Guest Post: Why You Can’t Find a Senior…Anyone At All.
IGEA member Kirtsy Parkin runs recruitment agency Supaglu. Kirsty has been sourcing creative talent for businesses across the games, vfx, post-production and advertising industries for over 25 years. She founded, scaled and sold a design-focussed creative recruitment business in the 00’s before moving into development of CG and VFX training, and talent sourcing. She began specialist creative talent sourcing agency Supaglu in 2022 to support the growing games, animation and VFX sector in Australia.
In this piece, she explores the difficulties of finding senior staff and strategies to address it.
Why you can’t find a Senior…anyone at all.
If you’ve been searching for senior talent in the Australian gamedev industry in 2022, then you’ll probably agree that that market in Australia fits gamesjobsdirect.com’s Isaac Sellar’s description of the European market as “bottom-heavy”.
This might sound like a negative term, but what he means is that all the investment in training and education poured into the games sector over the last decade or so is starting to pay off, and we have a flood of trained graduates and juniors moving into the market.
More international game companies are setting up studios in Australia, attracted by our rebates and our lifestyle. Coupled with the growth of local studios this puts growth projection for the sector at around 30% over the next couple of years – and while that means there is greater opportunity for all those juniors than ever before, it leaves us with a huge problem around mid to senior career hiring, and above into executive level. This growth pressure is compounded by the fact that across all sectors over COVID, over 600,000 international visa holders in Australia went back to their home countries. Their roles were not supported by Jobkeeper, and border insecurities meant some felt they should return to their families while they could. Many have not returned.
Businesses from the games sector across the country have reported difficulties in recruiting experienced game engineers/game developers, technical artists, riggers, and animators. There are shortages in high-end generalists, but also anyone with strong experience in a particular niche and of course Leads and Supervisors of all kinds.
Basically, there is a shortage of experience.
So, what can we do?
A good place to look for inspiration is the VFX industry in Australia. Like the games sector, they need their artists located in Oz to access rebates. They’ve also worked on international projects for years now and many companies (not just the big ones) have developed a talent pipeline which has a double-ended focus. They work with universities and training institutions to identify great junior talent, but they’ve also built an international pipeline using project-based business visas (such as the 408) to bring highly experienced artists and devs to Australia. Here are a few suggestions:
- Don’t be afraid to consider business migration. It gives you access to great talent across the planet, and most of them want to come to Australia.
- Personal job tailoring or “hyper-personalisation” is one of the newest buzz phrases in talent at the moment. Create the boundaries of the role to suit your employee. Flexibility is starting to become a standard expectation, and most candidates will consider work/life balance as well as salary. For some, it’s even more important.
- Consider a four-day work week (in Japan, trials of a 4-day work week resulted in a 40% increase in productivity). And yes – it’s four days for a full-time salary.
- What does your company stand for as a brand? This one is really important. Mid-career professionals want to work at big international studios because they’re grown up with the games they make. They’re in love with the brand. Smaller companies can create attractive employer brands, too. They just need to be creative about it and invest in marketing.
- Offer opportunities for career growth and upskilling within your team. This one’s about retention. If you know one of your key staff members is seeking a leadership role, work out how that can happen without them having to leave you.
The talent shortage in Australia is likely to be with us for some time yet – maybe even permanently. Even though we’re training more junior talent, the Australian birth rate is sitting at 1.58 – less than replacement. So, we’re going to need to be creative, embrace change and lift our heads to look beyond our shores if we want to meet the future.