Recruitment is local, amongst other things, shaped by regional economic conditions, supply of labour and the reluctance of a job seeker to seek employment far from home. It is more than likely, talent solution providers with a sharp focus on meeting local needs will thrive.
Capitaljobs.com.au is a niche job board dedicated to serving employers in the Canberra and Illawara region. We recently caught up with Clayton Wehner, Managing Director, and he sheds some light on the challenges faced by regional employers, skills shortage, talent and the modus operandi of Capitaljobs.
DT: Can you give us an overview of Capitaljobs?
CW: CapitalJobs.com.au is a new online jobs board that services the Canberra, Queanbeyan, south-eastern New South Wales and the Illawarra Regions. The site was launched in April 2008 as part of the AllHomes family of websites. Real estate website AllHomes is Canberra’s most popular and most recognised website and CapitalJobs.com.au shares its branding.
CapitalJobs.com.au is centred on the city of Canberra and seeks to fill a geographic niche (unlike many new job boards, which have typically focused on industry niches). Like most job boards, CapitalJobs.com.au allows job seekers to search and apply for current job vacancies, receive email job alerts, register their CV online and be approached by prospective employers via a CV Search capability.
DT: What makes Capitaljobs different?
CW: These are our points of difference:
- LOCALLY-FOCUSED: We’re local. We understand Canberra and the region. We don’t focus on the Sydney or Melbourne job markets, as many of our competitors do. Our site is geared for local search criteria, such as searching by public service APS levels, government security clearances and locality (eg. Belconnen, Cooma).
- TARGETED ADVERTISING: Our target audience/traffic consists of job seekers that live in the region, or those who are planning to move to the region. This means that advertising is targeted and connects employers with quality, specialised candidates who are looking for work here. Our searchable CV database and email/RSS alerts system further increase the chances of finding the right candidate.
- FAIR PRICE: We’re cheaper than the national job boards – our casual advertising price is $79 + GST per job slot (which is reusable within a 30 day period), compared to much higher rates for ‘perishable’ advertisements on our competitor’s sites. There are also discounted rates for volume advertisers.
- WIDER EXPOSURE: We offer an excellent alternative to advertising in the newspaper. Not only are we cheaper than advertising in the newspaper, but our advertisements are ‘live’ for 30 days, compared to the 24 hour timeframe offered by the newspaper. This provides significantly wider reach to attract candidates.
- EASE OF USE: Our website is very powerful, yet extremely easy to use, even by novices. If advertisers encounter problems, we provide detailed online documentation and same-day email support.
- EXPERIENCED STAFF: Our staff have worked in human resources and recruitment in Canberra, they understand the industry, and are familiar with the challenges faced by organisations that are seeking to attract and retain staff in a tight labour market.
- COMMITMENT TO EXCELLENCE: We are absolutely committed to creating a leading-edge, fully-featured online jobs board for Canberra and the region.
DT: Why should clients advertise on your site?
CW: For Advertisers, CapitalJobs.com.au represents a very targeted and cost-effective place to advertise job vacancies in the region. Unlike the national job boards, our job seekers are either existing residents of the Canberra region, or people looking for work in the region. Not only is our traffic more targeted, but we also charge a lot less to advertise on our site because we’re a small business with lower overheads.
Our casual rate is $79 + GST per month-long ‘job slot’, which is significantly less than the national boards. Paying for a job slot enables advertisers to post consecutive ads for the life of the slot, rather than having to pay a fee for each perishable advertisement. On top of that, each job slot comes with a CV view per day from our CV Search facility. Access to CV databases on other job boards often incurs an additional fee.
Advertising on CapitalJobs.com.au also has advantages over print advertising. Advertising in the weekend newspaper is expensive and this method only presents a small window of opportunity (1-2 day exposure) for job seekers to read your advertisement. Jobs on our website are live for 30 days, which means that the exposure is much greater.
DT: What types of employers use your site and who are your main audiences (candidates)?
