Recruiting in an Applicant’s Market – How to Win Over the Best Candidates

The series of lockdowns across Australia throughout 2021 have provided many employers and employees with an unwanted sense of déjà vu and served as a reminder that whether we like it or not, changes to the way we work are here to stay.

Perhaps the most unexpected of these changes is the effect the pandemic has had on the job market.

Recent data released by Seek demonstrates a trend of ‘extraordinarily high’ job postings, following ‘unprecedented growth' since the beginning of 2021. At the same time, the number of job applications is the lowest they have been since 2012, with average applications per job role decreasing month on month[1].

In other words, it is an applicant’s market. Driven by a combination of reduced labour supply, increased choice, and a preference for job security over new experiences, it will be much harder for your firm to attract and select top-performing talent than it was during or prior to the pandemic.

To some extent, you can get away with posting lazy, template-based job advertisements when it is an employer’s market. Applicants will be more focused on getting a stable job and beating the competition rather than looking around for their dream position. Unfortunately for lazy recruitment teams, this is not one of those time periods.

In an applicant’s market, you must ensure your job advertisement stands out while fighting the urge to hire sub-par candidates out of desperation.

So, what steps can you implement to ensure you attract, select, and retain the best applicant for the job during an applicant’s market?

  1. Build a profile of your perfect employee.

Conduct a Job Analysis Survey or Concurrent Study within new or established job roles to understand the core cognitive abilities, behavioural traits, and work-related interests required for success in the position. This identifies and quantifies the pre-requisites for success, enabling you to build a profile of your ideal employee. 

  1. Incorporate this profile into your job advertisement.

This will ensure it grabs the attention of your ideal applicant, which increases the likelihood they will apply. They will identify the role as a good fit for their personality, and one they will probably enjoy.

  1. Assess your applicants.

Just by following steps 1 and 2, you will have substantially improved the quality of your applicant pool. However, subjective biases can still affect your final judgment call. To gain the best results, assess your applicants and compare their results to the perfect employee profile. This will provide objective data on their role fit, their strengths, and any red flags to be investigated during the interview process.
Even if you only have one applicant by this point, it is still worthwhile assessing them, as it may be better to delay hiring than settle for a poor performer.

By using this three-step process, you will not only ensure that your company retains a competitive edge in an applicant’s market, but you will also find it easier to retain your new employees. They will be placed in a role they are more likely to perform and succeed in, therefore ensuring their engagement and long-term retention.

If you would like to discuss or apply this process further, please get in touch with Peoplogica’s Registered Psychologist Michael Mancinone via



Written by Michael Mancinone

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