Stephen Carter, Partner at Sharp & Carter


Happy New

Year 2019

As we enter a new year, I wanted to reflect on the year that was and look forward to what we think this new year – 2019 – may hold.

The 2018 that was.

Broadly speaking, hiring activity in 2018 remained steady without being spectacularly strong. Throughout the year we generally had a full plate of roles to recruit but were never really stretched. But we had no complaints: - Business confidence remains high and there are plenty of opportunities for candidates who are looking in the right places. More candidates have choices on where they move to, including the choice of staying in their current role and we are seeing less of a “grass is greener” mentality in candidates, which means organisations are having to work harder to attract the best candidates – a contrast to how it has been in the previous few years.

To move industries is still a challenging step for candidates, albeit some organisations are becoming more open to it. Unless at junior level, a business is usually paying a candidate for their expertise above all else. As such, if a candidate has no experience in an industry and is up against someone (usually multiple candidates) with years of experience, it becomes a tough ‘sell’ for a business to pay the same salary for the person without the expertise. However, we are noticing organisations with real talent strategies are looking beyond industry experience as their number one priority. Culture fit, team dynamic, longevity, risk of turnover and the potential future ability of a candidate are becoming more relevant in some organisations - not many, but some.

At Sharp & Carter, 2018 saw huge growth as we increased our recruiter headcount by 40%. This was driven mainly by our expansion in Sydney and the opening of our new Brisbane office, but was also supported by a well performing economy and demand for talent.

In terms of each discipline we recruit, each has traveled its own path in 2018, proving once again that each industry is its own moving piece. I asked some of our Partners, Directors and Managers for their snapshot of their markets in 2018, as follows:


“The executive level ($200k +) remained quiet with far more people looking than roles available in the market. Generally, the more junior the role the more demand we experienced. There was a constant demand for commercial business partners with a combination of outstanding interpersonal and presentation skills, above average Excel skills as well as general business acumen. We saw a definite move towards recruiting roles permanently rather than on a temporary basis which points towards more confidence in the market this coming year.”

Harley Thomas - Partner, Melbourne
Simon Cust - Partner, Sydney


Rima Unver – Manager, Sydney

“Payroll candidates are in very high demand and this was the hardest area to recruit across accounting support in 2018. Thus, payroll salaries continued to rise in 2018 while demand (and salaries) for AP/Credit control candidates remained steady. The market is not buoyant for the senior manager level like Shared Services Manager roles ($120k+).”

Chris Belegrinos – Partner, Melbourne
Rima Unver – Manager, Sydney


“In FMCG and Consumer Goods Sales hiring demand for National Account Managers at the $110-$140k level is through the roof. In Industrial, Technical & B2B sales there is strong demand for BDM’s that have got experience and expertise in their related fields. Communication roles and brand marketers are in steady demand without being particularly buoyant. There continues to be a strong demand for Digital Marketing candidates for organisations to drive their customer experience and personalisation to gain the edge over their competitors.”

Sam Arico – Partner, Melbourne
John Corrigan – Director, Sydney
Kian Myers – Director, Sydney
Simon Marks – Partner, Queensland


“2018 was candidate and skills short in the majority of sectors in white-collar roles. If you are a white-collar professional within the property and construction market, we want to speak to you! Whilst the apartment market slowed down in the last six months due to financial funding restrictions, it is likely that the infrastructure projects over the next 5 years will counteract this slow down and demand will remain high in this sector.”

James Wagner - Partner, Melbourne


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

Diana Josic – Manager, Sydney
Zoe Raphael – Director, Melbourne

Zoe Raphael – Director, Melbourne


“The key areas of transformation in this space in 2018 centred around:

* Internet of Things (IOT)
* Artificial Intelligence (AI)
* Cloud
* Security
* Transformation/Agility
* CRM & ERP projects

There were lots of Business Solutions Managers hired into the market and data and analytics is still on the tip of the tongue with an increased focus for businesses to utilise their data more effectively. Demand for PM’s and BA’s not requiring a specific skill set has not been as strong. There is a strong demand for talent generally and we forecast a very busy 2019.”

