Businesses compete for talented employees. It is important to understand that potential employees have differing expectations and to think about what will attract job seekers to your workplace. Businesses need to be smart in presenting job opportunities and present themselves in a positive light.
For example, you can make your business stand out as a sought after workplace by offering attractive conditions and competitive pay; having good recruitment, induction, training and development plans in place; making new employees feel welcome; being culturally inclusive; being clear about employee roles, responsibilities and expectations; and modelling effective leadership and management behaviour.
Attracting the best people to your team is an important part of developing a strong workforce. Some strategies to help you achieve this are explored here.
Think about your competitive advantage
Before recruiting you need to think about what employment benefits you can offer that would be attractive to prospective employees. Develop a list of realistic benefits that you are able to offer such as:
- flexible work arrangements;
- induction programs;
- mentoring arrangements;
- training and development opportunities;
- competitive salaries; or
- a positive brand and business reputation in the community.
Think about what your competitors are offering.
Your business is more likely to attract the best and brightest if you can offer a better or different collection of benefits from those of your competitors.
Reputation and employer branding
When competing for skilled employees, your reputation and the image of your business can be a key factor in attracting job seekers to work for you. If your brand is well known and respected in the labour market, then you are more likely to attract more candidates for job vacancies. A business with a positive employer brand is more likely to:
- attract more candidates and therefore have the pick of the best candidates;
- create a business identity that is embraced and promoted by current employees; and
- have the best employees and therefore be more competitive in the market place.
The information sheet Building a good employer brand provides ideas for developing your reputation as a good employer.
Build your employer brand and reputation
The processes that you adopt to attract, recruit, select, induct, train, lead and manage your staff can collectively reinforce your employer reputation. The ideas presented below can help you develop a positive business reputation.
This helps all employees know what they are supposed to do and how to go about it.
Conduct thorough inductions so that new employees understand your business brand and feel welcomed into it.
In an environment where a skilled workforce makes the difference between a successful business and a mediocre one, training helps to equip your employees to do the job for today, as well as being able to meet the demands of your customers for tomorrow.
Offering training and professional development demonstrates your interest and investment in your staff’s future which can help them to feel valued in your business and to develop loyalty towards your business. Cultural competency training can support the development of a culturally inclusive workforce.
Lead by example. If you want people to behave and work in a certain way, make sure this is supported and reflected by all managers and leaders in your business.
Building a positive workplace culture
If you have been successful at recruiting employees in the past, only to lose them later, or if they have stayed, but haven’t lived up to your earlier expectations, the reason could be that your workplace culture is not as positive as it could be.
What is workplace culture?
A workplace culture can be considered to be the assumptions shared by the workforce about what behaviours are ‘expected’ in the workplace and ‘accepted’ by the rest of the team – by both management and co-workers. Those beliefs about expected and accepted behaviours will be reinforced by:
- what other people tell them has happened previously (the stories);
- the way people communicate with each other, both verbally and non-verbally (the languages); and
- what they see about ‘how it’s done around here’ (the symbols and rituals). Symbols, for example, could be as simple as uniform style or clear job descriptions that show you respect employees. Rituals might include the fact that everyone downs tools half an hour before knock-off to allow time to clean up.
To get a feel for what your own company culture might be, think about how you would answer a prospective employee who asked the question,
‘Why would I want to come and work for you?’
Would you be able to include words and phrases that show a positive workplace culture such as:
‘family-friendly', ‘flexible to your needs’, ‘happy team environment’,
‘will be a valued member of our team’, ‘professional development support’,
'culturally inclusive workplace', 'individually based training',
‘well respected company’.
Your business and its place in the community
Corporate social responsibility requires businesses and managers to behave ethically and strive to improve the quality of life for employees, their families, the local community and society in general.
Jobseekers are more likely to be attracted to a business that has a respected place in the community.
You should also consider becoming a workplace of choice for Aboriginal people.
How you can be a good corporate citizen
Acting in a socially responsible and ethical manner can generate profit and win you points in becoming an employer of choice. It makes good sense to contribute to sustainable and supportive communities.
The information sheet Ideas for projecting a good corporate image has lots of ideas on what you can do in your workplace to be a good corporate citizen.
Expand your employment pool — Build a diverse workforce
The business case for diversity across your workforce is compelling. Given that the traditional pool of potential employees has significantly reduced, workforce diversity is an important component of long term sustainability. Increasingly, businesses are operating in the global marketplace and may find it beneficial to have employees from different cultural or linguistic backgrounds to assist in establishing overseas markets. Your customers and potential customers come from diverse backgrounds too.
