Australia has one of the most diverse and highly educated workforces in the world, making it an attractive market for global expansion.
But companies looking to dip into Australia’s talent pool for the first time will need to understand the recruitment process, as well as how local laws influence the employer-employee relationship.
Learn more about how to navigate the hiring process in Australia below.
Understanding employment terms in Australia
Before hiring in Australia it’s important to understand how local requirements can impact the employment relationship. Australia’s employment laws are decidedly different from those in the U.S., offering greater emphasis on employee empowerment.
Employers in Australia are required to provide and comply with the Fair Work Information Statement, which outlines an employee’s basic rights and entitlements, discrimination policies and flexibility arrangements, along with details about business responsibilities. Failure to provide this information or comply with these requirements can lead to costly legal proceedings and penalties for an employer.
Additionally, Australia’s National Employment Standard sets the basic rights and laws for employment and specific employment terms for any position are defined by modern awards, enterprise agreements and employee contracts.
While “modern awards” sound prestigious to an American, in Australia they refer to legal documents that outline payroll in Australia, work hours, penalty rates and other requirements for workers. Modern awards generally apply to workers of a specific job type or industry, and there are more than 100 different occupation or industry awards. Most workers in Australia are covered under modern awards.
Enterprise agreements are created in collaboration between employees, employers and sometimes labor unions. The Fair Work Commission then votes on these negotiated agreements for approval. Enterprise agreements take the place of modern awards when they exceed the requirements and benefits of the awards.
An employment contract is used for employees not covered by enterprise agreements or awards, but some employers create contracts for employees that are already covered by awards or enterprise agreements.
Some basic requirements for any employment contract in Australia include:
- A full-time work week comprising 38 hours per week
- Flexible working hours offered to employees that have worked with the organization for at least 12 months
- Paid annual leave for all full-time employees (including other forms of leave, like bereavement leave, public holiday leave and paid jury duty)
- Redundancy pay up to 16 weeks and a termination notice of five weeks
Contracts can add benefits, along with detailing the terms and conditions of employment. However, employment contracts cannot remove existing benefits or anything that an employee is entitled to via awards or enterprise agreements.
Even with awards or enterprise agreements in place, it is highly recommended that you write up an international employment contract. Along with providing greater details and more specific terms, employment contracts can benefit the employer by providing more legal protections, including non-disclosure, intellectual property protections and post-employment clauses. Contracts also help to name an employee’s specific obligations and duties.
The hiring process in Australia
While specific employment laws and labor rights are different in Australia, the overall hiring process is not very dissimilar from hiring in the U.S.
Here is a step-by-step guide to help you navigate the process.
1. Identify your needs
Any recruiting process starts with evaluating your needs as an employer. Is this a newly created role, or are you replacing an employee that is leaving? Is your company growing and in need of a larger workforce?
It’s worth talking to your hiring manager to determine the company’s needs and ensure that everyone’s goals are aligned. Consider the experience, education and personal skills that you would want out of an ideal candidate.
2. Create a job posting
Once you have your needs and ideal traits figured out, you can start working on the job post.
Modern recruiting still involves posting ads on job boards, from online postings to newspaper classifieds. Depending on your line of work, you may want to focus on industry-specific job boards to speed up the process and find the right candidates.
A job posting should include:
- Wage information
- Job description and responsibilities
- Target start date
- Closing date for applications
- Contact details
- Instructions for applying
3. Consider alternate sources
Use all your resources and available platforms to identify a successful applicant pool, even social media. Local Facebook groups can help you find qualified candidates in specific areas. And you can use LinkedIn to engage with potential candidates directly without waiting for applications. About 63% of Australians have LinkedIn profiles, making it a reliable platform for finding talent.
Referrals are also integral to the process. If you have friendly connections with other employers or organizations, consider reaching out to see if they have personnel that they could recommend for the open position. Similarly, networking events provide an opportunity to connect with organizations or potential candidates directly.
4. Review CVs and applications
Where American resumés tend to follow the one-page-only rule, it’s not uncommon for Australian resumés to be two to three pages long.
Make sure that the resumé is actually relevant to the job, and keep an eye out for any keywords that you may have singled out previously. Achievements are a great place to start as they can set one candidate apart from others and give a unique look at what a person can contribute to your organization.
Other things to look for:
- Basic spelling and grammar are important for any role, but more importantly, minor spelling and grammar mistakes show a lack of attention to detail.
- While short tenures or employment gaps do not always point to problems, they should lead to further inquiry.
- Candidates who are obviously overqualified for the role may not be an ideal choice, as there is risk they will not be committed to the role if they are hired.
5. Interview candidates
Once you have narrowed down the candidates, you can begin the interview process.
Individual interview processes can vary based on the role, but the hiring manager should play some part in the interview process. And you may need to have an initial phone interview to cover non-negotiables, like work visa restrictions, compensation requirements and schedule details.
It’s also important to remember that interviews are a two-way street. While you want to find the right person for the job, the candidate wants to find a business that they want to work for. Be sure to thoroughly answer any questions the candidate asks about the company.
6. Check references
Checking an employee’s references is an important step to make sure that a candidate is reliable, capable and truthful about their skills and experience. Contact references via email or phone. Ideate specific interview questions about the candidate, their performance and their reasons for leaving or termination.
7. Make the offer
Once you have identified the top candidate, you can make the offer. If you do go the route of writing up an international employment contract, make sure that you have it ready before making the offer.
You can start with a conditional offer while you check references or commit with a verbal offer over the phone. Sending a written offer with employment details, terms and conditions is the best way to let the candidate know your decision, while managing their expectations. It is also good practice to contact any applicants for the position that were not chosen to inform them of your decision.
Hiring talent in Australia can open up new opportunities for your business, but it comes with its own challenges, especially if your company is still in the process of opening a local entity.
GEO hires workers on your behalf and assumes legal responsibility for all in-country payroll, tax, benefits and compliance regulations. With GEO, you can onboard top Australian candidates in as little as two weeks with a compliant employment contract.
Learn more about how our employer of record solution in Australia can meet your international hiring needs.