Recruitment methods

Employers use a wide range of methods to recruit the workers they need. The National Skills Commission’s Recruitment Experiences and Outlook Survey provides valuable insights into those methods.

How employers recruit

Advertising on online job boards or recruitment websites is the most common method of finding staff. More than half of recruiting employers (56%) used this method in 2021. Jobs boards and recruitment sites are popular as they can connect large groups of users. This allows job seekers to access the substantial number of vacancies advertised while employers can use these sites to attract a large pool of potential candidates.

Around one third of recruiting employers (32%) used word-of-mouth to promote their positions in 2021. Some employers approach people directly about job opportunities, while others ask existing employees, friends, or family members if they know anyone who may be interested in the position.

Social media was used by 24% of recruiting employers in 2021, up from 19% in 2020. This continues a trend of increasing social media usage over recent years. A large part of social media recruitment is conducted through region-based or industry-based Facebook ‘job groups’, which are an inexpensive way for employers to post vacancies and allow interaction between employers and local job seekers.

The use of newspapers for recruitment was used by only 4% of employers in 2021, unchanged from 2020. However, previous employer surveys suggest usage has declined significantly in recent years. For many employers, online job boards and social media sites have replaced the use of newspapers as the most effective way to reach job seekers in the local community.

Figure 1: Recruitment methods used by employers (2021)

Recruitment practices differ between city, regional and remote areas

Recruitment methods differ significantly by the location of the employer.

In Australia’s major cities, 61% of recruiting employers used job boards and recruitment websites in 2021, far more than in regional or remote areas, where usage sits at just under half of recruiting employers.

The use of word-of-mouth and social media increases with remoteness; employers in remote and very remote areas use word-of-mouth (47%) and social media (43%) far more often than employers in major cities (29% and 18% respectively).

Figure 2: Recruitment methods – by ARIA region type (2021)

Recruitment practices differ by the skill level of the vacancy

Recruitment methods also change depending on the level of skill required for the advertised job.

For Skill Level 5 vacancies (which require limited to no post-school qualifications), advertising on recruitment websites and job boards is common (41%), but less so compared with other skill levels. Word-of-mouth (35%) and social media (23%) are the next most significant, while advertising on the employer's company website (16%), placing a sign in a shop window (12%), or considering job seekers who approach the business looking for work (12%) are used more often for Skill Level 5 vacancies than for other skill levels.

Word-of-mouth is used by around a third of employers recruiting for Skill Level 3 (certificate III or IV) or Skill Level 4 (certificate II or III) vacancies, but used by only a quarter of employers recruiting Skill Level 1 (a bachelor’s degree or higher) or Skill Level 2 (diploma or advanced diploma) vacancies.

Social media is most common for Skill Level 3 vacancies (31%), followed by recruitment for Skill Level 4 (25%).

Figure 3: Recruitment methods - by Skill Level of the vacancy (2021)

Recruiting without advertising

The NSC defines recruiting employers as ‘not advertising’ if they only use word-of-mouth and/or consider job seekers who approached the business directly.

The data about these employers have some important implications for job seekers looking to maximise their job opportunities: that developing and maintaining social connections is beneficial to the job-search process, and being proactive by calling or approaching employers for work is likely to help in finding vacancies that aren’t advertised.

In 2021, around one in five recruiting employers (18%) did not advertise their most recent vacancies. As shown in the chart below, this was most common in the Retail Trade (24%), Manufacturing (23%), Construction (22%) and Rental, Hiring and Real Estate Services (21%) industries.

Figure 4: Employers that didn’t advertise – by selected industries (2021)

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