Hunted Worldwide: Sydney

 It’s a welcome return for Hunted Worldwide this week, as I take the long trip over to Sydney with Charterhouse Australia to explore everything you need to know about the recruitment market.

Insight comes from Jason Darbyshire, current CEO and a man who’s recruited across three decades and three continents.

Market Overview

The headline statement for recruitment in Australia right now, is the market’s buoyant.

There’s a really good opportunity to make good money without looking too far. And this allows for the fact that Sydney’s becoming an over-broked market. Perhaps not over-broked in the sense of London, but each city has its own limits.

By Australian standards, Sydney’s a small area.

Recruiting in Sydney is larger than the CBD itself, which is small. Much of the recruitment is in the greater metropolitan area of Sydney, depending on what you recruit and in what sector.

So to protect business and remain buoyant, Charterhouse take the standpoint of backing recession proof markets. This means a growth strategy hedged on reliable industries rather than the riskier, and often more lucrative options, like Mining.

Growth for Charterhouse then lies in Government and Commercial markets to hedge against its operations in FS. It’s a hedging strategy that in the Sydney market, is paying off.

The internal revolution of recruitment is making those who bet on the future of business, by backing quick wins, a risky strategy. And Sydney’s no different in keeping one eye open to the coming tide.

Relationship building seems to be the number one answer when I ask Jason what trait works well for Sydney.

The city’s not a regional hub for APAC. And it’s not a city where every organisation needs an office. Therefore taking a similarity from a regional hub like Manchester in the UK will mean your ethos is about right.

This transfers into areas like business development too.

In Sydney businesses use you because they like you, not because they have to. There are recruitment panels like other cities – but there is ample opportunity to find business with organisations that don’t operate panel agreements.

It’s these client that often choose recruiters because of the affinity they have for them, rather than capability.


Contract verses Perm

The Sydney market in general’s weighted towards permanent. And the highest employment market in 2019 has been Professional, Scientific and Technical Services.

But as with most places, if you can find growth there’s room to operate how you’d like to.

Charterhouse at time of writing are over 60% temp focused. Which makes them a great proposition for contract recruiters looking to move over. And from a business perspective makes for a strong business model.

Jason tells me in 2012, 90% of their business was perm. But through great hires and good strategy, they’ve pushed into contracting and their exploits have paid off.

Professional Community

Generally speaking the difference between a good recruiter and a great one is the 1% things.” Jason responds when I ask how people like to do business.

I know this to be true of great recruiters I’ve worked with, but in Sydney, and other less transactional markets like the US, these 1%s are held in greater esteem.

So what do Charterhouse do to meet people?

Mostly, exactly what their market does. And this is one point which won’t change depending on your city or employer.

Attend Meetups, find online groups, watch educational speakers, do courses in branding, build a presence online.

The candidate community in Sydney buy into long-termism. Not every candidate is looking today, but they remember and recall the interactions with recruiters that are genuine, and when the interaction is based on something other than a need to discuss.

The mindset will pay bigger dividends than markets like New York or London.


Business Culture

It’s a natural progression when highlighting business culture, to continue talking about individualism. Charterhouse emphasises the individuality and professionalism of their recruiters when asked “Why Charterhouse?”

Working with Charterhouse gives our customers a baseline as to what to expect from their dealings in terms of service delivery, but at the same time their people are afforded the flexibility to be themselves and to propose the solution that is right for the customer, rather than a pre-determined process or strategy.

“You switch to fit the market.” Jason reiterates.

There’s also no ‘Charterhouse way’, which is pleasing to hear. Unlike a lot of companies where there’s no individuality in attire, let alone strategy, taking this approach to business has undoubtedly paid dividends.

If you’re moving into a new sector in Sydney this has to be your outlook. Match your market. With dress code. Working hours. Invoicing. Attitude. Networking. The lot.

Mirror your market and you won’t go wrong.

Business Development

The art of building a relationship always starts with a “Hello, my name is” Jason laughs when I ask about BD methods for Charterhouse Sydney.

And as I expect, the answer to “What works for you?” depends on the consultant and market.

Their UX consultants might be out the office the entire day.

Whereas the Actuarial desk might be split between networking in the Royal Actuarial Society and getting on the phone.

If you’ve built desks or specialisms before, or simply carved your way in a new industry, you’ll be well prepared for BD in Aus. And naturally, keeping a constant eye on the market is an astute angle for success.



Sydney has a CBD, unlike some recruitment markets, and is mostly made up financial, Consulting and Services based clients. But that’s far from the epicentre of work for a recruitment company split across markets.

All of the big FMCGs for example are outside the CBD.

And generally you’ll find businesses have hubs outside of town, or in different areas in a similar spread to working in Greater Manchester.

For most consultants, you’ll find the majority of clients within an hour taxi ride.


As with most answers I get here, the aesthetics of both the Sydney recruitment market and business in general depends on your niche.

Like anywhere else in the world, if you walk into a media client in a suit, you’re going to get sniggers.


