Today, we are encouraged to consider two different measures when trying to understand the true nature of Australia’s employment landscape – the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) published unemployment rate and the ANZ Job Advertisement Series. These have been well established to be the leading sources for accurate data on the health of our job market – but is using online job statistics an accurate and safe method to support decision making?
Certainly logic would have it that there should be a solid correlation between the number of job vacancies advertised online and the number of jobs available, and over time, this trend should indicate strength of the job market – if the number of job advertisements increases month on month, then this should indicate a stronger economy with job creation. However, in reality, this is a flawed hypothesis, given the range of factors that can significantly impact the number of jobs posted online.
We see a range of factors affecting online job ad numbers that do not align to the real state of the job market, these include:
- Multiple postings – Posting an online job ad is now very cost effective and easy to do. Research has also shown that ads are often reposted. This may be because a candidate has not been sourced and therefore accurately reflects a tougher market for employers but just as simply, it could be reposted to continue to build a pool of candidates or because a search has been postponed or extended.
- Dummy postings – While this is certainly not a deliberatepractice custom, we hear anecdotally of recruiters posting “dummy” ads to generate interest in their speciality field and to build their client list for future work – this may occur at a time when there are few vacancies available (e.g. When there is a weak job market). The generation of these ads is suggesting that there is a vacancy where one does not exist – and this creates the exact opposite impact to what logic would suggest.
- Multiple sourcing channels – In some cases organisations may use a number of candidate sources, including their own direct approach and recruitment partner/s, to find their candidates. Each of their suppliers may post their own advert for the role, this creating multiple adverts for the one position and incorrectly representing a higher number of vacancies than what is actually available.
- Role changes – How often have you gone to market for a role thinking we need “this” and throughout the process the brief has changed? This often requires a rewrite and a repost of a role, again something that would represent in the data as two separate vacancies when it is actually only one.
- New technologies – Whilst mainstream job boards may capture the majority of advertisements, the availability and adoption of new solutions does present a constantly evolving array of channels to source candidates – not all of which will be captured by existing reporting approaches.
- Increasing number of referrals – Our research has shown that candidate referrals are continuing to increase, with some organisations placing up to 40% of their roles via this method. More sophisticated technology solutions are supporting this outcome and will continue to improve results. However, as more roles are filled without online job advertising the validity of this method is decreased.
On the surface online jobs data should be a valid predictor of the state of the job market, however, the manner in which online jobs are posted/ utilised, along with the multiple ways candidates are sourced, all impact how accurate a picture we can obtain on the state of the job market via online job ad numbers. This is a measurement that we are therefore advising to consider cautiously and not use in isolation of other data.