What do job applicants in Australia think of the recruitment process?

Published on 25/10/2022 by Andrew Blair

With the job market in Australia booming, we asked over 500 employees how they found the candidate experience and what they look for when searching for a job.

A candidate’s experience in recruitment 

The Great Resignation (or, perhaps, ‘Great Reflection’) describes the current trend of employees leaving their jobs, largely triggered by changes to work during the COVID-19 pandemic. To find out how this trend affects the recruitment process for small to midsize enterprise (SMEs) in Australia, we surveyed over 500 people who work at these companies and have been through the hiring process in the past year. We also explore how HR software and recruitment software can help SMEs meet candidates’ needs.

This article contains additional data points from a parallel survey of HR professionals at Australian SMEs exploring similar topics. You can find a full methodology for both surveys at the bottom of the article.

How active is the recruitment market in Australia?

The job market in Australia appears to be both active and competitive for candidates. When we surveyed HR professionals in Australia, 91% said that they believed there was a labour shortage, and this theory is further supported by data from job applicants. 

Of the candidates we spoke to, 62% had been through more than one recruitment process in the 12 months prior to September 2022, while 38% just went through one process. Of those who went for just one role, 93% were offered a job, and of those who went for multiple roles, 49% were offered one job and a further 40% were offered more than one.

This indicates a significant desire among companies to fill their vacancies and suggests that candidates are currently in a strong position to seek out the role that best suits them. Just under one-quarter (24%) of those who received offers after going through multiple recruiting processes, and 13% of those who had an offer after just one, said they turned the roles down, further reinforcing the idea that the current job market favours candidates over employers.

What do candidates in Australia look for in a job?

We asked respondents in our survey to select up to three factors they look for in a new job. The two factors selected by a majority were flexible working hours, chosen by 61%, and growth opportunities, chosen by 52%. Competitive compensation came next at 41%, closely followed by company culture with 39%.

Bar chart showing what job seekers want when applying for a job

This data from candidates broadly reflects what we heard from HR professionals in our parallel survey. They thought that flexible working hours were most important to candidates (35%) ahead of competitive compensation (34%) and skills development (34%).

The fact that flexibility is so important in today’s job market further suggests that changes to working practices during the COVID-19 pandemic have caused employees to reassess their work-life balance and seek new roles — not necessarily for a better salary, but for more autonomy over how they spend their time.

However, when we asked those who accepted job offers about their main motivation for taking the role, the most common reason was salary. 33% cited this, ahead of the position itself (21%) and flexible working hours (15%). Similarly, the most common reason for not accepting an offer was overwhelmingly salary, given by 42% of respondents who rejected offers in their job search. The next was a counter-offer from their current company (15%), proving that compensation is still a major consideration.

Main reasons candidates accept or don’t accept a job offer

Candidates are not shy to discuss salary, either. Nearly two-thirds (64%) say they are comfortable bringing up the topic in their first interview. SMEs that are looking to recruit may want to consider this information throughout the process. The factors that attract candidates to a role do not carry the same weight as decisive factors when candidates are looking to accept a role.

What do candidates think of online recruitment?

When we asked HR professionals in Australia about the primary online platform they use for job postings, the most popular was LinkedIn. This was also the number-one choice for HR professionals globally.

However, in almost every country we surveyed, candidates tend to look on Indeed first. In Australia, the difference is stark: only 0.3% of HR professionals say that Indeed is their primary online platform for recruitment, whereas more than two-thirds of candidates (67%) cite it as one of their top three places to look for a job. 

Bar chart showing candidate application methods for jobs

Because the pandemic forced many aspects of work to become remote, the recruitment experience has also been digitised to some degree. Candidates broadly feel comfortable with some of the practices that might be common in this digital process, such as automated interviews via video and having the interview recorded. They are also comfortable with taking a test and sharing personal information with recruiters —steps that were done on paper for decades, but which are now more commonly done online.

Multi-stacked bar graph showing candidates level of comfort in various recruitment practices

There is a slight reluctance among candidates towards automated recruitment—just over half felt uncomfortable about it. SMEs should bear this in mind when they are looking for new hires and consider the points in the final section of this article about how to make the recruitment process smooth and easy for candidates.