Having a diverse workforce allows you to deliver better services to your customers and build better customer relationships with them. For example; more mature or younger customers may prefer to be served by employees of a similar age group.
Employees from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds may help to attract and retain customers from similar backgrounds. Aboriginal people are an important part of the customer base, and as employees can add fresh perspectives and build awareness of new business opportunities. In a competitive labour market, it is prudent to maximise your pool of potential employees.
If you are having difficulty attracting employees, it may be timely to take a fresh look at groups that may not have previously seemed an obvious fit for your business. People from these groups may be qualified, capable, keen and well suited to perform work in your business. Some of these diverse groups are discussed in more detail here.
Employing Aboriginal people makes good business sense and adds value to the diversity of your business by bringing fresh insights and new ideas that will help your business to grow. Your local Jobs and Skills Centre can help you to attract, recruit and retain Aboriginal employees by:
- providing information about financial incentives that may be available for employers who employ Aboriginal people;
- promoting vacancies to Aboriginal job seekers;
- providing resources and advice on recruitment and retention strategies; and
- providing access to mentoring services and cultural awareness training.
A jobs board is available to assist and support Aboriginal jobseekers to find employment. Employers can post job vacancies on the board, free of charge, to attract Aboriginal employees. Find out more about the jobs board
As part of the Jobs, Land and Economy Program (JLEP), the Australian Government provides various support options for employers to recruit and retain Aboriginal and Indigenous employees. For information on support options available for employers and their Indigenous employees, visit the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet website.
If you employ an eligible person, you may be able to apply for the Long term unemployed and Indigenous wage subsidy. Eligible employers can receive up to $6,500 (GST inclusive) for employing eligible jobseekers.
For additional information on wage subsidies visit the Department of Jobs and Small Business website. Alternatively you may wish to contact their Employer hotline on 13 17 15.
A culturally and linguistically diverse workforce can offer businesses a competitive advantage. The Diversity Council of Australia's Issues Paper on Australia in the Asian Century (2012) notes that a diverse workforce
"...has the capacity to generate the market insight and innovative business solutions that organisations urgently need to thrive and grow in complex regional and global operating environments. [...] It enables businesses to better understand and service the needs of increasingly culturally diverse client bases, both locally and regionally; opens up business networks, assisting organisations to identify and enter new local, regional and international markets; and assists with the development of domestic niche marketing."
You can increase the pool of your potential employees by:
- diversifying recruitment strategies through, for example, contacting ethnic organisations and professional associations and migrant resource centres and publicising vacancies through ethnic media; and
- participating in work experience and internship programs for people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
You can manage the diversity of your workforce and maximise its potential by:
- implementing equal opportunity and cultural competency training for staff;
- establishing mentoring arrangements to support the integration of culturally and linguistically diverse employees into the workplace and encourage retention;
- providing access to English language training where appropriate; and
- contacting your local training provider for more information and assistance.
business.gov.au is an online Australian Government resource that provides useful information on employing people and expanding your employment pool through diversity in the workplace.
If local workers cannot be sourced to fill vacancies in your business, skilled migration may be an option.
Australian Government's Department of Home Affairs (previously Department for Immigration and Border Protection) has responsibility for immigration policy. Information on the various employer sponsored visas that might suit your business needs can be found at homeaffairs.gov.au.
The Department of Training and Workforce Developnent has information on skilled migration on their website, including the WA Skilled migration occupation list (WASMOL).
For information on living and working in Western Australia, or how to apply for nomination by the State Government for a skilled nominated visa under WA's State nominated migration program, please visit the WA Government's migration portal.
For ideas on how to address potential migrant workers’ workplace issues, you can refer to the guide published by the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety: Understanding the safety and health needs of your workplace: Migrant workers: A guide for employers.
The Department of Local Government's Office of Multicultural Interests has published a report titled The Economic and Social Contribution of Migrants to Western Australia. You can download the report from their website.
Employing an apprentice or trainee can help you to develop the skills of your workforce and could be the smartest decision you make.
Apprenticeships/traineeships combine practical experience at work with structured training. Apprenticeships generally include traditional technical trades such as bricklaying and cabinet making. Traineeships are usually in non-trade areas such as hospitality, business and health. Both are available to people of all ages. Most can be undertaken on a full-time or part-time basis and many can be started at school.
