Why Limiting Your Search to Canberra Could Be Your Biggest Hiring Mistake

Where are all the candidates!? It’s a question almost every employer is asking. A recent media release from the Australian Bureau of Statistics may shed some light on this issue.

New data shows that for the first time since 1981, Australia’s regional population grew more than our capital cities. In fact, a mass exodus of residents from Sydney and Melbourne has seen the population in regional Australia surge by more than 70,000!

The shift is no doubt a reflection of modern times, as people take the opportunity to leverage remote working and finally make that sea-change or tree-change they’ve aspired to. It appears to be working too, with many who made the change in 2020 still able to secure contracts or permanent employment remotely almost 2 years later.

And it looks like employers are catching on. Recent market data also shows that job ads in regional areas have increased by 99% compared to pre-COVID.

For many, it feels as though the talent pool in Canberra has dried up… and hiring managers in the public and private sectors are becoming increasingly frustrated as they struggle to find suitably qualified people to fill important roles.   

Is it time to cast a wider net?  

Organisations holding out for local candidates to fill specialised roles which could be performed remotely are struggling to secure the talent they need. Stubbornly resisting the idea of looking further afield means they are seriously reducing the pool of talent available and therefore getting left behind.

We’ve seen several government departments achieve remarkable success by opting to cast a wider net – especially where they’re able to utilise a presence in other states to have new hires working from their local office every now and then.

For example, we recently delighted a hiring manager when we secured them a candidate with the ideal experience and skillsets for a role they had not been able to fill for 3 months. The successful candidate lives in Western Australia, as we determined the job could be performed remotely.  It was an option they had not previously considered, and now both client their new team member are very happy with the outcome.

Similar success was also achieved in a recent bulk campaign we ran for a large federal government department. We worked with them to leverage their national footprint and attract applications from as far afield as Darwin. Successful candidates now work a combination of at-home days and time each week or month in their local office.

This recruitment campaign enabled the department to secure qualified and experienced team members from all around Australia and fill long open vacancies which previously had been only allocated to the Canberra office.  

Success Factors for Long Distance Hiring

Obviously, not all jobs are suitable to be located remotely, and it would have become quite clear during COVID lockdowns exactly which type of roles these are.

But anything that involves writing, editing, programming, data analytics, accounting, and many other types of activities is worth considering as a role which could be performed outside of Canberra.

As long as you have the right processes, technology and established outcomes from the outset, there’s no reason to assume it won’t work.

With the ability to attract and secure talented Canberran’s the toughest it’s ever been, perhaps the best person for your role lives in Wollongong, Orange, or even Perth!

We are increasingly seeing exasperated hiring managers secure the talent they so desperately need by being open to their team members being located outside of Canberra.

Is it time for you to consider casting the net a little wider? Our consultants have the market knowledge and expertise to help you understand why you may not be attracting the talent you need. Connect with us today to have a chat about your options on 02 6108 4878.  


Andy Batstone
General Manager – Recruitment Operations
HorizonOne Recruitment

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