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News & Insights

The 2019 That Was

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As we move into a new year, it’s a great opportunity to reflect on the year that 2019 was…

Despite the almost trade war between America and China, the impasse of Brexit in the UK and the drought in NSW/Queensland, hiring activity remained solid across the areas in which we recruit throughout VIC, NSW and QLD.

The recruitment and white-collar employment market remained largely unchanged from 2018; companies were comfortable to replace people after resignation rather than reluctant, but very rarely did we see huge recruitment drives where companies were investing for future expansion.

The market remained tentative, and almost as though it was waiting for someone or something to give it a push in a certain direction. This applied to both employers and employees - where employers were holding steady, employees were also hesitant to make a move given there was more security in “the devil you know”, than there was in taking a risk with a relatively unknown company. As such, employers have had to work hard to tempt top tier talent to make the move into their organisations.

At Sharp & Carter, 2019 still saw internal growth, albeit not at the rapid pace that we saw in 2018. In terms of the disciplines in which we recruit, each has traveled their own path in 2019, proving once again that each industry is its own moving piece. To further elaborate on this, I asked some of our Partners, Directors and Managers for a snapshot of their markets in 2019, as follows:


“Despite headwinds and negative commentary on the economic outlook in the press, a strong appetite for business to replace natural attrition and also to grow headcount in certain key areas of accounting and finance remained.

Business Partners and Analysts in the $120,000 - $160,000 package range remained the most sought-after profiles in the finance function.”

Harley Thomas – Partner, Melbourne

Simon Cust – Partner, Sydney


“The clerical market in 2019 remained buoyant, particularly across growing sectors such as Aged Care, Health Care and Education. Payroll continued to be an extremely difficult sector to recruit in, with a low supply of candidates with the specific skill set employers were looking for. Also, rather than large businesses going down the offshore shared services path, there has been a gradual shift towards automation here in Australia.”

Chris Belegrinos – Partner, Melbourne

Daniel Careless – Partner, Brisbane

Harley Thomas - Partner, Melbourne

Simon Cust - Partner, Sydney

Chris Belegrinos - Partner, Melbourne

Daniel Careless - Partner, Brisbane


“We saw another reasonable year across S&M sectors with SME’s building out their respective teams across a range of industries. Heavier supply in candidates in comparison to jobs in market was also noted, hence the recruitment processes were slower than ever before.

2019 saw huge investment across Digital for all industries but most notably in the Retail and FMCG sectors. The beginning of the calendar year saw continued investment across junior and mid-level roles in the Digital and eCommerce space but a slower than average rate of growth across the senior market. In contrast, since the beginning of the new financial year, there was a notable increase in senior opportunities being created compared with previous years.”

Sam Arico – Partner, Melbourne

John Corrigan – Director, Sydney

Kian Myers – Director, Sydney

Simon Marks – Partner, Brisbane

Sam Arico - Partner, Melbourne

John Corrigan – Director, Sydney

Kian Myers – Director, Sydney

Simon Marks – Partner, Brisbane


“The property and construction market held up well in 2019. The high-rise apartment market did slow, causing builders and developers to invest into other sectors, namely Commercial and Industrial.

We are seeing promising signs for 2020, with the Government and Private sectors continuing to invest as Melbourne’s population continues to grow.

Top end talent is very much in high demand in what has been a very candidate short market for some time.”

John Bailey – Partner, Melbourne


“The Executive Assistant role is moving away from standard Administrative duties towards a strategic business partner role. There is huge demand for legal secretaries, and we have had a steady demand for temporary support in these roles.”

Zoe Raphael – Director, Melbourne

Elise Dawson – Director, Melbourne

Zoe Raphael – Director, Melbourne

Elise Dawson – Director, Melbourne


“The most buoyant finish to a year that we have seen in over 5 years. There was still demand for candidates with niche skill sets such as D365, Cloud, Business Intelligence, Automation to name a few.

The demand for good female talent, at all levels and across all technology verticals has continued to build through 2019. Organisations will continue to hire strong female candidates into Junior roles, but employers will do everything they can to retain their current senior female talent and it will remain difficult to attract these candidates.”

Niall O’Rourke – Director, Sydney

Peter Riseley – Director, Melbourne

Niall O’Rourke
Niall O’Rourke – Director, Sydney

Peter Riseley
Peter Riseley – Director, Melbourne


“The Legal market was particularly strong across both In House and Private Practice. The prevalent areas were M&A, Banking & Finance, Dispute Resolution, Real Estate, Construction both Front and Back end, Employment Relations and Compliance.

We have noted clients typically seeking lawyers who are technically and commercially strong, who are team players and take a collaborative and proactive approach in contrast to reactive.”

Adam Kumaraswamy – Partner, Melbourne

Simona Mayer – Partner, Melbourne

Adam Kumaraswamy
Adam Kumaraswamy – Partner, Melbourne

Simona Mayer
Simona Mayer – Partner, Melbourne


“The Brisbane Executive market showed improvement in the first half of 2019. Industries which were the most active included Utilities, Health, Aged Care and Community Services and Government related organisations. The number of Executive vacancies decreased during the July to September period however the job market gathered momentum in the months leading up to Christmas as some businesses looked to hire new talent prior to the New Year. Employers were typically seeking people with strong industry alignment and softer skills including agility, resilience, stakeholder management and an ability to work effectively in an environment of ambiguity.”

Tim Turner – Partner, Brisbane


“The Queensland HR market was very busy in 2019 with around 400-500 live jobs on Seek at any given time. More and more jobs in 2019 required strong experience with industrial relations and employment relations as IR/ER legislation and laws in Australia are some of the world’s most complex. Highly reputable Australian companies were in lights for underpayment issues and breaches in employment legislation due to its complexity, meaning candidates who have this level of experience are highly sought after particularly across industries such as manufacturing, retail and aged care.

Haylea Smith – Principal Consultant, Brisbane