Good people are easy to find, or are they?

By Michael Arnold.

Given the recent relative downsizing of the mining industry, it is our experience that there is something of a widespread perception that it is now easy to find staff for historically hard to fill roles, and that there “must be lots of good people around looking for a job”.  It is true to say that there are high calibre job seekers active in the employment market, however it is our experience that it remains a challenging exercise for a mining company to engage someone who can be described as the perfect person or fit for an important role.

But why is this so?

The pool of potential candidates that meet a brief very well is often limited, whether within a bull or bear employment market.  Perceptions that “there must be a lot of good people around” can often lead to inflated expectations for those looking to hire, and unrealistic expectations that a mythical candidate exists who ticks every box, is unemployed and just waiting around to apply.  This can result in a skewed effect on how a pool of candidates is assessed and employment decisions are made, or not made for that matter.  Hitting the bulls-eye could be more than achievable, until confusion on what the bulls-eye looks like sets in.  We have experienced and heard more than a few stories of strong candidates who essentially meet the brief very well, being passed over when the same candidates would have been deemed a perfect fit 2 years ago.

Secondly, there is often reluctance from high calibre, employed candidates to take a risk in an uncertain mining environment and leave the relative safety of their current employer and position for a new role.  In an industry where everyone knows someone who has reluctantly been made redundant, the fear of being last one on, first one off, can be very real.  Junior gold and iron ore miners may have an operation with huge potential and the career opportunity of a life-time to sell to the right candidate, but with well publicised mine closures and widespread downsizing it can be challenging to sell the opportunity to a relevant candidate working with a ‘blue chip’ miner.

It is not uncommon for those not entirely happy in their current position to adopt a mindset of “better the devil you know”, valuing job security over job satisfaction and thereby closing themselves to opportunity.  Another example of the effects of the VUCA world!

So what’s the good news?

The good news is that while it may not necessarily be much easier to engage high calibre talent for important roles under the current market conditions, it is not necessarily harder than it once was either.  Enacting a strategic and tailored approach to candidate identification and engagement, as well as adopting a realistic view of the potential candidate pool for a given role will go a long way to ensuring smart and informed employment decision making and successful outcomes.  As always, please feel free to get in touch if you’d like to discuss further…..