Features

The untapped Aussie talent that is ready to transform your business

- September 24, 2019 3 MIN READ

Small business owners know that finding and retaining good staff is essential to your commercial success and attracting exceptional talent is sure to be a key part of your business strategy. But new research suggests you might be missing out on a group of talented and willing Australian workers who come with skills and experience that could give your business a competitive edge. Jay Munro, Head of Career Insights with global job site Indeed explains.

A new report from Indeed reveals some surprising insights into an Australian talent pool that is often overlooked – our returned expats. The Indeed study found that while expats return to Australia with impressive qualifications, they are struggling to find work.

In fact, a staggering 65 per cent of the surveyed expats and Australian recruitment professionals agreed that Australian businesses are creating an environment that discourages people who are working overseas from returning.

Australian expats return from overseas with a wealth of skills and experience, often in global settings where they’ve been exposed to a range of diverse business challenges.

Top 5 skills that expats can bring to your business 


  • Management of culturally diverse staff
  • Management of international stakeholders
  • Exposure to varied international legal and regulatory requirements
  • Management of internationally based staff
  • Complex project management

And yet, Australian businesses are missing out on returned expat talent because they’re overlooking experience that they don’t immediately recognise as having value in a local context.

What this means for small businesses owners is that there is a huge talent pool that is being overlooked and could be the answer to bringing your business a competitive edge.

In fact, more than half (57 per cent) of the recruiters surveyed said that recruiting returned Australians has longer term strategic benefits.

Do expats want to work for small businesses?


The study found that when returned expats do find work back home, a quarter of them end up working in a small business. And what’s more is that they’re loyal – a third of the surveyed expats were still with their first employer since returning home. Of those who had since left that first job, they stayed an average of more than two years with that first employer.

So, how can Australian small businesses tap into this talent?

An open mind to transferrable skills

Small businesses should apply an open mind when assessing candidates for a role and think about the skills that a candidate may have, which could bring a fresh perspective to your business – regardless of whether they’ve obtained these in another industry and country.

When applying for roles back home, expat job candidates are ready to be flexible and take the skills they’ve honed abroad into new roles. But these expats reported that Australian businesses underestimate the degree to which skills are transferable across industries.

One way to counter this is to do away with looking for familiarity in candidates’ resumés, a common practice that is flawed because it’s informed by unconscious bias. Looking for familiar qualities doesn’t actually predict performance when you’re assessing talent, and doesn’t necessarily correlate with the skills they need for a role.

If you’re a small business with an opening for a new role, think about the skills and qualities that could help take your business to the next level – they might be the very skills that an expat has developed in their work overseas. Local experience may seem like the answer because it’s familiar to you, but bringing some global experience into your team may give you new insights into doing business differently, or improving systems you already have in place.

Read the full report “They Still Call Australia Home: Expats returning home are key to unlocking corporate Australia’s competitive edge” at https://au.indeed.com/hire/returning-expats-report