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Recruiters turn to websites matching talent and employers

04 May 2013

The Australian

By Di van den Broek, Dimitria Groutsis and Will Harvey

The face of recruitment is changing, following a swing towards talent auction websites over traditional recruitment methods, write Di Van Den Broek, Dimitria Groutsis and Will Harvey in The Australian.

GLOBAL labour shortages have resulted in an auction-style recruitment war. Bidding is fast, furious and avoids endless CV culling and face-to-face interviews.

Recruiting talent can get desperate, and this kind of desperation has led to websites such as DeveloperAuction. Launched in April last year, it helps professionals gauge their market value based on employer bids.

Candidates register via social media and pay a fee while the site charges employers 15 per cent of each hire's first-year salary. This US-developed site stays ahead of the game by focusing their efforts on the 5 per cent of engineers who are never out of work.

The site claims that in its first auction in August last year, more than 30,000 professionals put themselves up for "sale" with 142 employers yielding more than $30 million in job offers. It also claims it's a win-win as employers save 30 per cent to 50 per cent on recruitment fees, and professionals save time by interviewing only with companies that can afford them.

Websites such as this are becoming more popular, particularly in areas where competition is intense. Since April this year, the Australian site FIFObids, has allowed employers to bid on the anonymous skill profiles of fly-in fly-out workers. More than 14,000 job hunters and 500 companies registered with the online service.

The site registers workers anonymously, listing skills and experience, location, roster and job preferences, minimum hourly rate and availability. Firms search the database for matches and make bids. Workers use the site for free, while companies pay fees based on the accepted hourly rate bid.

Whatever one thinks of online global talent auctions, the global talent war behind this novel recruiting approach is set to intensify with big economic and social consequences for Australia.

While a lot of public attention has focused on asylum-seekers, refugee policy and offshore processing, skilled migration has become the fastest growing component of total immigration during the past few decades for many developed countries including Australia, accounting for 68 per cent of the migrant intake last year. Skilled migration is an important source of potential (competitive) advantage for companies tapping this resource.

Despite the turbulent global economic conditions, ManpowerGroup, a global recruitment firm, says more than one in three employers encounter difficulties in filling skilled jobs, with employers in the Asia-Pacific region having the most acute shortages.

This was corroborated at a talk hosted by the Diversity in Work Research Group at the University of Sydney's business school, where Alec Bashinsky, national partner, people and performance at Deloitte, highlighted the endless struggle firms had to recruit the right talent as they competed in a global recruitment field.

The Gillard government's Asian Century white paper also made it clear that, to prosper, Australia must understand the forces that underpin the recruitment and transfer of migrant workers in our region. The paper highlights the need for brain transfer saying: "Two-way people movements between Australia and the rest of the region will further strengthen the fabric of Australian society and our way of life."
It goes on to say that Australia is well positioned to continue attracting highly skilled and talented people from the region to live, study and work.

However, we also need to be careful about win-win predictions. OECD data suggests that skilled migrants who enter countries without substantial information remain "unutilised". Making sure that the skills we import are not under-used and that worker integration and retention is not forgotten should be a priority for employers and government.

Picking up on this point, the white paper suggests: "One-third of board members of Australia's top 200 publicly listed companies and commonwealth bodies should have deep experience in and knowledge of Asia," which is a good starting point to capitalise on global talent.

Di van den Broek, Dimitria Groutsis and Will Harvey teach in the discipline of work and organisational studies, University of Sydney business school.

First published in The Australian

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