Speed, strategy and counter-offers: how to navigate an ‘intense’ job market Image

Speed, strategy and counter-offers: how to navigate an ‘intense’ job market

  • Published 19 Jul 2021
  • By Claire

An unusually buoyant job market has seen recruitment processes moving very fast, and candidates receiving multiple offers within a short time. Here we discuss how both employers and candidates can navigate this situation.

Recently, we had a candidate who was looking for a new role in operations at an investment management company. They ended up receiving five offers within four days. Eventually, they accepted one, which gave them a more senior job title and an extra $20k in salary.

Around the same time, an admin candidate, also in investment management, received an offer within three days, and also had another four offers for interviews lined up.

Normally, we would have viewed these as extraordinary events. However, these kinds of situations are standard now. In our more than 10 years of operation as a boutique financial services recruiter, we’ve never seen a job market like this one.

Counter offers, the norm in an intense market

The Australian job market in 2021 is abounding in opportunities, from graduates through to mid-level seniority, but especially in the sub-$100k salary bracket. This has created an intensity in the hiring process which has seen employers moving faster than ever, with candidates receiving multiple offers at once, and employers making counter offers of up to a 25% increase in salary to retain.

The exact reasons for this boom are difficult to trace, but it may be partially linked to the pandemic curbing our ability to hire from overseas for difficult-to-fill roles. Plus, some firms put hiring freezes on last year during the initial uncertainty of the pandemic and have now ramped up their recruitment efforts to compensate. This is backed up by broader economic trends – the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)’s jobs data from May 2021 found unemployment rate had fallen to 5.1%, back to the same level as February 2020 (before pandemic lockdowns began). At the same time, there was a ‘strong increase’ in job vacancies, the ABS said.

With the situation likely to set in, at least for the remainder of 2021, this job market is creating a number of challenges for employers and candidates alike.

Employers need to be strategic in securing talent

Employers are finding it hard to secure the best talent as good candidates get picked up almost straight away.

To counter this, it’s important to move fast when making offers, as you can be assured your competitors are doing the same. If you take two weeks to make a decision, then the best candidates will almost certainly have moved on.

Be prepared for counter-offers, thinking about how much extra pay you’re willing to offer to entice people across, as well as what else you can offer by way of benefits. According to the AFR BOSS Best Places to Work list, benefits offered by the most desirable workplaces include flexibility, extra leave, mental health support and a ‘work from anywhere’ policy.

Employers also need to keep an open mind on experience, perhaps considering someone with less years under their belt, or who has developed skills in a complementary role.

Refining recruitment processes is a must

In a recent AFR article, the Australian managing director of online job website Seek said they listed 220,000 jobs in April, the highest in the platform’s history. However, at the same time, the number of applications per ad were at their lowest since 2012.

So, with online job ads at a high and applications at a low, it’s important for employers to look at whether hiring processes can be refined, particularly if you’re using general procedures that have been in place for some time, or which have been adapted from international offices. Advertising a job may not be enough. Instead, take advice from an experienced recruiter on how to hire on a role-by-role basis, remembering that different roles might need different approaches.

To get the best out of your search, find a recruiter who you are comfortable with, who can prove that they know and understand your business and who you can trust to deliver on expectations. Building this relationship will contribute to creating a more seamless and efficient process and will ensure that your role is a priority across a potentially very busy pipeline. 

What’s a candidate to do?

For candidates, the market is so buoyant that if you have stable experience and a good education, you can expect multiple opportunities. Does this mean it’s easy for candidates? Not at all, because making an informed decision regarding a career move can be very difficult.

Sometimes, it can be tempting to go for a job out of curiosity or because you feel flattered by their interest, especially when someone reaches out to you based on your credentials. However, in this market – where you are likely to receive an offer – think carefully about whether moving on is what you really wish to do. 

It’s never advisable to take a role you don’t really want, so if you’re not committed to taking a job then be honest and don’t proceed with the interview process. The market is small and you run the risk of burning bridges.

If you do decide you want to move on, then head into the process with a clear expectation of what you want from your next role. Remember the process will move fast once you start! Do you want more responsibility? A more senior title? Or is it more about the monetary incentive? Have this clear before you start your job search, so if multiple offers do come flooding in, you can use them to your best advantage.

As the Australian job market in 2021 continues to thrive, both employers and candidates alike must adapt their processes and be ready to make the most of opportunities as they come along.

Are you an employer looking for a knowledgeable boutique recruiter who can get you the best candidates in a competitive market? Or a good candidate looking for a new job and want an agency that treats you like an individual? Contact us for a chat today or check out our latest job postings.

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