The State of Australian and New Zealand Recruitment: 2019

What will 2019 hold for the recruitment industry? More than 2,000 industry professionals worldwide weighed in with their thoughts on the top priorities, challenges, and issues that will be top of mind in the coming year. Here’s a look at what 262 Australian and New Zealand recruitment leaders had to say.

Recruitment Industry Outlook

Optimism runs high in the recruitment industry for Australia and New Zealand. Expectations for revenue, budgets, investments, and placements in 2019 are all higher than they were heading into 2018.

How do you expect revenue to change in 2019?

Most respondents anticipate an increase in 2019 revenue versus 2018. Just 2 percent of respondents expect to see revenue decrease in the year ahead.

A Positive Outlook
Learn more about the industry’s outlook for 2019.

Recruitment professionals say they expect to see temporary placements increase in 2019. Also on the rise? Operating budgets, investments in technology, and efforts to increase workers’ skills through education and training. Only the percentage of business done through VMS was expected to remain the same.

How do you expect the following to change in 2019?

Less than 7 percent of respondents expect to see decreases in temp placements, tech spending, efforts to reskill workers, and VMS business.

Reskilling on the Rise
See why reskilling workers will be top of mind in 2019.

What’s your business’ primary growth strategy?

Organic growth is the industry’s primary growth strategy in 2019. Only 7 percent say they expect to grow by acquiring new companies and even fewer (3 percent) expect to be acquired.

Build, Buy, or Exit?
Discover how industry leaders are thinking about their strategic growth options.

Top Priorities for Recruitment Professionals

Aside from the obvious—driving top-line revenue growth and increasing profitability—respondents say they’ll be firmly focused on candidates in 2019. Other priorities on which they’ll focus? Embracing digital transformation to improve their operations, developing their employment brand and enhancing their marketing strategies, and working on how they manage relationships with clients.

What are your top priorities for 2019?

Candidates will matter most in 2019, with sourcing (54 percent) and candidate engagement (41 percent) leading the pack. Beyond candidates, take a look at some other notable priorities.

More Top Priorities
See what your peers have to say about their top priorities for 2019.

Top Challenges for Recruitment Professionals

While optimism abounds, the outlook’s not all rosy. From hiring and operational challenges to the issues macroeconomic and political shifts present, there are plenty of tricky problems recruitment industry pros will have to tackle in 2019.

What are your top hiring challenges for 2019?

Beyond the perennial skills shortage, recruitment leaders grapple with how to get employers to increase candidate pay rates and how to navigate the gig economy.

More Top Challenges
Discover the macroeconomic and political challenges your peers say they’re up against in the year ahead.

What are your top operational challenges for 2019?

Pricing pressure and margin compression are always big challenges, but respondents say the top operational challenge they’ll face is how to embrace digital transformation to improve operations.

More Top Challenges
Learn more about the operational challenges your peers say they’ll face in 2019.

What are your top macroeconomic and political challenges for 2019?

If you’re feeling a bit skittish when it comes to future growth amidst an uncertain economy, you’re not alone. But the job market’s healthy and unemployment rates reflect that, which explains why many respondents say low unemployment is the top challenge for the year ahead.

More Top Challenges
Discover the macroeconomic and political challenges your peers say they’re up against in the year ahead.

In Australia and New Zealand, respondents found the skills shortage, embracing digital transformation, and the uncertainty over the economy and growth as the top challenges to tackle in 2019. Australia and New Zealand agencies were also more likely to view legislative changes as a challenge over firms in North America and Europe. This should come as no surprise as in Australia the 457 visa program restrictions are something recruiters are watching keenly.

Opportunities or Obstacles?

Digital transformation. The globalization of business. The increased mobility of talent. Online talent platforms. Disruptive forces are impacting the recruitment industry, all of which pose the question, “Are these opportunities or are they obstacles?”

Will digital transformation help or hurt your business?

Respondents overwhelmingly believe digital transformation—the integration of technology into all areas of business for the purposes of improving operations and the way companies deliver value to customers—will be a benefit to their business.

More on Digital Transformation
See how recruitment professionals rate their understanding of AI and machine learning.

