Applicants say job hunting like ‘The Hunger Games’ as labour market tightens

Job-seekers say it is not uncommon to be facing off with hundreds of applicants in the current market, and some employers are deploying Hunger Games-style tactics to weed out winners.

RNZ reported on Friday the number of job applicants per advertisement is almost three times as high as it was in 2019.

One applicant, Natalie, said even jobs that were not likely to be “dream” roles for anyone had 150 to 300 applicants each time.

“I know this, because Seek would email me with these statistics after the advertisement expired. I was shocked to see such basic roles, with average-to-low salaries, had so much interest.

“It is incredibly disheartening, as you think, ‘Out of 300 people, there will always be someone more qualified than me.'”

She said employers clearly had their pick of candidates.

“Never in recent years has an employer had such an enormous range of candidates, with many desperate, overqualified and willing to compromise on salaries and flexibility… I found that because of this, employers took their time getting in touch, and had an air of ‘you need me, I don’t need you’. “

She said she had encountered one scenario that felt like something out of The Hunger Games, where an employer asked her to attend a “group recruitment event” for two hours in the middle of a workday.

“When I responded and said that I was currently employed and could not get leave on such short notice, the effect of the response was, ‘Oh well, you will miss out then.’ No alternative offered.”

Kate applied for an internal role in her company, which she said was equivalent to what she had been doing before children. She did not even make it to the shortlist.

“I’ve accepted it but it’s gutting as I work in a public organisation with a history of shoulder-tapping men – 80 percent leadership team male vs 35 percent-ish of kaimahi male – and I’d been waiting for this role to open as this is where my experience lies.

“It’s troubling to find out that my internal experience has invalidated me from consideration, and I am concerned that the recent redundancies and competitive job market will primarily impact primary carers.”

In Wellington, Daniel said he applied for a policy role and made it to a shortlist of 18 people.

“I understand they had around 100 people applying. The problem is job shedding is occurring at the same time, so the market can’t absorb redundant workers.

“Friends I know are going to Auckland but a few are going to Europe and Australia. New Zealand is going to lose a lot of very well-qualified people over the next year or so. I think this is going to result in skill shortages in three to five years’ time.”

Hayley Pickard, founder of recruitment firm Fortitude Group, said she had seen application numbers “skyrocketing”.

One factory operative role had 255 applications, a construction supervisor position had 260 and an office admin role that went live on Thursday had already had 60.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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