Australian companies poor in promoting local jobs overseas

By: Chris Smith

Australian companies are poor in promoting local job opportunities overseas and are losing out to their Asian counterparts in the

Australian companies are poor in promoting local job opportunities overseas and are losing out to their Asian counterparts in the race to attract international candidates, according to a 17 country global survey conducted by international recruiter Robert Half.

The Robert Half 2008 Global Workplace survey found that less than a quarter (23 percent) of Australian companies actively recruited employees from overseas.

In comparison, neighbours Hong Kong and Singapore are beating Australia to it, with more than 50 percent of companies actively recruiting globally.

Asia (49 percent) and the UK (38 percent) were the two main regions targeted by Australian companies that actively recruited internationally. This was followed by New Zealand and Western Europe on par at 21 percent.

The results show that Australian companies are not capitalising on the opportunities global recruitment brings, particularly in light of Australia’s current skills shortage extending from skilled tradespeople to processionals in the accounting and financial services area, says David Jones, Robert Half Managing Director Asia Pacific.

"While there is a realisation within corporate Australia that internal job fulfilment must come from beyond our borders, the results show that we have not bridged this gap as yet in attracting the world’s best by promoting our economic outlook and high liveability conditions," he says.

"Countries such as Singapore and Hong Kong are attractive destinations due to the appeal of securing regional roles, largely due to these countries hosting regional hubs as well as lower taxes and attractive bonus packages."

"That said, we have an excellent window of opportunity to attract people now given the economic slowdown in the UK and the US. Our research shows us that potential employees are looking to move to Australia and take advantage of its buoyant economy," he says.

For those Australian companies not actively recruiting from overseas, lack of local knowledge of local legalities (19 percent), lack of local industry network (18 percent) and difficulty in obtaining work visas (12 percent) were cited as the main reasons for not actively looking overseas.

"Overall, there seems to be reluctance on the part of corporate Australia to incorporate cross border opportunities into their recruitment practices, despite their global economic outlooks," says Jones.

"Our findings show that an opportunity exists for greater collaboration between businesses and government in working to overcome these issues."

There are a number of strategies that companies can easily adopt in extending their recruitment practices overseas, says Jones.

Internally, these could include encouraging staff to inquire about overseas transfers with their direct reports, via global intranet sites and company noticeboards.

Externally, it could be broadening hiring programs to tap into international media, keeping up to speed with visa requirements and changes to programs, thinking outside of obvious locations such as the UK and the US as well as collaborating with Government funded programs.

According to the survey, Australian companies reported using online job boards (40 percent), industry associations (37 percent) and their own websites (27 percent) as the three main vehicles for attracting international candidates. Globally online job boards (39 percent) and internal transfers (22 percent) were the most popular mechanism to attract foreign talent.

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