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The perennial misunderstanding of the key skills and core competencies that make up the job of a recruitment consultant is formalised in the Jobs and Skills Australia (JSA) website.

JSA is the Albanese government’s replacement for the Morrison government’s National Skills Commission. Its mission “is to be a catalyst in activating the potential of Australia’s human capital to meet the present and future skills needs.”

JSA has been operational since last November although legislation permanently establishing its existence and role was passed only four months ago.

A key function of JSA is Australian Skills Classifications* designed to define the skills that underpin jobs in Australia.

The Classification identifies three types of skills for every occupation: specialist tasks, technology tools and core competencies. Similar specialist tasks are grouped together into skills clusters, which are further grouped into skills cluster families.

The December update to the ASC, released yesterday, has identified 1,619 occupations, an increase of around 18% from the previous list.

It’s a comprehensive list, with some jobs unlikely to be found on more than one or two recruitment agency vacancy reports in this country, for example:

  • Goat herder (“Attend to live farm or open range animals that include goats”)
  • Chimney Sweep (“Keep chimneys in clean and orderly condition”)
  • Feltmaker (”Set up, operate, or tend machines that produce felt”)
  • Saw Doctor (“Repairs, sets and sharpens blades for circular, band and other saws” – not to be conflated with a Saw Sharpener, which is a distinct and separate occupation)
  • Kelp Harvester (“Manually or through dredging, harvest kelp”)
  • Mountain or Glacier Guide (“Plans, organises and provides guided trips for individuals or groups on mountains or glaciers” – not to be conflated with a Climbing Guide, Trekking Guide or Outdoor Adventure Instructor or Caving Guide, each a distinct and separate occupation).

You will be pleased to know Recruitment Consultant is one of the 1,6,19 occupations on the list.

Occupation type ANZSCO 6, ANZSCO code 223112, is summarised as “Interviews applicants to determine their job requirements and suitability for particular jobs and assists employers to find suitable staff.”

Diving into the Recruitment Consultant page on JSA the list of skills contains some skills unlikely to be part of the daily activities of most recruitment agency recruiters (eg “Implement organisational policy or process changes”).

Of most interest to me was the level of competency required for each of the ten core competencies (see below).


Ranked 9th out of the ten core competencies was Problem solving with a required competency level of 5/10.

Investigating further I find the following definition:

Problem solving: Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.

The 1 to 10 scale used for Problem solving is as follows (note: this is the scale used for assessing the level of Problem solving required for each of the 1,619 ANZSCO occupations):

Score Proficiency level Anchor value
1 Basic Respond to a red screen alert and turn a machine off
2 Basic Approach a supervisor for advice before restarting a machine
3 Basic Lay out tools to complete a job
4 Intermediate Break a complex problem into manageable parts and follow a plan of action
5 Intermediate Find evidence to support a history essay in a rare document
6 Intermediate Redesign a floor layout to take advantage of new manufacturing techniques
7 Intermediate Evaluate a construction project and recommend changes to comply with external standards and regulations
8 High Examine records and data to investigate and prosecute corporate criminals
9 High Develop and implement a plan to provide emergency relief for a major metropolitan area
10 High Write a thesis on solar hydrogen generation from rust using 3­D nanostructured photoelectrodes


Not having a career outside of the recruitment sector makes me biased and not the best person to objectively assess the minimum level of a recruitment consultant’s relative problem solving capabilities using the provided anchor values, but surely it’s at least a 7?

I nominate 7 because the anchor value for 7 includes ‘recommend’ indicating the requirement to influence another person on the path to solving the problem.

Recruitment consultants cannot solve problems in a vacuum – all problem solving undertaken by recruitment consultants involves influencing others, whether they be colleagues, candidates or hiring managers.

Of the 19 skills the JSA lists for Recruitment Consultant, none of the skill descriptors uses the word ‘influence’. I can find ‘advise’, ‘collaborate’, ‘inform’, ‘guidance’, ‘review’, ‘assess’, instruction’ and ‘participate’, but no mention of ‘influence’.

Oral Communication, another of the ten core competencies, doesn’t really cover this area either, ascertained by a score of 8’s anchor value being described as, “Explain a complex procedure or process to a client, taking into account linguistic needs and cultural sensitivities.”

Filling a job, especially in more recent times, has been a relentless succession of problem solving for a recruitment consultant from broadening the client’s selection criteria to negotiating with a candidate about their remuneration package.

The very best recruiters I ever worked with, or coached, were masterful problem solvers.

These big billers saw their job as much more than filling a job or placing candidate – it was about satisfying the underlying problem the filled job solved i.e. making the hiring manager look good (because they led an effective team that exceeded expectations) and stimulating the candidate (because the candidate’s strengths were utilised and developed within a thriving organisational culture).

End-user clients have the obvious alternatives of instructing hiring managers to recruit for themselves or investing in internal recruiters and rectech platforms, yet they continue to invest in recruitment consultants – surely a strong market signal of how effective our problem solving skills are.

*Australian Skills Classification, Jobs and Skills Australia, Commonwealth of Australia. Used under Creative Commons BY 4.0 licence.

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