1 in 4 candidates experienced discrimination in the recruitment process

25% of all the candidates we surveyed said they have experienced discrimination during the recruitment process. This can take many forms: the most commonly encountered types in our survey were based on age (reported by 41% of those who had experienced discrimination) gender (37%), and appearance (27%).

Bar chart showing types of discrmination job candidates have experienced

When individuals in our survey experienced discrimination, they tended to respond actively rather than passively. Half of this group said that they withdrew from the recruitment process as a result, and one-quartner reported the discrimination to the company in question. A similar number (22%) shared their experience on social media or other online portals, and 14% told their personal connections about it. Only 17% said that they did nothing after experiencing discrimination in the recruitment process.

Did you know? In the context of employment, it is against the law in Australia to discriminate based on certain protected attributes, including:

– Age
– Disability
– Race
– Sex
– Intersex status
– Gender identity
– Sexual orientation

SMEs can help ensure their recruitment and employment practices are compliant with the help of recruitment software and HR software. Modern recruitment tools allow SMEs to aggregate data during the interview process and make fair comparisons based on interviewee performance rather than their background. HR software often includes features to help employers meet local regulations, even for employees based in other jurisdictions.

HR and recruitment software can also streamline, automate, and simplify the day-to-day tasks of recruiting and managing people. They are especially useful additions to the toolkit of SMEs, which may not have experienced HR professionals to look after the workforce and its diverse needs.

Candidates offer five tips for a smooth recruitment process

In 95% of cases, the recruitment process from first interview to offer took less than 5 weeks. Most (59%) of the time, respondents said it generally takes between 1 and 3 weeks. When asked what makes for a smooth and easy recruitment process, candidates tended towards five factors.

Bar chart showing best practices in the recruitment process

Companies that are recruiting, HR professionals, and recruitment specialists should take these into account as basic good practices when looking to fill roles. Transparency, simplicity, and communication shine through as consistent themes that candidates value.

Did you know? Some recruitment software includes features such as email integration and templates, communications management, and candidate tracking— all of which help hiring companies to communicate clearly and transparently. Many tools also include a self-service portal so that candidates can check the status of their application.

Job board software is another way SMEs might consider improving their communication with candidates. It helps advertise open positions internally and externally and often includes features for job posting, pipeline management, social media integration, email management, and alerts.

The fact that salary transparency came out on top, even though candidates don’t value compensation as highly as other factors when looking for a job, is interesting. It suggests that the ultimate salary package is less important than being paid fairly in line with others in the organisation and with similar positions elsewhere.

In summary

  • Although salary is not the most important factor for candidates when looking for a job, it is a critical factor when deciding whether or not to accept one.
  • The job market is buoyant— around 9 in 10 candidates who went through the recruitment process in the past 12 months ended up with at least one job offer.
  • Despite laws against it, candidates report widespread discrimination during recruitment in Australia and will take action if they see it.
  • Candidates say that transparency, user-friendliness, and good feedback make for a smooth and easy recruitment process.
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HR professionals survey:

To collect this data, we conducted an online survey in September 2022 in the following countries: Australia (312), Brazil (306), Germany (293), France (286), and the UK (286). The 1,483 candidates had to fulfil the following criteria:

  • Full or part-time HR employees (CHRO, vice president of HR, HR director, HR manager, HR manager, HR generalist, HR associate, or HR specialist) who are involved in tasks related to recruiting people for their companies
  • Work for companies with more than two employees and less than 250
  • Above the age of 18

Candidate survey:

To collect this data, an online survey was conducted in Australia and in September 2022. The 523 candidates that took part in the survey had been through a recruitment process in the last year and had to fulfil the following criteria:

  • Aged between 18 and 65 years old
  • Employed full or part-time
  • Employed in a company that has more than 1 employee and no more than 250

NOTE: The applications mentioned in this article are examples to show a feature in context and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations. They have been obtained from sources to be reliable at the time of publication.

This article may refer to products, programs or services that are not available in your country, or that may be restricted under the laws or regulations of your country. We suggest that you consult the software provider directly for information regarding product availability and compliance with local laws.

About the author

Andrew is a Content Analyst for Software Advice, giving SMEs insights into tech, software and business trends. Interest in entrepreneurship, furthering projects and startups.

Andrew is a Content Analyst for Software Advice, giving SMEs insights into tech, software and business trends. Interest in entrepreneurship, furthering projects and startups.