to hire or not to hire: do i train or hire new skills?


By Chris Andrews – Managing Director

Buy Vs Build

Hiring, developing and retaining skills in such a ‘hot’ market is an ongoing headache for employers. Here we identify a couple of steps that we have seen successful organisations taking, to help with the challenge.

Its tough out there

Hiring in Australia is currently a demanding and competitive process. It’s been a candidate’s market for most of the last year or two, and remains so, despite the slight cooling off (Seek ads dropped just over 8% in Jan 23 v last year). In addition, we’ve seen a steep increase in the price of money, resulting in more pressure on employers to deliver for their investors and manage debt with greater discipline. Employers are trapped in a hunt for scarce talent that costs more each month. In this environment, should they be growing their own skills rather than pay a premium to bring new talent on board?
While there is no clear, one-size-fits-all answer for such a complex and varied challenge spanning multiple industries, what can you do differently in order to address such a universal challenge? Below we share some of the steps we have observed the more progressive, successful organisations taking, to remain ahead of the talent curve.

Plan Ahead

People waiting to interview

Are the skills you are hiring for sitting within your current team?

A workforce plan is the non-negotiable starting point and it does not have to be complicated. In fact, the best ones are simple, easy to implement and consequently far more effective. It should provide a simple summary of the skills needed over the next 24 months within the business, in order to deliver the strategic plan.
At a business unit level, each business unit leader should know 1) the overall strategic plan, 2) their unit’s remit in its delivery, and 3) any skills their unit must acquire (adjusted for flight risks and promotions) in order to fulfill their role. When consolidated with other unit plans, it provides the ELT with a central list of the key skills required for the business. From this point, once you have established which critical skills are not available internally, you can begin mapping the market.

Map the Market, and listen to it

Critical skill lists (internal demand) can then be cross-referenced with market-mapping (external supply) to assess which skills can easily be found externally versus those that are more challenging to source. Market mapping also allows you to analyse the behaviours of those skill cohorts and ‘put yourself in their path’. For example, are you looking for a functional skill that is growing overseas but not Australia? Then begin your path to sponsorship. Are your target skills found more in contractors who are spread around the country? Then position yourself as the employer of choice for a distributed/transient workforce?

By targeting your skill cohorts early and engaging them, you are increasing the initial emotional connection to your employer brand, hence your odds of attracting the right skills for growth. By adapting your organisation to your target workforce (remote working being a great current example) you remain attractive and competitive.
In addition, if the mapping is telling you which of your critical target skills are incredibly rare or simply

Group of people in an office

By collecting market data, you will reap the benefits long term

overpriced, even with your attractive employer brand, then you know this is where you should invest in an alternative approach, such as internal training, allowing for a more targetted and therefore cost-effective investment of your training budget. While this is difficult to do, the alternative is scrambling for talent every time a need arises.

Engage early, engage proactively and get the data

Collecting and reviewing market data on your target skill cohorts, based on your workforce planning, is crucial to building this multilayered hiring approach. A dedicated search team in constant contact with your target cohorts allows you to build talent pools and proactively gain real-time feedback. Once you have started, your plan can be reviewed on a regular basis and refined over time based on this feedback. It is this approach that we see in our most progressive clients, and the one that forms part of Stone’s ‘talent funnel’ framework. By implementing the above steps




Stone Recruitment works to understand your business on a deeper level and work alongside you to help you find the best candidates for your roles. If you’re looking to find the best candidates to expand your team and business, get in touch.