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Business must do more to attract qualified employees

The search to employ high quality people is getting harder according to new research showing applicants are more likely to knock back job offers than in the past.

In a survey of 100 Human Resource executives, nearly four in ten (36 per cent) said applicants were more likely to turn down new employment opportunities than they were three years ago.

The results, released by recruitment firm Robert Half, also show that 83 per cent of HR executives surveyed said they were concerned about losing their best employees.

Andrew Brushfield, Director at Robert Half, said the results suggested that recruitment was no longer a “one-sided process” in which the hiring manager called the shots. He said the states leading the trend were Queensland and New South Wales.

“NSW has gone from a really tough market to a market where candidates are having far more choice,” he told Dynamic Business.  “The economy in NSW is coming alive again. It’s sort of improving – that’s after three or four tough years. So that has an impact, consumer confidence is an amazing thing for the employment market.”

Mr Brushfield said employers needed to “lead with their ace” and could not afford to be complacent with their recruitment strategy. He suggested candidates should meet their hiring manager in the first meeting and emphasised the importance of offering appropriate remuneration.

“It is important for employers to have a strong understanding of current market salaries in their industry, and in particular, for highly-sought after skills. Failing to offer appropriate remuneration can cost a business dearly, both in terms of lost talent plus wasted time and resources during the recruitment process”.

According to the survey, 29 per cent of HR executives said the most common reason a candidate turned down a job was because of a competing employment offer while 21 per cent said insufficient remuneration was the key problem.

Increasingly workers are being presented with other methods of obtaining work with many businesses now exploring alternative methods of hiring people, including the outsourcing of work to freelancers over the internet.

Elance-oDesk is an online “work market place” that helps connect businesses with freelancers across the globe and which was launched in Australia on May 1.

The newly created company is the result of a merger between Odesk and Elance at the end of March, although both platforms will still operate as separate sites.

Kyri Theos, the Australian country manager, told Dynamic Business that Australian businesses had employed more than 84,000 people using the Odesk and Elance platforms.

“It’s (Australia) our second largest market globally and there are 161,000 Australian business registered on the platform and that represents 8 per cent of all business across the country if you look at ABS data,” Mr Theos said.

“The freelancer forms an independent relationship with the client businesses. We are the facilitator… We form the connection between the freelancer and the business… As a business you only pay once you’ve seen and approved the work.”

Mr Theos said the employment model offered on online platforms like Elance-oDesk had benefits for business because they provided access to both local and international workers at competitive prices.

“For startups, as a small business and even as a large business, you are able to scale up and scale down very quickly and efficiently so when the market changes, when you need to change your marketing strategy… you can do that very quickly.”

Mr Brushfield said that online portals had been around for a while in the recruitment industry and were a natural extension of where the market had been going anyway.

However, he said the need for recruitment firms would remain and that predictions the rise of job sourcing websites like Seek would toll the doom of the recruitment industry had been proved wrong.

“What ended up happening is that the recruitment firms were their major customer,” he said. “There always seems to be a need for human interaction.”

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Joe Kelly

Joe Kelly

Joe Kelly is a writer for Dynamic Business. He has previously worked in the Canberra Press Gallery and has a keen interest in business, the economy and federal policy. He also follows international relations and likes to read history.

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