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How Australian workforces can attract overseas talent

By Shandel McAuliffe | |7 minute read
How Australian Workforces Can Attract Overseas Talent

Karen Loon, non-executive director and author, spoke with The HR Leader about how Australian organisations can address the talent shortage by looking to overseas markets.

SEEK’s monthly employment report for October showed that while job ads declined 3.7 per cent month-on-month, the figure is still 44.7 per cent higher compared to October 2019.

The industries recording the highest increase in jobs ads in October were healthcare and medical, followed by information and communication technology and engineering.


Appearing recently on The HR Leader podcast, Ms Loon offered up her perspective on how Australian organisations can look to recruit talent from overseas markets. By doing so, organisations can ensure cultural diversity and fill important positions at the same time.

“Obviously the lifestyle is important,” Ms Loon said when asked what would help attract talent from a jurisdiction such as Singapore.

“People know Australia as the lifestyle [country], but there are these perceptions as well, I would say, that there are these biases in the work processes here that mean that it's really difficult for people to succeed.

“I'd try to have programs [to] support people with different backgrounds to not, say, assimilate, but get used to working in Australia more. So, there could be programs on how people could be onboarded, but also give them stretch assignments like you would others, opportunities to help them to grow and to thrive in different ways.”

Key to these opportunities is ensuring pathways are put in place for employees to progress by way of promotions and salary remuneration, Ms Loon said.

“Australia is a really expensive place to live compared to a lot of countries and I think that is something that employers need to remember,” she said.

“People do have these choices and they do look at the cost of living, including tax. So really, giving them the opportunities is important because they can move back overseas if they're not able to get the remuneration that gives them the lifestyle that they would like. It’s a lot [about the] opportunities. It’s around remuneration. It’s around promotions.”

Increasing mentorship opportunities is another way employers can not only attract but retain overseas talent, Ms Loon suggested.

“There are ways to mentor new joiners to actually make their experience positive rather than just leaving them to adapt and think, ‘Well, if they're good, then they'll thrive’. Because it's not an easy environment to join [a position] in Australia for people from offshore. It can be quite challenging, particularly given we often, in Australia, tend to separate our work and our families aside,” she said.

“People often come from overseas and they find it challenging because it’s hard to build friends. It’s hard to get to know the people and that sort of thing. So, building closer relationships, including at work, through activities outside of work, I think will help.”

Equally important, Ms Loon said, is instilling a sense of belonging.

“At the end of the day, people will stay with the organisation if there’s a real sense of belonging, if there's a real sense that there’s trust and that they’re being given those opportunities and they can be transparent. And so really being aware of the behaviours in organisations, the politics, the silos,” she explained.

“Silos and dysfunctional behaviours can be an indication that people's anxieties and stress levels are up. I think it’s important to try to recognise that those things can actually inhibit diversity because of the way people will behave if they're particularly anxious. That’s not easy.

“I'd really encourage organisations to be aware of how people are feeling because individuals can feel stressed, but also, those individual stresses collectively can lead to behaviours and an environment that's not necessarily the best place to work.”

The transcript of this podcast episode, when quoted above, was slightly edited for publishing purposes. The full audio conversation recorded end of October 2022 with Karen Loon is below, and the original podcast article with references can be found here.




Your organization's culture determines its personality and character. The combination of your formal and informal procedures, attitudes, and beliefs results in the experience that both your workers and consumers have. Company culture is fundamentally the way things are done at work.


Mentoring pairs up less experienced workers with more seasoned ones to provide coaching, training, and development. This can be done informally or formally, with meetings and quantified results.

Shandel McAuliffe

Shandel McAuliffe

Shandel has recently returned to Australia after working in the UK for eight years. Shandel's experience in the UK included over three years at the CIPD in their marketing, marcomms and events teams, followed by two plus years with The Adecco Group UK&I in marketing, PR, internal comms and project management. Cementing Shandel's experience in the HR industry, she was the head of content for Cezanne HR, a full-lifecycle HR software solution, for the two years prior to her return to Australia.

Shandel has previous experience as a copy writer, proofreader and copy editor, and a keen interest in HR, leadership and psychology. She's excited to be at the helm of HR Leader as its editor, bringing new and innovative ideas to the publication's audience, drawing on her time overseas and learning from experts closer to home in Australia.

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