What is motivating mining jobseekers early in 2019?


Our latest survey of mining jobseekers shows their motivations for switching jobs are changing. See our results.

Every year or so we like to survey mining industry employees and jobseekers to try to establish if there have been changes to the core reasons people either start looking for a new role or become unhappy with the one they’re in.

We’ve just done it again.

We asked jobseekers: Please select the major reason you’re looking for your next job opportunity, or, if you are not looking right now, what was the reason you made your last mining job change? 

The poll was conducted in January 2019, received a huge response with almost 800 votes and, as often happens, threw up some surprises.

Here’s what we found.

Mining jobs and your priorities

Question: What takes priority when you’re searching for your next mining job opportunity?

Respondents Percentage
Work-life balance    315 39.82%
Career development   298 37.67%
Salary 156 19.72%
Other    22 2.78%

We then compared the results to the previous two polls on the same topic.

Respondents  Jan 2019  Jan 2018  Aug 2016
Work-life balance  315 39.82% 40.48% 47.24%
Career development 298 37.67% 37.80% 28.64%
Salary     156 19.72% 15.77% 24.12%
Other   22 2.78% 5.65% NA

Some observations on jobseeker priorities in mining

It seems there was a higher dissatisfaction level with pay back in 2016, but that has been somewhat corrected now.

It also seems the dissatisfaction with work-life balance has been somewhat improved, although along with career development, these remain the two stand-out priorities for people searching for their next mining job.

This is consistent with our observation that the mining industry has used some of its new-found profitability to raise salaries after a period of stagnation.

Additionally, we have noticed a trend towards putting a lot more emphasis on family-friendly rosters in recent years.

What effect will the laws of supply and demand have?

We think it will be interesting to see how this thirst for career development will be satisfied when you consider the significantly reduced numbers of undergraduates across most resources industry disciplines.

But beware the potential traps!

Our final point here is a contradictory one in that we always run a similar poll, which we deliberately keep very separate from the one above. We like to ask people a quiet different question: Do you feel you are being paid what you are worth?

We last ran this poll in March 2018 and we will run it again soon, but as you can see it asks a much more emotionally orientated question.

Last year we received 450 votes so, again, it was a material sample. Here are the results we received:

No 78.45%
Yes 21.56%


Are mining jobseekers leaving for push or pull factors?

So, it seems pretty clear (at least, it was in March last year) that while many people declared salary was not their major priority when looking for a new job, that was only likely to be the case because they felt confident when they found the right job, it would be one offering pay they felt was fair. As a result their priority was other things, like career development and work-life balance.

This should cause us to consider answers to the more emotional question and whether we need to more closely understand what people feel they are worth.

It is an interesting question that challenges the old conundrum about motivation: “Am I (or they) running away from something I (or they) don’t like or am I (or they) being attracted to something that looks better?”

Lastly, of course, the other common issue here is falling into the trap of competing for mining talent solely on salary. This is something I wrote about recently and you can read that piece here.

Steve Heather signature
Steve Heather – BAppSc (Mining Engineering) WASM, FRCSA

Managing Director & Principal Executive Search - Mining People International (MPi)

Fellow/National Board Member – Recruitment, Consulting & Staffing Association Aust. & N.Z. (RCSA)

[email protected]