January 21, 2014

Open Forum – How is the employment market changing in Australia?

Open Forum – How is the employment market changing in Australia?

Written by: Sue Ellson
Title: How is the employment market changing in Australia?
Date: 14 January 2014
Format: Article on the Open Forum Website
Publisher: Open Forum
Editor: Svetlana Stankovic
Online at: http://www.openforum.com.au/content/how-employment-market-changing-australia
Archive link: https://web.archive.org/web/20150407165011/http://www.openforum.com.au/content/how-employment-market-changing-australia
Published text: See transcript below
Copy of article as it appeared:



How is the employment market changing in Australia?

Competitiveness Performance Recruitment Social media Work / life balance Career building skills Workplace relations EMPLOYMENT HUMAN CAPITAL

There has been a multitude of changes in the Australian job market over the last 20 years. Sue Ellson shares her professional experience to remaining either employed or employable in the future.

It is hard to believe that I first became involved in recruitment in 1992 after completing the ‘Targeted Selection Workshop’ as an employee of Westpac Banking Corporation in Adelaide. Back then, we never advertised job vacancies as we received sufficient paper based applications from interested candidates for entry level positions. The best recruits, in terms of both performance and longevity, were friends or family members of existing staff.

As the Recruiting and Development Officer for South Australia and the Northern Territory, I conducted presentations at universities for the yearly graduate intake. We did not have emails, the internet, social media or mobile phones.

Fast forward to 2014 and the entire employment landscape has changed. Numbers vary, but on average you will often hear that 70% of jobs are never advertised and are in the hidden job market. I would like to suggest that up to 90% of jobs are no longer advertised.

Category specific websites for classified employment advertising have come and gone. The newspapers were slow to react to websites like http://www.seek.com.au and the huge American http://www.monster.com never quite established a presence here in Australia. More recently, http://www.mycareer.com.au started offering free online job advertisements. Several other employment only websites have closed. US based http://www.linkedin.com, started in May 2003, has grown to now serve over five million Australians.

The terminology used in the workplace has also changed. We have previously used the words staff, personnel, human resources and talent. We have dealt with the ‘skills shortage,’ the ‘war for talent’ and the ‘global financial crisis.’ There have been debates about unions, workers’ rights, enterprise agreements, fair work and more. We have seen massive changes in relation to equal employment opportunity, affirmative action, rights for people of all abilities, equity and access.

Now the studies are showing that although our overall lifestyle in Australia has improved (how many homes are full of electrical equipment, manufactured clothing and unseasonal fruit and vegetables?) the general mood of our current workforce is that it is ‘everyone for himself’ and that employers will do whatever it takes to pay less.

My teenage daughter was offered a ‘cash only’ job last week (I will also add that there would have been no public liability cover, superannuation etc). In the early 2000’s, I could easily secure training work for $1,000 per day, now, most similar contract positions are around $450 per day. A huge increase in technology has meant that many jobs have disappeared, been outsourced or sent offshore.

Adults desperate for any form of income are working for rates as low as $8 per hour (also cash). Many people unable to find regular full time employment are in their own business and self employed. If they calculated how many hours they spend in their business, both paid and unpaid, I suspect that they would find their average hourly rate is also extremely low.

Technology has enabled knowledge workers to diversify their portfolio of work, experience and opportunities. More than ever, full and part time employees are discovering side businesses in writing, blogging, coaching or consulting with the view that no job is entirely secure and it is always a good idea to have a backup plan.

So what can we learn from the multitude of changes in the last 20 years? What are the keys to remaining either employed or employable in the future?

  • develop your own network – friends, family, former colleagues and keep in touch
  • continually improve your skills – especially those related to technology
  • be aware of opportunities but don’t fall for the latest fad – be practical
  • learn how to manage your own career – do not expect your employer to develop you
  • act with abundance – a scarcity mentality does not work in our new society
  • share with others – life is enjoyed when we are either growing or sharing
  • keep records of everything you have done – more keywords you can use when required
  • realise that it is not the market or the government or anyone else who is responsible for your happiness or welfare – make an effort, be resilient and keep going in the face of adversity
  • despite how tempting it is, try and maintain the high moral ground – don’t accept cash, declare your income – those taxes help you enjoy your life in Australia – don’t short change others
  • be accountable, be responsible, show up – don’t spend your day browsing the internet or updating your social media – occasionally bring in some food to share with your workmates
  • create balance in your life – work can come and go but life goes on – so maintain your family and friend relationships, hobbies or interests and complete some voluntary work every year of your life
  • ask questions – keep up to date through education, a coach or mentor, publications, forums
  • remember that you are now part of the world, not just Australia – think and act globally for the greater good

In a practical sense, you should keep your resume up to date and ensure that when your name is typed in to Google, the content that appears is appropriate. Now may be the time to delete your online party photos. As so many recruiters and employers are using LinkedIn to find candidates, make sure that your profile is the best it could be.

If you are in the job market and are looking for ways to find work, consider:

  • deciding on both the type of work and employer you are seeking
  • sourcing a mentor in your chosen profession or industry and listening to their suggestions
  • contacting organisations directly rather than waiting for jobs to be advertised
  • try finding a job through a referral rather than direct contact
  • working on a voluntary basis rather than remain unemployed – it gets you out of the house
  • attending events, online seminars and courses to meet like-minded people
  • utilise resources like http://www.linkedin.com, http://www.cdaa.org.au, http://www.myfuture.edu.au and http://www.blueprint.edu.au
  • if English is not your first language, visit www.australianetwork.com/businessenglish/
  • contact everyone you know and update them on your situation asking for more information about the current market or people worth speaking to (not asking for a job)

Finally remember to keep smiling – it is the universal language across all cultures.

Sue Ellson BBus AIMM MAHRI is the Founder and Director of Newcomers Network, a socially responsible business providing information, events and advocacy for newcomers and networkers. With representatives in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth, Newcomers Network helps people live, work and network in their new location. Sue is also the Founder and Director of the Global Mobility Network, an international portal of information, links and resources for Global Mobility Professionals, the Camberwell Network for people who live, work or network in Camberwell, the Convenor of the International Human Resources Network Victoria for the Australian Human Resources Institute and a regular feature writer for various publications. Connect directly to Sue via LinkedIn.