By any stretch of the imagination, new positions are becoming harder to fill. Vacancies for interior designers, architects and landscape architects, and urban and regional planners were higher in July than they have been for several years; they were up by 37 per cent, 26.6 percent and 24.6 per cent respectively compared with the same month last year, according to Department of Employment figures. Candidates – according to recruitment outfit Hays – are becoming more particular about their roles, while a shortage of quality candidates had made life ‘more challenging’ for practices, especially those wanting to recruit on a temporary basis.

Salaries, too, are rising. Around two-thirds of architecture and design firms in Australia are offering annual salary increases of three per cent or more according to an annual survey by the Association of Consulting Architects. Last year, only half were doing so.

With this in mind, recruiters say a number of strategies can pay dividends. As well offering benefits such as flexible working arrangements along with opportunities for technical challenge and career development (and, obviously, competitive levels of remuneration), these extend to creating an environment and culture in which people naturally want to work.

Adam Shapley, senior regional director of Hays Architecture, says it is important to create an ‘employee value proposition’ which talks about the firm’s values and culture as well as the rewards, opportunities and experience of working there, and to be active in communicating this through emerging mediums such as social media.

“By communicating what you stand for and the experience of working at your company, you’ll attract like-minded candidates who are a natural fit with your company and the way you do business,” he said.

Randstad employment market analyst Steve Shepherd agrees, saying the value for firms in using social media to demonstrate their pipeline of work as well as how they deliver on aspects such as work/life balance cannot be understated.

“What we see with companies who stand out as places to work is that they do a good job of conveying their employer brand to their target audience and they do this across a variety of mediums,” he said.  “So they don’t just focus on salary to attract staff they show how they meet their other needs as well by understanding the needs of the groups and demographic of the groups they are targeting.”