Syndey’s not a big place. But just looking at it on the map, before trying to get around yourself, you can see how tricky things can get.

Sometimes, you’ll be on the ferry.

Sometimes it’s a cab. Which is what Charterhouse normally rely on.

Public transport is definitely not reliable, and GoGet a city-wide car share scheme is a good backup for meetings a touch further away.

But you won’t be able to rely on meeting your network on foot.


Life in the city:


As you’re reading this article, this section’s almost arbitrary, but let’s spell it out, just in case.

Sydney has the perfect climate and weather for the outdoor lifestyle.

It has hot (and sometimes scorching) summers and mild winters. You’ll get plenty of rain and extreme conditions at times, but you’re very unlikely to need your gloves.


Sydney remains one of the most expensive places to buy in major recruitment hubs. So, unless you’re moving over to start your own agency, renting’s probably the way to go.

At least initially.

That said, it’s good news for renters as this year, due to increased supply there’s been a 5% drop in average costs, the first time in 12 years. For a one bed apartment, the average cost is $540 p/w.

This will alter for where in Sydney you want to call home, but it’s worth finding temporary accommodation initially, to really get a feel for the different areas.

Manly, a popular choice for ex-pats, differs from Bondi for example. Which will differ greatly from a place in the more central Surry Hills or further south.



Like most of Australia, Sydney’s hot on the coffee scene. And, without drawing comparisons to another Australian city oft quoted in reference, there’s a push towards finer dining and versatile recipes drawn on inspiration from the outside world.

But whether you’re thinking of mostly cooking yourself or letting someone else do the dishes, food bills are one of the most expensive parts of everyday life.

Living on the coast, you’ll never have a shortage of seafood restaurants to try, and there are gems hidden all over the city for the culinarily adventurous.

Outdoor Space

Depending on which part of the city you call home, outdoor space is what makes Sydney so attractive.

There’s no shortage of beaches and green areas with free-standing communal BBQs plentiful. If you’re moving from the UK, the outdoor drinking culture is a little different and may be something you find restrictive on occasion.

But there’s something to outside every day of the week.

If the surf scene doesn’t grab you, the bowls scene might, as you sit above the coastline taking in the late evening views.

You could start swimming in the famous Bondi Icebergs club (if you can get in) or try any number of new sports.

One thing’s for certain, you’ll be planning your days around ‘after work activities’ much more readily than you were in the UK.


Social Scene

The outdoor lifestyle permeates the social scene in Sydney, and chances are, you’ll be socialising outside, far more than inside.

If you’re moving over as a recruiter, with a company like Charterhouse, it’s highly likely you’ll be exposed to a number of groups and scenes in a short timeframe. This is a great chance to explore and make friends.

And with the amount of ex-pats in this industry specifically, your friendship group will likely consist of a mix of nationalities.


Family life in Sydney takes some beating. And if you’re bringing up children, there’s an outstanding versatility to life in the city which your kids will thank you for.

If the aforementioned beach lifestyle doesn’t grab them, maybe the national park will?

Or the plethora of culturally diverse attractions right on your doorstep?

Schools are worth researching and as with everywhere in the world will differ in nature slightly.

Cost of Living

I could have just written the word expensive here and left it, but I’ll expand for reference.

Sydney is probably on a par with London. There are differences, sure. And costs will be incurred in different ways (like the cost of groceries for example).

But earning decent commission in Aussie Dollars is preferable to minimise the damage the exchange rate has initially.

Here’s a good cost of living analysis.



If you’re moving from the US, the tax system in Sydney might seem high. If you’re moving from the UK, it’s probably on a par.

After $37,001 you’ll be paying 32.5c on the dollar. Over $90,001 that rises to 37c And over $180,000 it’s 45c.

So working out your salary and hopeful commission a worthwhile exercise before you move.

It’s also worth noting, National Insurance contributions of the UK aren’t worked out the same in Australia. And if you’re an ex-pat you’ll need to take out Healthcare insurance to make sure you’re covered.


How easy is it to get a Visa for Australia?

In reality, the answer to this question depends on the business you’re joining. If that business is Charterhouse, then you’re probably going to be fine, depending on your education and career history.

If it’s a less established business, with fewer staff, the complications increase.

Here’s an article to help you.

Exotic travel

You’d think Sydney would place you perfectly in Oceania to really ramp up the travelling.

And whilst that’s true to an extent, don’t expect the distances or flight times to be the same as Europe. The first thing you notice about Australia is the size.

Yes, Bali is close. But it’s still over 6 hours away.

Yes, you’ve got an entire country on your doorstep. But you’ll either be flying or driving A LONG TIME to see it.

Yes New Zealand’s close too. But flights tend to be rather pricey in high-season and Sydney to Wellington for example, is still three hours.

In summary, the Sydney recruitment market is in good shape right now. There’s opportunity galore for recruiters with the right mindset and great ability to network.

Just remember to do your research before booking your flight, and talk to an expert to make your move the easiest it could be.

And if you need to find a an agency well-versed in making your antipodean move successful, click here.