April 2024 – New General Manager for AUTOrecruit, state of the market, work from home and exiting difficult employees

As we continue to grow and evolve, we believe it’s essential to keep you informed of changes within our team.

Firstly, we want to inform you that our Director and Owner, Chris Fowler, will be taking some well-deserved extended leave to spend quality time with his family and indulge his passion for boating and creating lasting memories. Next month will be the 17th year that Chris has been with AUTOrecruit. Joining the business with his father, Geoff Fowler, Chris took over from Geoff following his retirement in 2011.

We wholeheartedly support Chris in this decision, recognising the importance of work-life balance and cherished moments with loved ones.

In light of this transition, we are pleased to announce that Katie Cummins, a dedicated member of our team for almost 5 years, will be stepping into the newly created role of General Manager. Katie has been an exceptional performer, consistently demonstrating her commitment to excellence and building strong relationships with our clients. Her in-depth knowledge of the market and dedication make her the ideal candidate to lead our team into the future.

Katie’s background in HR, combined with her passion for the automotive industry, uniquely positions her to excel in this role. We are confident that under Katie’s leadership, AUTOrecruit will continue to thrive, delivering the exceptional service and results you have come to expect from us.

Please join us in congratulating Katie on her well-deserved promotion! She will begin transitioning into her new role gradually over the coming weeks and will be fully assuming her responsibilities starting next month. Rest assured, we remain fully committed to providing you with the highest level of service throughout this transition period and beyond.

Thank you for your continued trust and support as we embark on this exciting new chapter at AUTOrecruit. Should you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out to Katie or any member of our team.

In previous newsletters, we highlighted 40 to 60 exceptional candidates we were actively engaging with.

From now on, we’re implementing a new strategy. Instead of presenting lengthy lists, we’ll offer concise snapshots of outstanding candidates via our website, as soon as we connect with them!

So bookmark this address and check back regularly – https://autorecruit.com.au/hot-automotive-candidates/

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State of the market – candidates disappearing, staffing needs relatively consistent, counter-offers increasing.

What can we say, it’s tough out there. We’ve observed over the last few months, a very obvious retraction in candidate activity, with a slight drop in new assignments. With life returning to pre-Covid normalcy, new car stock increasing, used car values decreasing, interest rates rising, and unemployment still low, we are seeing a unique set of circumstances, almost like two tides colliding. 


We have lots of candidates looking to make a move, but very little movement in certain sectors of the market, resulting in far fewer positions becoming available.

That would normally lead you to believe that with lots of people looking and limited roles available, applications should be quite strong. Well, yes and no. Cost of living considerations are featuring more prominently in the decision-making process. 


We’ve seen candidates offered packages far superior to anything we’ve previously seen for roles requiring relocation, only to be unable to follow through with the position, due either to a lack of suitable accommodation, or the price of accommodation. Ok, so then maybe people are looking to relocate to areas that are less costly to live. Nope, that’s not happening either. Generally, the candidates based in areas with a high cost of living, typically have a higher level of earning. So, whilst someone in Melbourne may be very keen to relocate to Queensland, the typical remuneration is much lower. In some cases the disparity in remuneration is huge. Which, depending on who you ask, means someone is either overpaid, or underpaid.

With application rates falling, and recruitment turning to more proactive means to source suitable candidates, the amount of Seek ads being placed has fallen dramatically since 2018. As part of our monitoring of the market, we have recorded the amount of ads automotive recruiters have on Seek weekly, since 2014. In the January 2018 quarter, the average weekly number of ads listed by automotive recruiters on Seek was 200, in 2024 it has fallen to 60!


This is not at all surprising. Advertising is only effective if people are looking, and with less people monitoring the traditional advertising spaces, attention has been forced to shift to alternative candidate attraction strategies. This does not mean advertising does not have its uses, just that it appears to have become less effective over time.

There are still candidates out there, particularly in the middle to senior level space. However, with mobility in this space being quite low, and the motivations for a job change being somewhat different now (travel time, location, cost of living, lifestyle, hybrid work from home etc), candidates have become very picky.

Now if you are fortunate enough to find a candidate that ticks all your boxes and is perfect for your needs, the next hurdle is getting them out of their current workplace. Counter-offers for candidates have gone through the roof, with some big increases being seen to retain strong performers. If the candidate’s reason for leaving is purely financial, this can be effective at tucking them back in. It can still be effective if their reasons are partly based on financial considerations, but sometimes you are not getting the real story. Whilst an increase in remuneration may settle them temporarily, if the underlying issues are not addressed, 80% of people who accept a counter offer, will leave their employer within 6 months. 

Counter-offers rarely solve problems in the long term and are generally just the path of least resistance for both parties. 

If you have a recruitment need, you can always talk with us for a no-nonsense overview on what we are seeing in the market, relevant to your particular situation, as every employer is different!

Dismissing an employee who refused to return to the office was unfair, rules FWC

The Fair Work Commission has awarded compensation to an employee who was sacked for refusing to give up her decade-long work-from-home arrangement.

The right way to manage return-to-office mandates has been a significant debate among employers in the wake of the pandemic.

In October last year, AHRI’s Hybrid & Flexible Working Practices in Australian Workplaces report revealed that mandated office days increased by 11 percentage points from 2022-2023. The research suggests most organisations are asking employees to return to the physical workspace for at least three days per week.

However, for employers who are upping their efforts to get people working on-site more often, the evolving legislative landscape around remote and flexible working has added several layers of complexity.

Read more on this topic here – https://www.hrmonline.com.au/section/legal/dismissal-employee-refusal-return-to-office/

“Quick, realistic and uncomplicated”: the best way to exit difficult employees

Exiting a difficult employee too often becomes a “train wreck”, but certain tactics increase the likelihood of successfully negotiating a mutual separation, a workplace lawyer says.

It can be very difficult to avoid litigation in Australia, which has one of the most complex industrial relations systems in the world, Dentons partner Paul O’Halloran states.

There’s “so many workplace rights that HR need to take account of”, and this is why it can be hard to exit employees in a traditional way, he says, adding that often, employees have “nothing to lose in contesting a dismissal”.

But this doesn’t mean you can’t exit employees smoothly and efficiently, he stresses.

Listen to his recommendations for a smooth exit here – https://www.hrdaily.com.au/news/quick-realistic-and-uncomplicated-the-best-way-to-exit-difficult-employees-11845

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