CW: During our free trial period from April to July, we had over 350 advertisers sign up on the website, ranging from government departments and multinational companies, to small-medium enterprises and SOHO businesses. We have signed up seven Canberra recruitment firms that are providing us with a steady stream of jobs and our casual advertiser numbers are also growing steadily. As we are geographically-focused, we encourage all organisations in the Canberra region, regardless of industry, to try CapitalJobs.com.au for their hiring needs.
In terms of job seekers, we are regularly attracting over 1,000 unique visitors a day and each visitor typically views between 7-8 advertisements. The most popular categories have been Accountancy and Finance (no surprise given the focus of economic rationalisation by the new government), Administration and Office Staff, and Information Technology, which are all traditionally high areas of demand for government. But the website is not just for the public sector, CapitalJobs.com.au also caters for private sector companies, the trades, the retail and hospitality industries, to name but a few. To this end, we hope to provide small, local businesses with a cost-effective alternative to the more-expensive national job boards and print advertising options.
DT: What are the challenges and issues faced by regional employers in acquiring talent?
CW: Regional employers will always find it tough to attract talent away from the big cities. The past few decades have seen a mass exodus of people from the ‘bush’ to the coastal fringes of Australia, where population, industry and infrastructure have concentrated, and this trend is not going to reverse anytime soon.
But, in some respects, Canberra is different from the smaller regional centres and towns that have been drained of talent by the big cities – perhaps the most telling indicator is the fact that Canberrans have the highest average income of all Australians. Canberra represents a very desirable domicile for many workers because there is always plentiful employment, the pay rates are very good (particularly for specialist government contractors who are paid by the hour) and the lifestyle offered by the nation’s capital is relaxed and relatively cosmopolitan.
Canberra is particularly good for families – there are great schools, excellent parks and recreational facilities, and it takes no longer than 15 minutes to get anywhere by car in the ACT, even in peak hour. Compared to the traffic snarls of Sydney, Canberra’s roads are a dream.
That said, there remains a certain stigma about the nation’s capital in Sydney, Melbourne and beyond – many outsiders still believe that Canberra is cold, sterile and full of politicians/bureaucrats. Employers need to counter this misconception if they hope to attract staff to Canberra, particularly from the larger cities. But, thankfully, for all its detractors, there are many others who love Canberra and wouldn’t live anywhere else. It’s no surprise that most of the detractors have never actually set foot in the capital.
There will always be shortages of particular trades and professions from time to time, but I don’t envisage that Canberra will experience a major talent crisis in the future. The fact that government continues to spend through tough times also insulates the city from some of the economic pain that is felt elsewhere during downturns and recessions. Indeed, now might be a good time to think about moving to Canberra…
DT: What are your thoughts on ‘talent’, can you define it?
CW: I am a strong believer that ‘people’ are the most critical component of any organisation. An organisation cannot enact its business effectively (let alone make a profit) without skilled staff who are dedicated and focused.
In recent times, it has become much harder to recruit and retain these types of people – a period of sustained economic growth and a shortage of skilled workers has resulted in a ‘war for talent’ – there’s lots of work, but too few people to do it all.
In the past, organisations held the upper hand in employer-employee relationships – they determined whether a person was suitable for employment and dictated the employee’s salary and conditions. That has all changed. Today, employers have to ’sell themselves’ to potential employees – and not the other way around. Some employers have failed to recognise this paradigm shift, clutching to the antiquated belief that people should be ‘grateful for just having a job’. Ultimately, these are the organisations that will lose the ‘war for talent’.
Whether we like it or not, now is the time to adopt a ’soft’ human resource management approach at work, by valuing our staff, empowering them and providing them with flexible working conditions. Skills shortages will become more pronounced over the coming decade – it is going to get even tougher to recruit and retain quality employees in the coming years. The ‘war for talent’ will intensify further and companies will need to do much more – socially, environmentally and economically – to become an ‘employer of choice’. Candidates will continue to enjoy almost limitless choice – if one employment experience does not bring satisfaction, then there will be plenty of other opportunities to take up. Gone are the days where the prestige of working for a particular employer is sufficient. Accordingly, the most successful businesses will implement talent acquisition and management strategies to recruit and retain their prized staff.