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Employers' Recruitment Insights

COVID-19 Update

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the jobs market. There will be greater competition for jobs in coming months, and there will also likely be fewer advertised positions.

In these conditions, it is more important than ever to know what employers want, and how to demonstrate your suitability. Some key things to consider during this time are:

  • • If you are looking for a job, try to keep an open mind and be as flexible as possible. For example, don’t restrict your search to familiar industries. Consider industries and sectors that currently need more workers like transport and logistics, some segments of retail and wholesale trade, health care and some manufacturing industries.

  • • Continue to check online recruitment websites, frequently, as these will always be used by employers. Check as many recruitment sites as you can, as well as checking the websites of big employers, as many of these only advertise jobs on their own websites.

  • • Be proactive in seeking employment by approaching employers directly (e.g. by email or by phone), checking social media, including Jobs Groups on Facebook, and reaching out through your network of family and friends.

  • • When speaking with employers, be as flexible as possible with your availability and highlight your transferable skills and experience. Employers will be looking for reliable and flexible workers, with good communication skills who can learn new tasks quickly and adapt to new working environments. If you can, give examples from your work history which highlight these skills.

  • • Take time to update your résumé and cover letters. Ensure they are up-to-date, accurate and don’t contain spelling mistakes.

It can be challenging to identify the skills you have built in past jobs and understand how this experience equips you to work in other jobs you may not have considered. Skills Match is a career exploration feature on the Job Outlook website designed to help you identify your skills, and present you with new job ideas you may be able to transfer these skills into.

During this time, also consider taking the opportunity to upskill to keep up with employer expectations and build your confidence and competitiveness. While you may need to compromise in the short-term, every job will help you gain new skills and experiences.

For more insights on finding work, visit the COVID-19 Advice and Support for Job Seekers page, with new resources, such as the Finding Work in the Australian Jobs Market factsheet and regularly updated data on in demand jobs.

Survey of Employers’ Recruitment Experiences

Finding a job can be hard. It is difficult to know what employers want and where they are searching. To try to answer those questions, the National Skills Commission speaks to over 10,000 employers each year from around Australia. The survey collects information about how employers recruit and what they are looking for in applicants, identifying practical ways job seekers can better connect with employment opportunities.

A summary of the 2019 results are available in the following links:

Previous results:

Below, you can find advice for all job seekers, as well as specific advice for groups including youth, mature age workers, and retrenched workers.

For more information about the survey or any of the resources below, please call 1800 059 439 or email employmentpathwaysanalysis@skillscommission.gov.au.

What employers want

Employers are looking for the specific combination of qualifications, skills and experience needed by their business. However, there are several things employers commonly look for:

  • • Education and training: work in Australia is becoming more skilled, and around 90 per cent of new jobs in the future will require a Vocational Education and Training (VET) or university qualification.

  • • Employability skills: the top skills sought by employers are communication skills, team work, problem solving ability, organisational skills, and creativity and initiative.

  • • Experience: workplace experience gives you a foot in the door, and contacts and referees. Options include work experience placements, part-time or casual jobs, temporary or contract jobs, apprenticeships or traineeships, internships and volunteering.

Where to find a job

Infographic showing methods used by employers. The first panel shows recruitment websites and jobs boards used by 53% of employers with vacancies, word of mouth by 31%, Recruitment agency/government employment services by 13%, Social Media by 14%, Newspaper by 8% and approached by job seeker by12%

Source: Survey of Employers' Recruitment Experiences, 2019

Although many jobs are advertised on recruitment websites and jobs boards (53 per cent), there are other methods that are popular with employers including word of mouth (31 per cent), recruitment agencies and government employment services (13 per cent), social media (14 per cent), newspapers (8 per cent) and by being approached directly by a job seeker (12 per cent). Some employers may use more than one recruitment method.

Employers’ top three tips

  • 1. You need an excellent résumé and job application that is short, gives examples and is free from spelling and grammatical errors.

  • 2. Every job is unique, and your approach to each application should be tailored. Research the business and explain how your skills make you the right fit for that role.

  • 3. Prepare for the interview by practicing interview questions, preparing some questions about the job and business, explain what skills you will bring to the job, and plan what you will wear.

Additional resources:

Presentations for career advisors

Youth and students

Occupation profiles

Mature age

Workers facing retrenchment


Recruitment perceptions and trends

Other useful research and information

Posters for job seekers

The National Skills Commission produces a range of posters for job seekers. For printable copies, please click the link below:

Supporting data

Employment Projections

Where will the jobs be in the future? The National Skills Commission projects employment growth over the next five years by region, industry, and occupation.

Vacancy Report

Online job advertising levels and trends by region, occupation and skill level are detailed in the monthly vacancy report.

Employers’ Recruitment Insights

The National Skills Commission surveys businesses to monitor recruitment conditions across Australia and provide insights into what employers are looking for.

Workforce Shortages

The National Skills Commission carries out research to identify workforce shortages at the state, territory and/or national level for around 80 occupations.