill set, location and credentials. However, if you are seeking a niche skill (i.e 2+ years agency experience with activations in the automotive industry) there’s a good chance that the platforms won’t be able to filter for that. 

You have to deal with a lot of unprofessionalism – beware 

When people are desperate, their sense of proportion goes out of the window. As a Recruiter, I’ve had numerous experiences recently with job seekers who become aggressive and remain persistent (and have shown up at my office, unannounced) even after I have explained why they are unsuitable for the job. 

Managing the situation: Dealing with emotional or aggressive candidates is simply a factor of life when you manage your own recruitment. My advice would be to treat all applicants with kindness, patience and compassion. This can be a time-consuming approach, but it’s an important part of any recruitment process and it’s more important than ever right now when many people are in precarious financial positions and worried about their futures. 

With all those candidates, you may miss the white lies 

White lies and CVs go together like wine and cheese. Many candidates give in to the temptation to ‘streamline’ their CVs by doing things like padding out their dates of employment by a few months, or erasing evidence of role progression during their time at an organisation in favour of keeping just their most senior title (i.e. maybe they went from Account Coordinator to Manager during their 12 months of employment, but decided to only list the Account Manager title and imply that they were employed at that level the entire time). Other classic white lies include laying claim to skills that others in their team might have had, but they don’t (i.e. claiming to have paid search experience when they were a manager of a marketing team), or simply listing specialities that they studied at university but lack any experience in.  

Managing the situation: To pick white up lies and outright lies, you need to go through a candidate’s CV with a fine-tooth comb and know how to look for signs that information has been doctored. If possible, you should also check a candidate’s CV against their LinkedIn profile to ensure that things line up. Again, this is a very time consuming exercise but necessary. 

…And the red flags 

Why am I so meticulous about weeding out a candidate who tells white lies? Well, in my experience, white lies are an enormous red flag which suggests other things are amiss. A candidate who tells lies on their CV is at best insecure about their skills and experience and at worst is trying to conceal a chequered or troubled work history. Being dishonest on a CV is also often a good indicator of the trustworthiness of an individual. If they’re willing to lie before they’ve even met you, what will happen when they get the job and have something to lose?

Another classic red flag that is often misinterpreted as a positive by employers are candidates who are willing to take a pay cut without a good reason (good reasons include: that there are other non-salary-related job perks, the opportunity to work with a dream client or the opportunity for career progression). In my experience, a candidate who is willing to devalue their skillset either lacks confidence in their abilities or doesn’t actually have the skillset in the first place. 

Manage the situation: Identifying red flags in a candidate really requires a mixture of close reading, critical thinking and experience. Take the time to parse a potential candidate’s CV carefully, check it against other sources if possible and at the end of the day, trust your gut. 

You will need to work out who is applying for a job, and who wants a career

When jobs are a scarcity, many candidates are willing to settle for a job that doesn’t quite align with their desired career trajectory for the sake of job security and a salary. This usually means that once the job market picks up, these candidates will immediately start looking for something better and the money you’ve invested in hiring and training them will go to waste. 

Manage the situation: Look logically at the candidate’s previous work history and certifications. If the role you are offering is a step down for them, or a step away from their core competencies, their reasons for applying should be worth further investigated at the interview stage. Be upfront with candidates about your concerns as early as possible, if you are honest and direct with them, they’re more likely to do the same. 

The bottom line? …stick with the experts 

A lot of the issues which employers come up against when they decide to take their recruitment in house can only be solved with time, attention to detail and a lot of experience parsing CVs. Like all good things, there are no shortcuts when it comes to finding the right candidate and if you want to do it properly (and save yourself both time and money in the long run) you hire an expert. That expert is me.