At the same time, incentives for employers have increased and training is more flexible. You can employ an apprentice/trainee directly or become a host employer through a group training organisation.
Australian Apprenticeship Support Network providers, funded through the Australian Government, help employers navigate through apprenticeship arrangements and ensure apprentices get the support they need to complete their training.
The Apprenticeship Office administers training contracts and regulates the apprenticeship system in Western Australia.
Does your business respect and value the diversity brought by both women and men? Research suggests that these kinds of businesses are better able to attract and retain high performers, as they like to work for businesses that they view as fair. It also makes good business sense to ensure women are represented in the workplace because:
- women tend to be more highly educated than men. Statistics show 20% more women aged 25 to 34 hold bachelor degrees compared to men;
- women can help your business understand how to appeal to female customers. This is important as women are reported to control or influence 72% of household spending in Australia; and
- gender equality can reduce expenses. A fair workplace encourages employees to stay with a business. Replacing an employee can cost 75% or more of their annual wage.
More information is available at the Workplace Gender Equality Agency.
By advertising positions in formats that are accessible to everyone, employers can improve the likelihood of employing people with disability. By focusing on a person’s abilities, you can not only help to improve their self-worth, but also acquire a very loyal employee for your business.
For more information on industrial and employer agreements, conditions of employment and award provisions for employing people with disability in Western Australia, you can refer to the Employing people with disabilities page on the business.gov.au website.
The Disability Services Commission also provides information, support and services to employers and people with disability.
The Department of Social Services has a Disability Employment Services area which helps employers and people with disability find employment.
People who are under-employed present a real opportunity for you to address your skill and labour shortages, but are often overlooked. These people may not be registered with Centrelink or Jobactive because they already have some work – but they may have time available to match the hours you have vacant.
People who are under-employed may be:
- working part time in the industry for someone else;
- working part time in another industry but with transferable skills matched to your vacancies;
- working full time in seasonal work that would have them available at your peak periods;
- students looking to supplement their income while studying (sometimes a complete work area can be staffed by students on integrated rosters); or
- farmers, or their dependants, who need to supplement their income (and may already have some of the skills you want).
Accessing these people can be as simple as advertising your part time vacancies in the right place, for example recruitment agencies that specialise in part time work; through student or farmers’ associations; sporting or community organisations or even by developing cooperative arrangements with allied industries that are experiencing the same difficulties. In some circumstances you may be able to help these people overcome barriers to more employment hours, such as providing or subsidising child care.
Workers may leave the paid workforce for a variety of reasons including for example, pregnancy and child rearing, to undertake study, to provide elder or other dependent care or to volunteer. These workers may hold a wealth of talent and experience. Even though they have been away from the paid workforce for a period of time, they can be valuable assets to your business.
You may also have employees who have been away from the workplace during a period of paid or unpaid parental leave. There are State and Australian Government laws concerning employees’ rights to return to work following parental leave.
You can find out about your obligations concerning employees returning from parental leave by contacting:
Mature age workers are often the most experienced applicants in the market place and they should be seriously considered when recruiting and selecting new employees. Research reveals that some of the favourable qualities of mature age workers include:
- life and work experience;
- a strong work ethic;
- higher than average commitment to their workplaces;
- lower absenteeism;
- reliability and stability; and
- they are not necessarily looking for career progression, which can be good for workplaces that offer limited promotional opportunity.
There are approximately 4 million baby boomers scheduled to leave the Australian workforce in the next 20 years. Given the ever reducing number of young people entering the workforce, having retention strategies that specifically target the mature aged employees in your workforce makes business good sense.
Government assistance is available for businesses who would like to employ mature aged workers. For more information, view the Department of Jobs and Small Business' Investing in Experience Toolkit.
The WA Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety also provides information on how mature age workers can be a great asset to your business.
Over the next decade, we will see more people leave the workforce than enter it. Therefore it’s smart to retain employees who want to keep working. This may include older workers who want to continue working beyond the traditional retirement age, or those who want to keep working but reduce their hours and/or level of responsibility.
Phased retirement allows employees to phase their exit from the workforce by moving to a part time or casual position, job sharing, moving to a lower level position or by working from home. In addition to the financial benefits of continuing working, the phased retiree can better manage their withdrawal from the workforce.
The business benefits of retaining mature-aged employees through phased retirement include:
- the opportunity to capture and transmit valuable corporate knowledge before the employee leaves completely;
- transferring the employee’s skills through the training and mentoring of younger workers;
- calling on the employees’ skills to see the business through particular peak periods, thus avoiding the need to hire and train new people; and
- maintaining a continuity of service with regular clients.
