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Recruiting in Australia: Is the Grass Always Greener?

By May 10, 20123 Comments

I had to laugh earlier this week when driving in to work.  Carol Ramos, the US correspondent on Marcus Lush’s breakfast show, was telling him how up in arms they are in America over the Australian Defence Force’s recent attempts to recruit US military personnel into their own military with promises of higher pay and better standards of living.  “Can’t they recruit and train their own?” she exhorted with great indignation.

As we well know in New Zealand the answer is no, not enough for their commodity-fuelled expanding economy anyway.  Welcome to our world, Carol.  It’s been happening to us here in New Zealand for aeons and now, due to your country’s terminal addiction to debt and greed reducing the value of the US dollar, it’s going to happen to you now as well.

According to Statistics New Zealand 52,000 kiwis moved across the Tasman in the year to January.  The Oz Jobs Expo is on in Auckland this weekend – they want you in their mines dontchaknow?  Compare Wayne Swan’s budget this week declaring an economy in surplus with what you’re about to hear from Bill English in a couple of weeks’ time.  The allure is obvious.  Today’s Herald announces Rio Tinto’s aggresive push to recruit kiwis with:

“…big advertisements here calling for more engineers, tradespeople, project managers and specialists as it expands iron ore production from 225 million tonnes a year to 353 million by 2015.”

But what about the recruitment industry?

Sure, no doubt there’s recruitment firms in Australia, particularly in QLD and WA, going great guns, a world away from the uphill battle, shoulder-to-the-wheel efforts becoming commonplace in the New Zealand industry these days.  Anyone recruiting in mining, energy and oil & gas in those states is very well-placed indeed, and I heard from one such kiwi recruiter just last night who went over at Christmas time and billed $75k in contractor margins in her third month in a new office.

But is the grass always greener?  During a recent trip to Sydney I was talking to another rec-to-rec who knows a few kiwi recruiters around town and said they didn’t always experience universal success.  In fact one was doing really well for his firm, billing $40k – $60k per month, but due to enormous house prices and high costs of living, was finding it impossible to get onto the housing ladder and was considering a return to Auckland just to get his family into a reasonable property that they could actually own themselves.

Last year I was inundated with requests from Aussie recruitment owners looking for kiwi recruiters heading their way.  At the same time I was hearing a lot of interest from recruiters here in this market, and also seeing repeated adverts appearing on the New Zealand SEEK job board looking to attract kiwi recruiters across the ditch.

But now in 2012 it has all gone very quiet…. So what’s happened?  Has the market in New Zealand rumbled into enough life to encourage our recruitment talent to remain?  Or has the gloss come off Australia with their weakened banking and finance sectors?  If so who are those 55,000 kiwis?  Surely not all intellectually- (and socially-) challenged kiwis like witnessed on the eye-opening TV3 series The GC?

Not many of that number seem to be recruiters these days.  This blog is read by a lot of kiwi recruiters so let me know your thoughts.  Does Australia still hold strong appeal for your future recruitment career?  Or is it time to take up mining instead?


In other news, we at Rice Consulting will be launching the first of our end-of-Quarter Social Recruiting Pow-Wows towards the end of June.  This will be laid back networking drinks for all recruiters, agency and internal, with an interest in social recruiting, interspersed with quick-fire presentations from Paul Jacobs, talking about JobGram and other stuff in his head, and the guys at JobX, talking about effective job placement on social media.  For an invite you’ll need to be socially engaged with us at Rice Consulting.  Subscribe to The Whiteboard by entering your e-mail over there on the right–> or follow @NZRice on Twitter, our Recruitment World board on Pinterest, or Like us on Facebook where we will be managing the event, RSVPs and attendance lists.  Have a great weekend!

Jonathan Rice

MD at New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice Consulting and co-founder of on-demand recruiter offering Joyn. Recruitment agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.


  • Pix says:

    In the long run I believe Australia would be a better choice.  This is down to having a larger population = better opportunity to advance your career up the corporate ladder (if that is your thing!).

  • Mike Duncan says:

    You’re not bad at these blogs Jon!
    Having recruited in NZ and Australia as well as the UK it was an interesting read.  There is definitely a lot happening in Australia but mainly in the states of Queensland and Western Australia.  NT is also pretty busy but on a smaller scale.  NSW and Vic are still busy as they are large population centres but it is a different challenge for a recruiter in these states.  Jobs are less readily available compared to WA for example where they have just posted their lowest unemployment rate for 3.5 years of 3.8%.  Lots of jobs but more competition and it seems to have encouraged a lot of poor recruitment practice where little value is added.  I guess as a recruiter it is always better to be in a more positive economic environment but it is swings and roundabouts to a certain extent.  The cost of living is definitely higher here so you might bill more but you also need more to get by.