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AWX Executive: How Referrals and Talent Pools Help Regional Recruiters Thrive

Xref met with Yunaldi Putra, Scientific Business Development Specialist with AWX Executive who shared with us how the current talent shortage market is impacting regional areas.

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Xref is a really helpful platform not just for agencies like mine but also for internal recruitment. The turnaround is quite quick. In this climate, we need reference checks completed as soon as possible.


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Average hours taken to return completed references


Opt-in rate to be considered for future roles

Recently, Xref met with Yunaldi Putra, Scientific Business Development Specialist with AWX Executive who shared with us the challenges the current talent shortage market is having on regional areas. 

Yunaldi oversees scientific resources across Australia at AWX Executive, specialising in placing degree-qualified staff in a range of roles such as: Quality Managers, Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QA/QC), Technical Officers, Microbiologists, Chemists, Research and Development (RnD), Scientific Sales, Agricultural Science, Mining, Clinical Research, Work Health and Safety (WHS), Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) and laboratory-based and environmental roles more broadly.

The Executive team of AWX launched in February 2021, as part of the larger PeopleIn group. Yunaldi says it’s going really well. With a mix of great new clients and existing relationships, the team are hitting three or four times above targets. 

When we spoke, Yunaldi shared how solutions like Xref help to speed up recruitment, to secure top talent first and fast. 

People Search, Xref’s talent pool feature, has proved especially beneficial for introductions to reduce cold calling and improve relationships between the recruitment agency and those companies looking for talent. 

Here’s what he shared: 

We’ve heard a lot about the talent shortage landscape. How are you finding the market now? 

The candidate market at the moment is very competitive. Some are being asked to come back to the office, but those people may be happy at home so they need to look for a new job. Or for others, now might not be quite the right time for a change.

However, it's not just the candidates but also the environment. We need to make sure we adapt to deliver for our clients. And it is doable. For example, I have added 75 new contractors within six months to one business and I keep growing them. 

With remote hiring on the rise, where do you find new talent? 

I look after a temporary and permanent desk so my strategy is to reach out to universities, to look for someone with a Bachelor’s, Master’s degree or PhD. My strategy is to engage with each university’s career hub. 

I really know the market. I used to teach at the universities here in Queensland so they know me when I reach out and come back to me.  I regularly get approached through LinkedIn, because people want to connect due to the science background. 

We have a talent pool, rely heavily on client referrals and support internal movement. Working in a lot of regional environments means talent is hard to come by, so internal job changing is common, especially among mining clients. 

Are you finding there is a particular trend towards certain roles? 

Some of the candidates are happy with a contract role because money-wise it’s a good move for them. Others prefer permanent. In my position, it’s about a 50/50 split. Contracts allow candidates to try one position or company and then move on to something else but then the risk is you can lose your job quickly if you are casual. 

Others prefer permanent because of the security and work/life balance. Permanent roles are far more likely to offer hybrid opportunities and I find hybrid opportunities are less common in contract positions. This is mostly because the contract positions I work with involve the candidate being in an office or lab. Plus perks and benefits are always an advantage that permanent positions have those contract roles tend not to. 

How long have you been using Xref?

About 6 months. Xref is so much better than the previous platform that we used to use. Xref looks great and is really easy to use. And the integration with JobAdder is amazing. 

Are there any particular features of Xref that stand out?

People Search, the talent pool feature. Having opt-ins is really helpful from a new business perspective. With my business unit, we need new clients and new roles all the time, so being able to see who is open for work or what roles they are interested in, helps. 

Referees who opt-in know that they have done so, so you have familiarity. It’s easy to explain how you saw a candidate was open to a role. 

In one particular instance, we even approached a company that admitted they don't have an agency as yet, but it was the right time. This type of thing is really useful in regional areas. We can meet the relevant people like Line Managers and HR Managers and we get through the onboarding process so that when the time is right for hiring, we as the agency are already set up.

Also bulk recruitment. If you have heaps of roles, it can be easy to get multiple reference checks out at once to save time, save energy. Similarly, for the candidate, it is really good because they can give multiple referees. 

Sometimes I find a particular referee nominated might not have much to say or if it's a junior candidate they might not have many relevant referees so selecting multiple referees helps to move the process along faster. I face this frequently because I'm hiring young scientists so a cafe owner who managed them during their part-time job might not be relevant. I find I am looking for perhaps a person at university to give a reference.

What are some benefits you and your team see from using Xref?

Getting answers from clients is so much easier! Normally, you call a client and get specific questions from those clients about what they want to know about a candidate. it can be hard to understand why they ask a particular question sometimes. But using the question list to create templates, we can find additional information that is very useful.  I can ask the specific question my client wants to ask, but I can also source other relevant questions.

Similarly, with the rest of the team focusing on other areas like business support, engineering, trades, infrastructure and C-suite, the same questions aren't always relevant so we can have role-specific surveys that provide targeted insights. 

Second of all, being able to build your talent pool by having referees opt-in to be contacted is really good as well. Because our desk is 360 degrees, the talent pool is useful when it comes to finding a new business 

The other thing is the ability to add more referees in case one isn't responsive.

When it comes to contacting the referees - you don't have to call! If you miss them that reference could give their feedback in the nighttime, whereas you can't call them after 5pm. You feel guilty if you call them after five. 

But with Xref, they can give their reference whenever they are ready at home if they can't do that at work. They can check their email or log in after dinner.

Before you used Xref, how long did it take you previously to collect a reference?

We used a different platform previously and that process probably took three days. As you know, some people are quite busy and the more senior the role we are hiring for, usually the referees are even more senior. So their time is super limited. 

Although it only takes a few minutes to complete the requested information, it takes time for them to get back to us. But with Xref, we can see if an application is still pending and we can reach out to the candidate to get them to nudge their referee. Let them know we need to get this moving as soon as possible. Because without a reference, we can't progress your applications to offer.

Have you had any feedback from your candidates or clients about the process?

Yeah, I have. They found it really, really helpful for them as well - it's more about saving their time.

Please describe Xref and the impact it has made on your business.

Xref is a really helpful platform not just for agencies like mine but also for internal recruitment. The turnaround is quite quick. In this climate, we need reference checks completed as soon as possible. We risk losing candidates to competitors or to other positions that the candidate might have applied for if the process is slow. So it's all about time.

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