Hunted Worldwide: Melbourne

Welcome back to Hunted Worldwide. The best place in the world to get a complete lowdown on recruitment markets from all over the world. Today we’re coming to you from Melbourne with the assistance of Jarrad Skeen, Founder and MD of Affix. A successful and growing Digital and Technology specialist recruitment business.

1 Recruitment Market Overview

In relation to Tech and Digital, things are extremely buoyant right now in Melbourne. There’s a great market available for Recruiters which has been created by an increase in funding for tech startups all over the country. Traditionally, Australia may have been the destination for investment in mining and engineering industries. But now, in line with the ‘ideas boom’, a lot of technology sectors are seeing a surge of favour.

Affix recruit for senior level mandates across their two wide disciplines. That could mean working roles in Data Science or Product Management, right into Experience Design and Transformation.

In almost every case here there’s an abundance of demand from the client and short supply of candidates. To say the Melbourne recruitment market is relationship driven is a huge understatement. The talent-led market means differentiating yourself from your competition is paramount to success. Whether that means long-term tracking of homegrown talent or freshening approaches with foreign impetus.

Because of the sometimes difficult recruitment landscape in Melbourne, Jarrad believes a consultative business approach will win you a lot of friends. And business. Meaning Affix will often look at retention and promotion from within for their clients. Consulting on a client’s brand is also imperative due to the intense competition. In Jarrad’s own words “if you’re not building a great profile as a business, you won’t win.”

Another driver for success in Melbourne is having the flexibility to choose your clients as a Recruiter. Affix work on predominantly exclusive roles and would question the thinking behind working roles which aren’t. This is great if you’ve got the reputation and credibility to back up your initial sell but may be difficult when starting out. “Which is why”, Jarrad tells me “working for a great brand and building your market and integrity is so critical here.”

2 Contract verses Perm

In Technology (as wide a tag as that is) there’s about a 40% take up in contract employment overall in Melbourne. There is however less of a market for contract in Product roles (c.30%) due to trepidation over intellectual property rights. Any employee that could walk out with the product when not employed permanently is obviously a negative. This is probably true no matter what city you’re in.

Whether you’re a contract or permanent Recruiter there’ll be a thriving market for you to dive into in Melbourne. Whether you stay in the same field or change depending on where the need is, thorough market research will never let you down. 

Fireworks over Melbourne city

3 Professional Community

As mentioned above, being a transactional Recruiter who works on contingency and spot business will mean life can be tough in Melbourne. Though in fairness that’s probably true in many places. Everything here is driven by being personable and physically within your community. This means meetings, meetups and networking events are huge. And also that a Recruiter coming from a contract desk in London for example, used to just smashing the phones may need a new approach.

The good news there is that it’s much more enjoyable actually meeting people than merely ‘smashing the phones’ and your network will grow immeasurably faster.

4 Business Culture

As you’d expect with a candidate-led, relationship driven recruitment market, referrals reign supreme in Melbourne, and word of mouth is the number driver one of business at Affix. Therefore if you’re looking to move to Melbourne you’ll want to align yourself with great brands and earn credibility as fast as you can.

That includes working for a credible agency too, as starting out may be difficult here if you haven’t joined a reputable business from the outset.

In contrast to fast paced recruitment markets like London, things in Melbourne can take a little time, so patience is a virtue. This handy guide on Australian business culture may help you. Though it’s likely you’ll bump into a fellow ‘ex-pat’ Recruiter who can give you a few tips along the way.

5 Business Development

The one thing that helps Affix is having a genuine point of difference to a lot of other recruitment agencies (working on senior level mandates and innovative pricing). This means their phone rings rather than having to call people and tout for business. This is Jarrad’s number one tip for anyone considering the move. Be different and credible.

Being able to show a client how you’re different will stand you in good stead along with a track record that’s referable. Ideally not just a candidate endorsement on LinkedIn from 2002.

City fading from day to night

6 The CBD

There’s a definitive CBD in Melbourne and inside the tramlines you’ll find a large diversity of businesses, from large banks to small tech startups. For the latter, the rise of co-working spaces shooting up all over the city has meant homes being created for emerging tech businesses, and with the new found investment into the sector, it looks like this population is set to grow.

You’d probably need to be series B funding stage as a startup to afford a spot in the CBD but across Richmond, South Yarra and Collingwood there’s plenty of space for growth. Navigation around the CBD couldn’t be easier by tram and given the amount of meetings you’ll need to be on you’ll soon be a master.

7 Dress

As you’d expect under the setting of the above, the business dress code is casual in Melbourne. Smart casual probably at its most formal if you’re working with tech startups and Digital clients. In a generally relaxed working environment you won’t be needing a suit for the vast majority of meetings you attend.

Melbourne is known for being big on fashion however, so you may want to leave some of your commission every month for a new black t-shirt and pair of thongs. By and large though, it’s highly unlikely you’ll be judged on your dress.

Melbourne City Circle Tram

8 Transport

The urban sprawl of Melbourne is pretty wide. That said, getting from one side of the city to the other is pretty easy to do and made a lot easier by the awesome tram network. ‘Myki’ is Melbourne’s Oyster or Travelcard equivalent which will allow access to all of the city’s trains, trams and buses.

Even if you want to avoid public transport, make sure to take advantage of some free penguin viewing from the St Kilda Pier. Take the number 16 tram in the evening and stay on until the pier. Sunset normally sees them appear out the water.

Check out the ptv website for live information and travel routes.

Life in the city:

1 Weather

You’ll get four full seasons in Melbourne, often in the same day, which is one of the first things you’ll notice on being here. January is traditionally the hottest month, with July the coldest. On the whole the climate is temperate and leaves plenty of opportunity for outdoors activities, which you’ll be doing plenty of.

