Which Jobs are Australian Small Businesses Struggling to Fill in 2019?

A woman weight training while her female coach looks on

Small businesses account for 97% of all Australian enterprises which really drives home their significance in the local job market. And growth seems imminent. Last year, Victoria alone experienced a 4.8 per cent growth rate in its small businesses sector, the highest on record so far.

However, small business owners understand that where there is growth there will be challenges, especially in the area of recruitment. In 2018, 48% of small to medium-sized businesses found the recruitment process challenging. Tighter budgets, limited time and no dedicated HR department are just some of the sticking points. Fast growth in particular sectors and the need to fill roles quickly also creates strain. Then there’s the matter of demand trumping supply, which often leaves small businesses with roles they can’t fill.

Australian small business roles that are difficult to fill

We dug into our data and compiled a list of the jobs that small businesses find the hardest to fill. The list outlines the top 20 roles ranked by the percentage of those remaining open after 60 days on the job market.

Hardest to fill small business jobs

The hardest to fill small business jobs in Australia in 2019, high to low percentage: English teacher; facilitator; chiropractor; general practitioner; office cleaner; fitness trainer; sonographer; swim instructor; soccer coach; owner operator driver; real estate agent; automotive technician; bus driver; air conditioning engineer; dental technician; plasterer; controller; local driver; fully qualified architect; instructor

Social and economic factors influence hard-to-fill roles but the job market remains unpredictable

By comparison, our list has changed dramatically from last year which can be attributed to social and economic factors. This year, ‘English teacher’ gets the top gong for the hardest role to fill. Not surprising given the education sector has experienced a surge in the number of school-aged children which has increased the demand for teachers exponentially.

Making the list two years running is ‘general practitioner’. As Australians live longer, our ageing population is putting pressure on the healthcare system. As a result, general practitioners have been in short supply for some time now, especially in regional areas.

Of course, you can’t always predict when a role will be difficult to fill. In 2018, ‘fitness instructor’ didn’t make our list despite the fitness industry experiencing rapid growth over the past five years. However, the industry is still expected to grow from $2.2 billion to $2.4 billion in the next four years which is likely to be pushing up demand. As Australians become more focused on their health  we could see more fitness roles on the list in the coming years.

Hard-to-fill jobs become easier to fill with the right recruitment strategy

The good news is that despite a skill shortage that could affect your sector, we found that 73% of job seekers believe their application will make more of an impact with a small business1. In addition, 58% also think they have a better chance of being successful2. But don’t rest on these laurels. Here’s how you can attract more candidates that are the right fit for your business.

Write job posts that leap off the page for the right reasons

Creating the right job titles and descriptions is your first line in defence for attracting the right candidates. Avoid buzzwords like ‘ninja’ or ‘rockstar’ as they don’t offer great exposure when job seekers are searching for roles. Keep your job descriptions clear and concise, highlighting both the skills and the type of professional you’re looking for. Use a tone that captures the essence of your business to appeal to like-minded people.

Ensure your job ads appear where people are looking

Small businesses sometimes avoid online job seeking platforms because of a perception that they’re an expensive way to hire. Unfortunately, by doing so they’re missing out on opportunities to attract great talent. It’s important to know there are platforms you can use to post your job for free, like Indeed. While it is free to post a job on Indeed*, it’s important to remember that new jobs are added to Indeed every day. As these new roles appear, organic listings drop in the search results, potentially burying your job ad.

Sponsoring jobs on Indeed is a great way to make your opportunities stand out. Be sure to also have an online presence such as a website or social media page as job seekers are wary of businesses that don’t have a digital footprint.

Offer flexible work arrangements to attract candidates seeking work-life balance

In a recent Indeed survey, we found that while remuneration is important to job seekers, 45%2 of respondents believe that flexibility is still a major drawcard. If you cater to those who want to work from home occasionally or have job share options, highlight these flexible work conditions in your job ad.

Other perks that make candidates say ‘yes’

Proving again that pay isn’t everything, 75% of employees are open to other rewards. These benefits may include more annual leave, health insurance, paid parental leave, gym memberships, regular social events and a positive work culture.

It’s also worth noting that unlike large companies, small businesses usually aren’t encumbered with the same bureaucracy. If you think you’ve found the right person, speed up your job offer. Job seekers usually have more than one application out there in the marketplace, so be sure to capitalise on your agility and move fast on the people that will be a great asset to your business. You can seal the deal with this job offer letter.


To create this list, we calculated the percentage of postings per job title that are open more than 60 days in Australia from January – March 2019 for companies with fewer than 150 employees.

1Indeed partnered with Lonergan Research to survey 1,033 Australian workers in January 2019.
2Decipher/FocusVision on behalf of Indeed, n=1,000.

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