For more information and assistance on attracting and keeping mature age employees or flexible retirement, contact the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety.
The following resources and websites provide lots more information about hiring someone from beyond your traditional pool of potential employees.
Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety
Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Western Australia (CCI) publications
Disability Services Commission, Government of Western Australia
- For assistance in finding employees to build your diverse workforce contact Australian JobSearch on 131715 or visit jobsearch.gov.au.
Workplace Gender Equality Agency
Financial support options for employers
The Federal Government also offers a range of financial support options for employers who recruit employees from beyond the traditional employment pool and look to diversifying their workforce. These include:
- wage subsidies;
- the Disability Employment Services Wage Subsidy Scheme; and
- the Employment Assistance Fund.
For more information on financial assistance, head to JobAccess or call them on 1800 464 800.
Recruitment is the process of finding a number of potential candidates from which to choose the most suitable person to work in your business.
The recruitment process
Once you have identified a vacancy, the following key steps are involved in recruiting an employee. Select each step to find out more about each one. You can use the Recruitment process checklist to help you to plan and undertake your recruitment process from beginning to end.
A job analysis looks at the duties and responsibilities of a job in your business. The job analysis will inform the job description and job requirements, prior to advertising for a potential employee. Conducting a job analysis will help you to determine:
- the actual tasks conducted by the employee in that job and the tools used to do it effectively;
- the skills, knowledge and attributes that are required to effectively perform the work and the conditions under which the employee will be employed;
- the lines of reporting and levels of responsibility to other employees and/or departments;
- new tasks or responsibilities that a new employee will need to undertake given changed circumstances in the business (for example ability to use a computerised payroll administration due to a change from a manual system); and
- how the job contributes to meeting your business goals/plans and what job outcomes are needed to help you to meet those goals.
Use the Job analysis template to help you to establish the work requirements relating to a role or to identify ways that an existing role could be modified.
Questions to consider when conducting a job analysis
If you are filling an existing position, identify the knowledge, skills, experience, qualities required to do the existing job. Specifically identify the existing tasks that the departing employee is already doing. Now identify any tasks that the departing employee is doing that may not be in their job description.
Employees often undertake tasks or responsibilities because it’s convenient for them to do so (like taking business mail to the post box on their way home). If this discretionary effort is not built into the new job description, functions or tasks may be missed altogether, disrupting the way your business runs.
The business may be experiencing rapid growth so, for example, the vacant payroll clerk position may instead become a personnel officer role to cope with both payroll and staffing issues. Therefore, the old payroll officer’s job description will not be suitable.
Once you have collated all the information, you are ready to prepare the job description and selection criteria.
Once you have done the job analysis, you can use this information to develop the job/position description. This is a key document that enables you to easily compare the skills, knowledge and attributes required for the position to those of the applicant. The Job description and selection criteria template may be useful here.
Skills: the levels of proficiency required to perform a particular task.
Knowledge: the actual or procedural information necessary to successfully complete a task.
Attributes: the characteristics or traits of an individual.
Job descriptions generally have the following four key parts. Select each one to find out more.
All job descriptions typically include:
- the job title, classification/description, and a description of the skills, knowledge, and experience required. These should be written in written in clear, straightforward language;
- the type and hours of work – full time, part time or casual position and the expected hours of work;
- the name of the award or agreement that the employee will be employed under;
- the main location or worksite; include if this is likely to change from time to time;
- reporting responsibilities – to whom? (for example a manager, supervisor or mentor); and
- staff management responsibilities and the reporting requirements.
The objectives of the job should describe why the job exists and relate to the tasks required to do the job. They should be written in clear and concise language. It is important to remember that a job description represents an opportunity to sell the job and your organisation. It is often the first place a job applicant will learn about your organisation.
The description of the tasks, duties and responsibilities should:
- be as concise as possible and identify no more than 10 tasks (for example cash reconciliation, ordering stock, managing payroll administration);
- include a broad, open-ended statement to illustrate that it is not an exhaustive list of duties (for example ‘other duties within the scope of this position may be required’);
- be expressed in a logical order with each task described in a short sentence or two explaining what is to be done. Begin each description with an action word (such as ‘manage’ or ‘coordinate’) – this allows employees to know what is required;
- be accompanied (where possible) by appropriate measures. This might include statements such as ‘coordinate stock control to ensure that weekly stock levels are adequate at all times’; and
- identify any specialist tools, software or equipment that might need to be used (for example; Access database software, welding machine, espresso coffee machine).
