What is going on in the SA job market?

We all know what happened in 2020 – COVID-19 hit, and it hit the workplace and employment market hard.

In April 2020 Seek stated that “job ads crashed by 64% compared to the previous year. However, by November 2020 there was a 1% rise in comparison to November in 2019.” The decrease in advertised jobs happened swiftly, but so did the increase, as many organisations expanded to pre-covid sizes, and in some cases increased, as they adapted and grew.

Job ads in Hospitality & Tourism were up 28% year-on-year in November while in Healthcare & Medical they were up by 9.1%. The Trades & Services industry was also a strong contributor to market growth with an increase in job ads of 34.5% year-on year.

Job ads may be increasing, but these ads are now attracting fewer applications.

Seek stated that “in some instances, industries with customer-facing roles saw a drop in application volume of up to 30% year-on-year. While the number of people viewing ads was equal to the same time the previous year, the overall number that went on to apply was 15% lower.”

As employers, we expect that candidates should be enthusiastic to apply for our roles, but in reality, there has been a decline in applications. This doesn’t seem right, particularly when we look at SA unemployment figures being around the highest in the country. But there’s no doubt employers are finding that jobs are difficult to fill, with many having independently advertised their roles without success.

With the irregular and sporadic opening and closing of state boarders, employers are hesitant to interview candidates living interstate in case they aren’t able to move to Adelaide. The national border closure also removes the opportunity of immigrants increasing the local candidate pool.

Job security is now a major priority

There is a hesitancy in the job market, and people feel reluctant about moving jobs and sacrificing their security, even if they would have previously been open to moving.

This means that for people to consider making a move, organisations must:

  • Provide and highlight the opportunities beyond the role.
  • Communicate with candidates and be transparent in their process.
  • Discuss where the business is going and the plans for growth to give confidence about the longevity of the business.

Make recruitment a smooth, efficient process

In this market, employers need to keep the process simple and communicate clearly with candidates. Don’t overwhelm candidates with a multitude of additional steps and processes or make it too difficult to progress. Applicants who are tentative to move will be deterred if they’re asked to jump through a number of hoops.

Be an employer people want to work for

Many people have assessed what’s important to them as a result of 2020, and could be looking for less hours, the ability to work from home, or simply to work in a nice environment with nice people. This is a very personal choice, and one that is important to consider when you’re trying to attract people to the business.

For example, one of our clients recently undertook a survey of their staff – approx.  1/3 wanted to work from home, 1/3 want to work from the office and 1/3 want to have a combination. By working with this knowledge, the employer was able to create a flexible routine that all staff could adapt to their choosing, keeping existing staff satisfied and attracting new staff looking for this flexibility.


The increase in job ads is certainly a positive sign in Australia’s steps to recovery. But when it comes to attracting new staff members, the significance of COVID-19’s impact on Australians’ working lives cannot be underestimated.

As we move through 2021, considering all of the above factors will be the key to ensuring a successful recruitment strategy!


Written by Joanne Blackman, Director of Blackman Mansfield Recruitment.