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Navigating New Zealand's Hiring Trends and Challenges

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After having closed borders for two years, NZ, like many other countries, is now facing a talent shortage. HR and recruitment professionals are having to become creative to find and attract talent. 

We spoke with Marley Monk, Xref’s New Zealand Country Manager as she uncovers the New Zealand hiring trends that are taking hold as the country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Marley and her team have successfully onboarded close to 200 clients in the New Zealand market. She offers real customer success stories on why automated reference checks are helping many New Zealand organisations. 

What Challenges are NZ Recruiters Facing? Black text on grey background

What Challenges are NZ Recruiters Facing?

The biggest trend in terms of key recruitment challenges that the New Zealand market is facing is the talent shortage. After two years of border closures and restricted immigration, Marley explains that NZ recruiters and hiring managers “are having to get creative with sourcing, finding and generating talent. We're seeing that the whole workforce environment has changed."

Most people are in a hybrid working environment and that's here to stay.

Skills shortages and tight talent pools mean Human Resources teams are having to get creative about where they source talent from. There is an increasing focus on compliance and ensuring that the recruitment process is robust. This is because meeting candidates in person is getting harder and harder. Remote work is on the rise. 

Equally though, Marley explains, being compliant can’t be too time-consuming.

“We've got the talent shortage market, that means your hiring process also has to be efficient. It can't be too arduous and it can't be too much.”

If so, you risk losing the best talent. 

As such, NZ recruiting trends are focusing on the fine balance between compliance and candidate experience. To illustrate, Marley shared with us a story from a customer who avoided a potentially wrong hire because they trusted Xref. 

In the transport logistics space, involving the supply chain of goods a customer relied on Xref’s fraud detection capability. “Our system identified a case of potential fraud of someone who would potentially be working on a floor with high-value goods.”

The customer was able to identify that a candidate was looking like being hired into an environment where potential theft is a risk.

“Xref’s suspicious activity feature meant that the customer could diver deeper into the risk and if need be, actually stop that hire. It gives the customer the power to make informed decisions at the time of hire, or even beforehand, rather than retrospectively.” 
Interesting Findings from Automated Reference Checks: white text on dark purple background

Interesting Findings from Automated Reference Checks

When speaking about common questions for automated reference checks, Marley broke down her customers into two categories - those who have used automated reference checks before and those who have not. 

Positive Sentiment

black text on grey background: A referee spends triple the amount of time on an automated reference check, compared to phone checks resulting in 60% more insights.

A common question we hear from potential or new customers is “How do I know what the referee feels when I can’t hear their tone of voice? 

“For those who have not experienced automated reference checking, one of the key concerns is not hearing tone of voice.”

Because Xref gives referees the ability to complete a reference check outside of working hours, Marley explains“we found approximately triple the amount of time is spent by a referee on producing that feedback [for an automated check versus over the phone]. This is because the referee can complete the check at a time that suits them, not when it suits the recruiter.

“As a result, we end up with about 60% more insights.”

“Some clients have even reported to me that the feedback that they've gotten is quite significantly most substantial than over the phone. So they don't need to probe on certain areas. What they're surprised with is that it's not just all the positive insights, but there's everything in between, including constructive insights.”

Marley points out,

“It’s what we don't hear, that we investigate.”

What she means here is that when referees give limited responses to an automated reference check, this can mean that they are not overly engaged with the candidate or don’t have enough information to shed light. When people have good insights and feelings about someone else, they tend to share detail. When there isn’t much good to share, they tend not to say much at all. It’s like the old saying ‘If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.’

This is exactly what Xref has in mind when it shares the data from the ‘sentiment analysis’. The higher the word count on a completed reference report, the more positive a referee was likely to be about the candidate.

Additionally, customers are more than welcome to call a referee once a completed reference check has been reported to seek clarity on certain points or to ask follow-up questions.

Data-Driven Insights Securely Protected

For those who have used automated reference checking previously, a common question Xref gets asked is “How can I ensure the data of my candidates is protected?”

When tech is involved, you need to be certain your information is safe. Xref offers multi-factor authentication, so your data is securely protected. 

“A lot of people are aware of the benefits of automated reference checking, from the time it saves to the improvement of content, but what they don’t know is the robustness of the system and the validity behind [automated] reference checking.”

Automated reference checking helps reduce unconscious bias and as discussed previously, Xref’s suspicious activity detection helps reduce the opportunity for candidates to give fraudulent references. 

Name One Key Feature of Xref that can Help NZ Recruiters

White text on purple bakground - pie graph on left, text on right. Text reads: With a 54% opt-in rate, Xref's People Search talent pool helped fill some of the hardest to place roles.

With the talent shortage making hiring hard, we asked Marley if she could recommend one thing to help make recruiters' and HR teams’ lives easier. 

“I think a lot of people aren't aware that we have built into the system a function called People Search, which gives referees the ability to opt-in to hear about future work opportunities with your organisation after they've provided a reference.”

People Search creates a pool of talent who have all heard about your organisation previously because they have given a reference for a candidate who wanted to work for you. People Search has been quite successful so far. 

“We have an opt-in rate of about 50%,”

“So that tells us that there is a really big market out there of people who sit between those who are actively applying for roles to those who are currently employed and therefore passive, yet potentially interested in working for your business.”

Marley continues,

“I have a client, again in the blue-collar, construction space who turned on People Search and, in their first week the result was a 54% opt-in rate! Some of the hardest-to-place roles were filled by people who were from that 54% who opted in.” 

It’s very positive to see people coming into a business from other, more non-traditional methods of sourcing talent. Creative NZ recruiters can tap into referees as potential candidates to feed their talent funnels both in these challenging times and as the market begins to pick up again.

Concluding Thoughts

While the battle for talent might be tight, these challenges aren’t exclusive to the New Zealand job market. It’s hoped that when NZ reopens to all tourists and Visa holders in August 2022, this will help to fill many roles, including in those hard-to-fill areas such as construction, engineering, trades, healthcare and tech.

Marley’s real customer success stories on why automated reference checks are helping many New Zealand organisations show that she and her team understand the unique nature of the NZ recruitment market. 

Watch the whole interview with Marley here and find out more about how Xref is supporting NZ recruiters to find and secure the best talent.

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