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Expert Insight - James Witcombe - SMAART Recruitment

James Witcombe, Director at Smaart Rectuitment, joins us as this months industry expert. With a distinguished career in recruitment, and a focus on contact centres, there is no one better placed than James to dive into the current job market standards in Australia.  


James, you've been at Smaart Recruitment for many years now and it's a brand that has got a reputation for being the go-to recruiters in the contact centre community. How did this growth come about and was it always a plan to have a focus on the industry? 

When SMAART Recruitment started back in 2005 we worked with a handful of contact centres and a handful of organisations that weren’t contact centres. When you start a new business you take any work that you can get, but we also planned to specialise and focus on growing our contact centre recruitment arm is a priority.

It doesn’t happen overnight though, and it’s a very competitive space. Over the last 5 years we’ve invested heavily in things like the Contact Centre Best Practice Report and Contact Centre Mentoring Program to really position ourselves as the market leader for recruitment in the industry.


You clearly have a passion for recruitment and that comes across with your work with The Candidate Coach. Can you tell us a little more about that and the work that you do?

It’s actually really challenging for job seekers to know where to go to get help. And even as a recruitment agency, it’s very time consuming for us to work one-on-one with job seekers. So we created The Candidate Coach – it’s an online coaching platform. It has 35 “on demand” videos that job seekers can access to make sure they are best prepared for every step of the recruitment process.


Pocket_Dial Oct

The latest figures show that the unemployment rate in Australia has remained unchanged at 3.7%. What does this mean for the average business in Australia and how does this impact recruitment?

We are still effectively at “record low” unemployment, the lowest level of unemployment since it was first recorded 55 years ago. Australian organisations have never found it so hard to recruit good staff, particularly towards to lower end of the pay scale – jobs like retail, hospitality and contact centre have been hit hard.

As a recruitment agency we like unemployment to be low because there is higher demand for our services, however at times over the last 18 months even we would welcome some relief.

Can you share some tips for businesses looking to recruit in the current market? How do they make themselves an attractive place to work?

Speed is key at the moment. If a “good” candidate applies for five jobs on a Monday, they will probably have interviews lined up with four of them by Friday. So, you need to make sure you call applicants within 24-48 hours of applying.

After that the important part is to continue to move at speed through the interview process. Don’t rush – but keep things moving and communicate with your candidates at least once every two days.

On top of that, flexibility is key at the moment. Agents want to work from home at least 2-3 days per week and be given some flexibility with their rostoring. And with the rising cost of living, there is a lot of pressure on salaries too.

Similarly, what would be some quick-fire tips for a job seeker in the current market?
Just because unemployment is low it doesn’t mean that it is necessarily going to be “easy” for every job seeker. Only apply for jobs that you are genuinely interested in, and put time into tailoring your application for every single role. Practice your interview technique, and always ask for feedback on how you can improve.


Smaart Recruitment has developed the Contact Centre Best Practice Report to be the major industry report in Australia. But as you've always said, a report is a moment in time and things change. With that in mind, do you have any plans to release an update prior to the next major report? 

On October 31, 2023 we will be releasing our next report. We’ve called it a “Snapshot Report”. It looks at some of the key areas that contact centres have continued to change over the year – WFH, attrition, absenteeism, AI adoption and more. From the 31st October you will be about to download from https://contactcentrebestpractice.com.au/




Daniel Harding
Post by Daniel Harding
Daniel is the Director of MaxContact Australia. Since launching the business in Australia with its first clients in 2019, it has rapidly grown to become the solution of choice for businesses across Australia and New Zealand. Daniel has a comittment to ensuring that MaxContact Australia continues to grow whilst delivering value for all customers.