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People are searching for more than just their dream job

The Reserve Bank forecasts unemployment will remain below 4 per cent through 2023, reaching 4.3 per cent by December 2024, and it expects wage growth to hit a plateau of 3.9 per cent by June next year.


Cowgill said that showed the labour market will soften slightly, but will broadly remain hot this financial year.

“Overall, it’s going to remain a tight labour market. Reflecting that overall wages and salaries should be expected to pick up further,” he said.

Seek’s advertised salary index has risen further and faster than the Bureau of Statistics wage price index, but Cowgill said he expects that gap to narrow as enterprise bargaining agreements get updated.

Starting bonuses skyrocket in jobs competition

One way employers have been increasingly trying to attract workers is through sign-on bonuses – and the number of Seek ads mentioning sign-on bonuses is up nearly 2200 per cent on pre-pandemic levels.

Cowgill said it was still a very small number of ads with bonuses – 1300 a month, or less than 1 per cent of total ads – but it was still an enormous increase from 2019.

The rise in sign-on bonuses might also reflect the fact businesses want to avoid baking in higher wage costs going forward, Cowgill said, but they are also part of the “really fierce competition” for workers.

While advertised vacancies have fallen from a record high in May, they are still more than 46.2 per cent higher than pre-COVID. But the number of job applications per ad has plummeted to 45.5 per cent below pre-COVID levels, with fewer people looking for work and greater choice.

“Hirers have to do more to attract candidates, and particularly to attract quality candidates, and signup bonuses are one strategy that they’re employing to do that,” he said.

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