Lockdown threatens Australia's job recovery as vacancies start to fall

  • Job vacancies have come off their peak as Sydney, Melbourne, and Southeast Queensland's lockdown continues, forcing many non-essential businesses to close.
  • Today's labour market has changed quickly due to COVID-19, with many industries reducing their workforce1


Australia's hiring frenzy has come to a halt, with the number of Seek ads dropping from its peak to rest around 190,000 in early August 2021. According to ABC3, the size of the New South Wales economy makes up around 35 per cent of Australia's GDP, so Sydney has a substantial share of the national economy. There is no surprise then that the downward trend in job openings coincided with Sydney plunging into their lockdown. Soon after, the Delta outbreak spread across New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland followed suit, making the economic outlook and employment environment far less certain.

With businesses closing their doors and many small to medium-sized businesses still on the financial rebound from the first round of lockdowns, it's becoming a bleak environment. Many business owners are hurting, forcing contractors and casual staff to take up a holding pattern while remaining optimistic for a turn for the better.

Despite this being a far cry from the 40,000 jobs advertised at the height of the pandemic in 2020, we are seeing an exciting trend in the number of job vacancies being advertised. There seems to be a holding pattern taking place with job advertisements bouncing between 185,000 – 190,000.

So, why have job openings on Seek hit a holding pattern?

There is no denying it. The job market is competitive and it gets more so every day. While the high number of job openings should encourage anyone looking for work in Australia, the volume of available jobs coincides with the 4.9% unemployment rate. This makes the race to the top of the shortlist even more demanding for a job seeker. To support this finding, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 30,000 more people found work within the last month2. Interestingly, the job openings only dropped by approximately 5,000, meaning there are 25,000 fresh new jobs to apply for right now!

With the unemployment rate being its lowest in a decade, you need to be creative to stand out from the hundreds of other candidates, all with similar backgrounds to you.  

As a nation, we are less concerned about the "uncertainty" of COVID-19. We know the drill now. Suppose there are locally acquired COVID-19 cases, we know that the chance of lockdown increases. Even though we know the announcement is coming, we still sit in front of the TV or listen to the radio and wait for our nation's leaders to broadcast the impending doom.

While some businesses have downsized or disappeared altogether, others have accelerated their growth. These innovative companies have pivoted, responded to the economy and the nation's needs, and reshaped their way of working. Unlike the first round of lockdowns, our workplace's IT architecture has been set up to support remote and work from home settings.

Consequently, a staggering number of individuals have fled Melbourne and Sydney to take up residence in Queensland, working from home and enabling new divisions to pop up on the Gold Coast. However, this has not been positively received by the locals, with the region falling into a rental shortage and house prices to boom. 

COVID-19 has also affected how we communicate with each other. Some roles have not even transitioned back into the office since the first lockdown. No matter how old you are, the word "Zoom" is now widely recognised. Our teams are communicating with MS Teams, Skype, and other online communication channels. Just like the rest of the world's meetings have transferred from face-to-face to online, the recruitment process has also made the change, transitioning from in-person interviews to video conferences. Despite the inconvenience of lockdowns, we are adapting to the shift. 

As a job seeker, you also need to shift towards ensuring your resume can adapt to the new technology that is taking over the jobs of entry-level human resource roles. Applicant tracking systems (ATS) don't catch COVID-19. They don't take leave or demand employment perks, such as on site parking or gym memberships. The robots can scan thousands of resumes a minute and determine the Top-10 candidates to be interviewed. If you would like to check if your resume is ATS compatible, click here for a free review.

Thousands of job seekers apply for a new job every day, but only a few make it to the shortlist.

It's not just formatting that affects your chances of securing an interview. Job seekers do not get shortlisted for interviews because they lack the right skills, experience, and knowledge for the job, or they may have the required attributes. However, their resume is full of generic, position-description type information. 

Every single job seeker can put "good communication skills" on their resume. However, what makes you unique from someone else who also adds good communication skills? No, adding "exceptional communication skills" is not going to get you the job either!

You need to demonstrate your skills – add social credibility to your resume. Perhaps you were awarded an Employee of the Month award for helping a customer in need or improved office information flow by introducing MS Teams. These specific details are going to help you to stand out from others.  

If you want to know how you can increase your chances of getting an interview call, visit The Perfect Resume team.