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The Land of Milk and Money

By October 8, 2015No Comments

Knowledge is power, or so “they” say. However, the more I read, the more confused I become. One minute eggs are good for us, next thing, they’re harbouring Al-Qaeda. Apparently even Kale is now poisoning us with thallium and arsenic. They’ll warn us off smoking in aeroplane toilets and unprotected sex next. This week has been no exception.

Auckland has long blown its own trumpet over it’s consistent appearance in the “World’s most liveable cities” list. Described by one Telegraph journo as a “lively cultural hub” with easy access to “plenty of nature-based activities such as hiking on the rocky, volcanic island of Rangitoto, and swimming on west coast beaches”, it currently ranks in at number 9 globally. This week however, we find out from The Herald that, like a fur coat with no knickers, we all actually hate it here, and are desperate to get jobs in Hamilton.

Well, that may be a slight exaggeration, but with nearly a third of all Auckland homes selling for over $1m, and with Trade Me Jobs Peter Osborne saying that the job market is “cooling off“, there’s been an 81% increase in Aucklanders applying for jobs in the Waikato. Similarly, Canterbury saw a 45% increase in applications from Auckland and the Bay of Plenty saw a 32% increase.

So this got me thinking. A rare and uncomfortable experience for me for sure. Are we at a point yet where we as recruiters can serve New Zealand’s biggest market, without actually being physically based in it? Actually, scrap the Auckland focus. Can we as an industry recruit effectively remotely?

I look at the tools of my trade. My CRM is cloud based with a supporting app. Other documents are saved in Dropbox. We communicate internally via Slack. A fair proportion of candidates who we interview are not “in country” yet, so we use Skype and FaceTime. All of these can be accessed from anywhere. As New Zealand’s internet infrastructure is dragged into the 21st Century, I can even make out strange facial ticks and blobs of cocaine residue on candidates nose’s via a Skype call. On the candidate side, in certain industries, we’re almost at the point where we don’t physically need to meet. I say certain industries, as unfortunately for some, the first and arguably most important assessment of a candidate’s skill and marketability is their ability to find your office and show up on time not wearing gumboots. A labour hire recruiter in my office told me this week that only 30% of his candidates show up for interviews with the agency. Likewise, in certain industries, many candidates don’t have the access or inclination to embrace the emerging technologies.

Historically, the one sticking point for remote working has been on the client side. As a recruiter I know once hastagged, #FaceToFaceWinsTheRace. Truth be told, nothing picks up a job brief like an actual physical meeting. I mean a meeting in an office, not “physical” like when Daddy loves Mummy very much and they make a baby. Although that has also been known to win business in this industry. Also, when the shit hits the fan and a contractor smokes P whilst at work, nothing smooths things over like a recruiter dropping everything only to show up with an apple turnover and branded cup cakes. Quite simply, being close to your clients makes you more money. The point is, the difference in revenue probably doesn’t make up for Auckland’s exorbitant property prices. We do a considerable amount of recruitment in Wellington for example, and we manage to foster strong relationships with our clients down there through focused, semi-frequent visits.

So that may be the future of Rice Consulting and virtualRPO. Your usual blogger is currently in the UK, and still manages to pester me via email, so he’s no doubt a remote working convert. Indeed, we’ve built a whole business around the concept that you can provide a fantastic recruitment service without physically  being onsite. Our “On-Demand Recruiters” consistently receive fantastic feedback from clients, often managing complex recruitment drives from their kitchen table. Personally, I can see myself one year from now, Holden ute, mullet, a penchant for v8 motorsport and the Chiefs, filling roles across New Zealand.

From Bluff to Kaitaia, have a fantastic Friday everyone.



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.