Thanks to the globalization of business and advancements in technology, workers are more mobile than ever. Increasingly, companies can hire qualified candidates beyond their local area and get the best people for the job. So is this an opportunity for the recruitment industry or a bigger challenge?

Do globalization and the increased mobility of talent pose a challenge or an opportunity?

Most respondents say globalization and the increased mobility of talent is an opportunity for their business.

Recruiting Beyond Borders
Learn more about how the globalization of business and the increased mobility of talent is impacting the recruitment industry.

With the emergence of online talent platforms, questions have swirled in the global recruitment sector. Will these disruptive businesses ultimately present an opportunity amidst the rise of the gig economy? Or will they pose an existential threat to the industry?

Are online talent platforms making recruiting for sought-after roles easier or harder?

The jury’s out on whether online talent platforms are helping to make things easier, but sentiment signs point to a belief that they’ll have a more helpful than harmful impact.

Helpful or Harmful?
Explore how recruitment professionals feel about the rise of online talent platforms.

United or Divided?

Many factors influence the Australian and New Zealand recruitment industry. Beyond the industry’s outlook for the year ahead, here’s a look at how recruitment professionals feel about key topics that could influence the ways in which business gets done in 2019.

Do you agree or disagree with the following topics?

Respondents overwhelmingly agree: recruitment agencies must embrace digital transformation, reskilling candidates is critical, and employers must accelerate pay increases. See where respondents are united and divided.

More on the Industry’s Sentiment
Get a pulse on how recruitment professionals feels about key factors impacting the industry.

Learning and Development ?

Ongoing learning is crucial for recruitment industry professionals. See how respondents rate their understanding of machine learning and artificial intelligence, the topics on which they think their peers need more training, and the most interesting trends about which they’d like to continue learning.

How would you rate your understanding of machine learning and artificial intelligence?

Most respondents give themselves average marks when it comes to their understanding of machine learning and artificial intelligence within recruitment.

More on Artificial Intelligence
Learn more about digital transformation and artificial intelligence in the recruitment industry.

The recruitment industry is continually changing, which means professionals must constantly keep up with new topics and learn new skills. Respondents believe their fellow recruitment industry professionals would benefit from having additional training on these topics.

Social media 15%
Search engine optimization 6%
Use of technology to automate manual processes 16%
Staffing/recruitment software (CRM, VMS, etc.) 9%
Data protection and security 6%
Staffing/recruitment marketing 7%
Client management and relationship building 21%
Candidate screening and selection 11%
Candidate nurturing and redeployment 6%
Other 2%

What is the top area your in which your peers need the most training and development?

Respondents think fellow industry professionals would benefit most by having additional training on how to use technology to automate manual processes, social media, and how to manage clients and build relationships.

More on Artificial Intelligence
Learn more about artificial intelligence in the recruitment industry.

What’s the most interesting industry trend you’re following?

In recruitment, it’s important to stay current on trends impacting the industry as well as trends that are influencing your clients’ businesses and the candidates you’re working to recruit. We asked respondents to share the most interesting industry trends they’re actively following.

Most commonly, respondents say they’re interested in artificial intelligence and how it relates to automation and the recruitment industry. The second most common responses relate to social media and how to leverage it for opportunities within recruitment. Other common responses include topics like digital marketing, the gig/freelance economy, and VMS.

Use of AI generally and use of AI in recruitment, specifically.

survey respondent

AI assisted recruitment. How to break away from traditional methods.

survey respondent

Technology to automate manual processes that are time-consuming.

survey respondent

Is AI is going to be a real issue/influencer in the coming years for recruitment?

survey respondent


AI and digital tools to source and engage candidates and deliver candidates to clients faster than the competition.

survey respondent


Embracing AI and other technological advances and changing our approach to benefit from these - otherwise we will be left behind.

survey respondent

Understanding and identifying top Millennial candidates psychologically.

survey respondent

Employer branding. Is it a load of spin or is there substance to it? Increasingly, candidate seeks employers whose values and culture align.

survey respondent

Video recruitment processes & AI recruitment.

survey respondent

Maximizing Facebook as a recruitment tool.

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What trends would you like to learn more about? Let us know and we’ll share relevant insights here on the GRID.

Learn more about the topics recruitment professionals say will influence the industry in 2019. Visit the insights and spotlights sections here on the GRID.