Niall O’Rourke – Director, Sydney
Ryan Lenton – Director, Melbourne


“The Legal market has been very buoyant in 2018 across both Private Practice and In House. The most prevalent areas within Private Practice have been M&A, Banking, Construction, Real Estate and we have also seen a pick up in the litigation and Energy & Resources space in the second half of the year. Within this market we have seen the highest level of demand at the 3 years PQE level up to 7 years PQE. Whilst the market remains candidate short there definitely has been an increase in appetite for candidates to consider Private Practice opportunities.
The In House market was strong across most industries and there was a significant pick up at the Senior end of the market 7 years PQE up to 10 years PQE. The reasons for this are varied businesses have realised that their internal Legal function is stretched and they need to add to head count. Outsourcing work to law firms can be very costly and it is more commercial to try and undertake more work internally. Some businesses have also become more appreciative of the Legal function and the strategic and commercial value it brings. Whilst the candidate flow is much stronger in this space the best way to identify the most outstanding talent available is through market mapping and head hunting.”

Adam Kumaraswamy – Partner, Melbourne
Simona Mayer – Partner, Melbourne


“2018 saw an increase in demand for Executive level positions in Brisbane. This was primarily caused by two factors. Firstly, there was an improvement in economic conditions across key market segments including Mining & Resources, Oil & Gas, Infrastructure, Aged Care (demographic related) and Utilities/Renewables. Secondly, these market conditions led to more senior candidates seeking new career opportunities, thus creating more job vacancies and candidate churn. Skills in the most demand were professionals who possessed expertise in revenue generation, operational excellence, cultural transformation and project and/or change management.

It’s expected 2019 will continue to see more economic growth particularly in the markets mentioned above. This will lead to an increase in scarcity for high quality

Executives, driving demand for these skills from the southern states and lifting overall salary expectations. Skills in demand will vary from industry to industry (e.g. Aged Care & Financial Services – Governance and Compliance; Mining, Energy & Infrastructure – Technical and Project Delivery) however effective leadership, flexibility and change management skills will be essential for most leadership roles.”

Tim Turner – Partner, Brisbane



Information is everywhere. It’s no longer about gaining information, it’s what you do with it that matters. Through LinkedIn, SEEK Talent, Facebook and social media, it’s not difficult to ‘connect’ with people these days. However, it’s the level of the relationship with your connections that is most important when it comes to best utilising your ‘network’.

face to face meeting.jpg

In 2019, the strengthening of relationships through face-to-face meetings will be more important than ever, given the number of texts, emails, calls, social media messages and LinkedIn notes people will continue to receive daily. As this information competes more and more for people’s attention, the in-person relationship prevails even more as the most impactful way to form and build meaningful relationships, and in turn, hiring outcomes.

As is the case as each new year dawns, there are always certain risks and unknowns. It would be my opinion that the risks of 2019 will include the following:

1) Instability in the political leadership of the USA due to the Mueller investigation.
2) The trade war between the USA and China escalating and impacting the global (and Australian) economy.
3) Interest rates in Australia increasing more quickly than expected dampening the local economy.
4) The decrease of property prices together with the lack of wages growth snowballing to decrease consumer spending dramatically.
5) A “no deal” on Brexit could greatly affect the European market.

Now I am aware these risks may seem grim, and large, however at any point in time there are always risks and on balance, our expectation is for the market to continue to improve, leading to increased demand for talent across all the areas in which we recruit. There is a large suite of infrastructure projects being promised up the eastern seaboard which should add to GDP and the economy, this will mean talented professionals will be harder to find and therefore demand for quality recruitment firms that can access talent will remain strong.

Overall, I think we are in for another exciting year in 2019! Thank you to all of our customers and clients who supported us in 2018, we look forward to working with you all again in 2019 and seeing success across the board for all of you, as well as our team at Sharp & Carter.


Stephen Carter and all the team at Sharp & Carter