The selection criteria are the requirements of the job that you will use to adequately and fairly assess the suitability of applicants during selection. Selection criteria can include both essential and desirable criteria.
Essential criteria are the elements that the job absolutely requires, for example certain skills, knowledge, attributes and qualifications or licenses (eg trade certificate, driver’s license).
Desirable criteria are things you would like your ideal applicant to have, over and above what is essential to do the job (for example; extra experience, post trade qualifications, specific driver’s licenses).
The successful applicant should have all of the essential criteria. The desirable criteria may be helpful to distinguish between competitive applicants who satisfy the essential criteria. Check out the Job description and selection criteria template if you haven't already.
If none of your job applicants meet the essential criteria, you should go back to the job description to see if you have realistic expectations. You may need to consider training applicants, training the staff you have, re-designing the job or engaging labour hire or recruitment companies to find the right employee.
Prior to advertising your vacancy, you need to determine the application method you wish to use and how you will assess the applicants.
In your advertisement, you need to clearly outline the application process you will use to short-list the best applicants. You can ask them to do one or a combination of the following things:
- submit curriculum vitae (CV) or resume;
- prepare an application letter (provide guidance on page limits);
- complete a statement addressing the selection criteria;
- provide a portfolio of work samples; and
- complete a job application form (provided by you).
Check out the Assessment methods information sheet for some common assessment methods suitable for small to medium sized businesses.
Applicants appreciate employers who inform them that they have received their applications and advise them about any further process to be undertaken. This can be done in writing, over the phone or by email.
If you choose to respond in writing, the Acknowledgment of application letter can assist you to write letters of response to your applicants.
Advertising the vacancy
Finding the right employee depends a great deal on how and where the job is advertised. Just like any other advertising or promotion, you’ll want a return for your investment. It makes sense to put your advertisement to work where it will benefit you most.
There are some principles you should be aware of when advertising vacancies. They include, but are not limited to the following:
- there must be a real vacancy to fill. If there is no real job, do not advertise as if there were;
- the job advertisement must not be discriminatory;
- your advertisement should be realistic and honest;
- do not make promises that you aren’t going to keep; and
- make sure you identify a contact person that applicants can contact for further information or a copy of the job description.
Have a look at Advertise a job for some examples of what to include in a job advertisement.
Keep in mind that the person you are looking for may already be working in your business. Sometimes it is beneficial to recruit from within. It sends a message to other staff that opportunities for promotion or multi-skilling are available in your business.
Selection is the process of choosing the best available candidate to fill your position. Once you have short listed your best applicants you should decide the method of assessing their suitability.
Depending on the nature of the job, a formal or informal interview might be best. You may wish to have applicants undertake a practical test to determine if they have the skills needed for the job.
It is important to be consistent in your assessment of each applicant to ensure the process is fair and non-discriminatory, and that you can properly compare each applicant’s skills, abilities and knowledge.
It is also helpful to ask all applicants for professional referees, as speaking with previous employers can provide you with insight into an applicant’s previous work experience and performance.
Interview questions should be based on the skills, knowledge and experience required for the job. Ask questions that relate to:
- the type of work the applicant has performed previously;
- how they obtained the skills and experience necessary for the position; and
- the applicant’s knowledge and training relevant to the job.
Do not ask personal questions, or questions that do not relate directly to the person's skills, experience or knowledge or ability to do the job.
It's not just the applicants who need to prepare for an interview – you do too. To make sure you’re ready, check out the Employer interview preparation checklist.
To help keep a record of how each applicant goes in the interview, you can use the Interview record form. That way you’ll have an easy reference to compare suitable applicants later.
When you have made your decision, you should first notify the successful applicant with your offer of employment, before notifying unsuccessful applicants. If your first choice declines the position, you may choose to offer the position to the next most suitable candidate.
A letter of appointment will make the offer of employment official. Appointing the successful applicant includes the following steps.
- Write and send an appointment letter to formalise the appointment of the successful applicant, using the Letter of offer template if you wish. The Letter to unsuccessful applicants template will help you write your letters to the other applicants.
- Prepare for the arrival of the new employee.
- Arrange and conduct an induction. Check out the Induction checklist and the Induction needs of different groups information sheet to help you with the induction process.
- Schedule time for an initial feedback session to see how your new employee is settling in.