How do you find a ‘unicorn’ in a tough mining jobs market?

A unicorn in the desert – a pretty good analogy for mining recruitment in a skills shortage.

In a tough jobs market, mining companies are struggling to find jobs candidates with specific sets of skills. Here’s what to do.

How to find (and employ) a mining unicorn

Imagine this is your situation (this shouldn’t be too hard):

You are a mining company manager and you’re looking for a candidate with a very specific skill set for a particularly technical role. You need the person to work in a location or on a FIFO roster that really limits the candidate pool. In short, you’re looking for the mining equivalent of a unicorn!

You have reviewed multiple applications and conducted numerous phone screenings, face-to-face interviews and in, some cases, further assessments and references. Despite all of that, you still have not found the perfect fit for your role. 

It wasn’t that hard the last time you recruited a person for this role four years ago.

An advert, a closure date, interview, due diligence, offer, and acceptance. Bingo! How easy was that?

Boy, how things have changed.

The reality about mining recruitment today

Companies (and recruiters) are coming to the end of the candidate-rich market, where finding applicants was relatively simple (even though filling positions still required sound systems and processes, hard work and consistent communication).

While we are not yet seeing the across-the-board skills shortages of the noughties and early 2010s, we are seeing several areas where candidates are in short supply.

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Experienced candidates know what skills are in demand and if they don’t get your role or don’t hear back from you, they are now starting to realise there will be another opportunity just around the corner.

But some mining companies haven’t quite caught up with this development and so have not yet adapted their recruitment processes to the current market.

A unicorn in a forest, representing how hard it is for mining companies to find the perfect employee.

How to find the perfect candidate in a tight mining skills market

If you’re looking for a unicorn, chances are they aren’t actively applying for positions.

They’re certainly not going to be reaching out to Recruiters and Hiring Managers on LinkedIn or have a SEEK or LinkedIn profile saying they are available.

And it’s highly unlikely they are looking for a lateral move in their career.

Snaring a unicorn requires you to have a comprehensive and detailed understanding of the role, the non-negotiable skills and attributes, the team dynamic, the mining company and operation culture, and the key areas where your unicorn might be located. It requires a proactive, targeted and multi-level approach, and you need to know exactly what it is you are looking for before you start.

Streamline recruitment processes immediately

But the hunt is only part of the process.

You need to ensure your recruitment process is streamlined, you have approval to hire at a higher salary level if needed, and the key people involved are available to interview at times that suit the applicants.

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Particularly if you are reaching out to them proactively via LinkedIn, SEEK or through a recruiter, your own schedule needs to be secondary. You need to demonstrate your company is:

  • Fast-moving
  • Proactive
  • One they will achieve their career goals in
  • And certainly one they will want to join.

You will potentially only get a single chance to prove all these things.

Want to talk about your recruitment strategy for finding your next mining unicorn? Contact the team of mining search and recruitment experts at Mining People.

Gail Rogers
Senior Consultant - Candidate Services & HR Consulting
Mining People International

gail.rogers@miningpeople.com.au

Gail worked in operational and technical mine site roles for 15 years and has been with MPi since 2002 in mining recruitment and executive search and eventually mining career guidance and human resources advisory positions. Gail’s 15 years directly in the mining industry, across residential, FIFO and CBD based roles, has given her a unique perspective into the industry.