Melbourne Street

2 Housing

They say everything in life is relative, but even relatively speaking the cost of housing can be quite expensive if you’re looking to buy. There’s also an abundance of house hunters looking to snap up a bargain. This means if you’re fortunate enough to be able to buy property, it may not be as easy as other cities.

Melbourne after all consistently ranks amongst the most liveable cities in the world, recently taking the top spot for the sixth year in a row. This guide will be a good place to start and offer information on the best neighbourhoods.

If you’re renting, there will be plenty more options open to you, and in comparison to either Sydney or London it won’t cost you quite as much for a rental property in the city. Here’s a guide for best practice in renting accommodation.

3 Food

There are two things that citizens of Melbourne love more than anything else. The vast choice of sports which keeps the city entertained and the amazing food and restaurant culture which has benefitted from Italian, Greek and Asian cultures fusing with traditional flavours and now calling the city home.

There’s certainly not a lack of choice for diners in Melbourne, but don’t take my word for it. Heston Blumenthal describes the city’s food scene as “exciting, cultural, vibrant, and a fantastic diversity of restaurants. The moment I arrive in Melbourne, I feel relaxed – and that’s because of the city’s soul.”

The best way to explore any new city (food included) is to explore. But for the less adventurous of folk, here’s another guide to top eateries.

Melbourne in the daytime

4 Outdoor Space

Despite there being over four million people in Melbourne, there’s nearly 480 hectares of parks and gardens, which doesn’t include the surrounding beaches. This means you’ll want to be recruiting eleven people for a day’s cricket in the park as well as recruiting in your day job.

There’s no shortage of areas to have fun in the sun here. Whether that’s getting out for a cycle, sea fishing or a BBQ in the sun.

5 Sports

Cricket might well be Australia’s national sport, but ‘Footy’ is much more of ‘a Melbourne thing’ and the AFL was started here. Over half of the 18 teams in the league are still based in Melbourne, meaning you’ll always be able to catch a game, if you can get a ticket.

There’s also the Melbourne Cup when the entire city shuts down – it’s a public holiday here, but nowhere else in Aus. So make sure you find a good spot in the pub early doors. Outside of horse racing, you’ll want to get to the MCG, the F1 and Australian Open. 

Not bad for a city of four million. If you’re into sports, Melbourne may well be your spiritual home.

6 Social Scene

The varied social scene is a part of life Melburnians are immensely proud of, and you’ll find Museums, the arts and culture by the boat load. When you’re not at the cricket or the footy, you’ll definitely want to take advantage of the amazing coffee culture and possibly refresh your wardrobe from time to time – Melbourne apparently considers itself the fashion capital of Australia. So if in doubt, wear something black.

Given the amount of ex-pat societies in Melbourne, if you’re a ‘pom’ and want to find someone from your home country to give you tips, you won’t be left high and dry (weather dependent).

Panoramic view of Melbourne Cricket Ground on ANZAC Day 2015

7 Family

For both primary and secondary schooling, where your family home is situated will make a difference to the quality of school you’re able to apply to. And as with the UK, the waiting lists for the best schools can be long – and sometimes entered upon on birth of the future attendee! So thinking ahead is the right strategy. Generally speaking though, the schooling system in Melbourne is pretty good.

There are probably few places as amazing as Melbourne to raise a family. The setting is pretty much ideal for a family with bags of sport, plenty of space and a coastal location.

Many students will later take a ‘Big OE’ (overseas experience) either for university or after graduating, to see the world. Then come back to Australia to settle down into their careers.

8 Cost of Living

In comparison to London, you’ll probably find Melbourne on a par for cost of living. Income tax will to be the biggest drain on your salary and the cost of clothes (being the fashion capital) may set you back too. Electricity is the most expensive overhead so the greener you are, the more green in your wallet at the end of the month.

Rent, as always, will depend on how extravagant you want your accommodation, but expect London prices in general. According to this website, Melbourne is 21% cheaper than Sydney on the whole. Something they’ll take pleasure in no doubt, as fierce rivals.

melbourne panorama from the air

9 Tax

Income tax is the most notable strain on your money, as with most countries. This helpful website breaks down the system, which comparatively is close to the UK. There’s also a 10% goods and services tax which hasn’t changed in a long time.

It’s worth considering that the top threshold (45%) for tax is set at AU$180,000 but only the top 5% of the country earns this. So if you’re bringing in that level of commission it’s probably not a worry.

10 Visas

Obtaining a visa to work and live in Australia is easiest when done with a company who can sponsor you. If you have a degree and experience in recruitment it’s highly likely you’ll be accepted. In place of a degree, 5 year’s experience will also probably be enough to make sure you can live the Aussie dream.

If you’re making the leap on your own, make sure you do lots of research for all the documentation they will require. The immigration department of Australia aren’t famed for their speed or efficiency, so preparation is key. Here’s a useful website.

Pura Ulun Danu

11 Travel

The very first place you’ll want to explore when holidaying from Melbourne is the rest of Australia. There’s absolute everything you could wish for. Whether that’s the surf culture on the thousands of beaches, the plentiful cities all very different to each other, the Great Barrier reef, the beautiful islands off Queensland, the many wineries of in Victoria and South Australia, or even snowboarding!

As soon as you’re done with Aus, which may not happen, there are the Pacific Islands, Fiji, The Cook Islands, New Zealand and Asia’s not far away.

And if you get really desperate for ideas, there’s always Sydney.

To see if you’d fit in to Affix, have a look at their Hunted profile here.