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Competing for talent in a job seeker’s market

tribe leadership search

By David Hammond, head of Tribe Leadership Search.

Welcome to 2022 from Tribe Leadership Search. We place many of the country’s top leadership across commercial, for-purpose and public sectors.

New Zealand ended 2021 on a high. Auckland lockdown lifted, warm weather hit the 30s, and Christmas got us all out and spending. But any thoughts that 2022 might be a return to some resemblance of pre-Pandemic normality have quietly evaporated with the impending Omicron epidemic.
Overall, the economy did not bounce back as expected late last year, with GDP falling 3.8 percent and disposable income falling by 3.6 percent. Over the past summers, pre-Covid, we were used to our tourism industry eclipsing dairying returns at $40 billion GDP. Tourism revenue is almost halved at $25 billion with international tourists turned away from ‘fortress Aotearoa’, and locals more hesitant to go out.
So wouldn’t this all lead to our unemployment ballooning? No, actually. At 3.4 percent unemployment, our country has its lowest unemployment rate on record, and is half that of Europe. Why?
Well, international talent cannot get in to compete with New Zealanders for jobs. There are shortages in many industry sectors, and it is a ‘job seeker’s market’ right now. We are soaking up our own workers into employment, albeit much of that employment is lower paid. But we are also seeing aggressive competition for top New Zealand talent. Without the international people, the head-hunting of locals is getting extreme.
So how do employers compete in 2022 for top-talent in a recruitment ‘bull market’?

Turn up the heat internally
What do I mean? Well, you expected me to say, “Focus on retention”, and what I am about to talk about is linking staff development to retention. I see a lot of recruitment because companies or organisations do not efficiently train their own people well enough.
As a senior executive how well do you know the system of moving staff efficiently from junior to intermediate to senior. Mostly, this is done by one-up assessment, or, reliance on the opinion of the next manager up the chain. This is inefficient, subjective, and clogs the system of talent. An end-result is unnecessary external recruitment and frustrated staff who leave.

Agility
There is a thought that internal salary benchmarking is important for equity. I hear this more from the public sector than commercial. If you are in a tight market competing heavily for talent at any level, your key benchmark is the external market competing against you. This trumps internal equity. You also need a recruitment agency with agility in its DNA. At Tribe we average 72 days for executive placement, and have taken weeks out of the normal process whilst keeping quality. We fast-track talent directly to panel interview if warranted. In this market you need intelligent agility.

Storytelling
What is the compelling reason to join your tribe and not another? Storytelling and the importance of culture to the success of top talent is behind our company’s name. We attract a lot of more highly paid professionals into other sectors because they are attracted by the story of those organisations through our videos which accompany each recruitment.
A common reply to us is, “I never would have even looked at this job if I didn’t see the video.” It’s not ‘employment branding’; it’s telling the story of what makes you tick, and how that top talent can level a legacy in Aotearoa through the work you do. They need that connection.
For 2022 my guidance is to become an expert in your own ‘people and capability’ systems and to lead these rather than be led. These systems are now more critical than ever to your organisation’s success in Aotearoa.

For support in advisory, recruitment or confidential, you can contact David at 027 444 6368, or follow him on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/david-hammond-executivesearch/.

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