Last year’s tumultuous events have left the employment market in a state of unpredictability. During the surging waves of infections, quarantines and lockdowns were hurriedly put in place, which led to fewer people going out and more businesses closing down. The economy was in a downturn.

This influenced the candidate’s mindset and, in turn, affected their behaviour when looking for jobs during the last year. Below are findings based on SEEK’s employment market update of 2020.

Significant drop in application rates

Across the market, there was a material fall in application rates. According to the report, a 14% overall drop in applications per ad in the year-over-year for 2019 and 2020. This means that there were fewer available candidates in 2020. 

But this decline was not because of fewer visits to the job site. We can see in the data that the number of site visits has remained almost the same for 2020 compared to the 2019 data. So why are there fewer candidates applying for job? The answer lies in the conversions from job ad view to completing an application. 

According to data, the number of views job ads get and the application per ad are widening. With fewer applications, this means that candidates are becoming more selective with the roles they intend to apply for.

People were less inclined to leave current roles

One reason for the drop in applications is that fewer people are inclined to leave their current roles. The pandemic affected candidates’ intention to switch careers, their main sentiment being, “I was planning to leave my current job but decided to stay because of COVID-19.” Around 31% of those surveyed agreed with this statement. And 1 in 3 people was held back from changing roles due to the virus outbreak. 

Not only that, a lot of them have expressed worry and are on alert for further impacts from the virus, with 7 out of 10 candidates surveyed being worried about another wave of infected cases.

Survey shows job security became a top priority

Another factor that affected the candidate’s mindset is job security. The pandemic caused millions of people to lose their jobs. This resulted in candidates switching their priorities when looking for jobs. 

Pre-pandemic, the factors that affected a candidate’s decision to apply for a job were the following: 

  1. Salary compensation
  2. Work-life balance
  3. Career development opportunities
  4. Job security

But now, job security has taken the top spot, followed by work-life balance, flexible hours scheduling, working conditions/environment. This shift may have also been impacted by the work-from-home model that many companies adopted last year.

Overall decline in applications per job ad across all industries

Industries with low salary brands suffer the lowest rate of applications per job ad, with the hospitality and tourism industry with a -57% rate of applications, followed by trades and services (-49%) and manufacturing, transport, and logistics industry (-47%)

However, two industries with high salary bands saw an increase in applications during 2020. The legal industry had a 39% increase in applications per ad, and engineering-related jobs increased by 2%.

2020 was tough for everyone but 2021 is starting to look up as vaccinations are underway and many businesses are opening back up, likely looking to hire again. In fact, Australia is among the quickest to recover from unemployment as the unemployment rate falls to 5.5%. 

Are you looking to hire new talents for your company as the economy picks up again? Start the conversation with the best IT recruitment consultants in Melbourne, Canberra, Adelaide and Brisbane by emailing or calling 1300 544 652.