Where are people 'really' finding their mining industry jobs?

Male and female miners in high vis and hard hates

What's the most effective method for getting a job in the mining industry?

That’s the latest question asked by Mining People International’s Polling Booth.

Almost 400 people, representing a broad cross-section of the industry’s jobseekers, voted in the poll. The results were fascinating.  Here they are:

1st Applying directly to employers 44.2%

Applying via recruitment companies


Professional networking (for example, LinkedIn, previous colleagues, organised networking events)


Social networking (for example, Facebook, Instagram, local clubs, social gatherings, school groups)


So, what stands out?

Applying directly to employers

This method, unsurprisingly, rated as the most effective.   

Unfortunately, we don’t have a previous survey to compare figures, but I suspect this would still have been the highest rated method 10 years ago, too.

That said, we’re also fairly certain that inside the mining industry the 44 per cent attributed to applying direct to employers would have been lower back then.

It is no secret that during the recent ‘cost out’ phase encountered by the mining industry, many employers have chosen to fill roles themselves before coming to a recruitment firm later.

Very interestingly, though, many candidates tell us that while they may have a higher success rate when a job is advertised directly, the actual customer experience and service they get from dealing directly with employers is often poorer than what they get from recruitment firms. It seems that people continue to act incredibly pragmatically.

Our five-year prediction

We expect the direct approach to decline as a source of successful recruitment experiences. As software and technology platforms relating to recruitment and search become vastly more sophisticated, and as costs are driven down, it will simply become a non-core activity inside mining companies and cheaper and more efficient to outsource the function to boutique search experts.

By way of example, we now host our content management system in the cloud and have numerous specialist recruitment and search related ‘apps’ to manage the administration, the candidate experience, the data interrogation, as well as — most importantly — ongoing relationship management. We see very few principal employers with the expertise to do this and believe the gap will get bigger as the processes become more specialised. 

We think the usual mining industry cyclical winds will also play a role, with the supply and demand equation once again moving us back to a candidate shortage and, therefore, forcing mining employers to use boutique market expert recruiters.

Applying via recruitment companies

Recruitment firms can do well to be mindful of some of the points above as well. While certain structural winds may be at your back, the candidate experience must continue to improve or you will not participate in the wins. Recruiters trying to shift the blame for a poor candidate experience to their client, is just lazy. If as a consultant you take the job on from a client, then it is ‘your’ job, representing ‘you’, ‘your’ company and ‘your’ brand.

Our five-year prediction

We expect this method to stay roughly the same or slightly increase as a source of successful recruitment experiences. Recruiters will gain some of the increased work that employers outsource, but at the same time some recruiters will definitely lose some market share to technology platforms and social networking.

Professional networking

We could have removed LinkedIn from this question and included it in with social networking. It raises an interesting question though as to whether it is a social network or a professional network. We did previously run a separate poll asking whether LinkedIn has been helpful in searching for a new job? It was early days for the MPi Polling Centre but some 100-people replied with the following results.

Not at all 38.4%
Somewhat 34.3%
Definitely 27.3%

If we consider that only 27 per cent said LinkedIn had been successful, and that some of these people would also have had success using other methods, we suspect the social networking result in our latest poll was only modestly contributed to by LinkedIn. This is consistent with the anecdotal evidence we hear.

We continue to hear from jobseekers that the good old “worth-of-mouth” referral from previous colleagues is the major contributor to the 23 per cent who found a job through professional networking.

Our five-year prediction

If we believe platforms like LinkedIn represent “professional networking”, then we think this area might increase slightly over time.

If we don’t believe LinkedIn fits here, then we expect this area to stay roughly where it is now with the word-of-mouth referrals from previous colleagues continuing to play a key role in a successful job search.

Social networking

For all the talk of the rise of social networking, it seems it still rates poorly as an effective method for finding a job. We have no doubt that this will rise, but what we notice in our own endeavors is that a lot of social networking is unstructured and the best way to actually get a job (when you want one) is to treat it like a project — create a list of targets, really clarify your goals and apply your efforts in a systematic manner.

As a mining industry jobseeker , most social media platforms don’t really enable this. They should be used as one source of leads, or one tool, but as part of a broader project. Click here to read our dos and don’ts of social media for jobseekers.

Our five-year prediction

We expect this method to rise as a source of successful recruitment experiences as software and social platforms better structure the user experience to enable jobseekers to better organise their job searches.

Our five-year prediction for mining industry jobseekers in summary

1. Professional networking No change to slight increase     
2. Social networking Increase
3. Applying directly to employers Decrease
4. Applying via recruitment companies Increase

Some of our predictions are based on our observations and anecdotal comments, but they are also backed by some hard data. If you would like to comment or have ideas for future polls, please let us know here.

If you would like to visit the MPi Polling Centre, view all previous poll results and articles or contribute to the current poll, please do so here.

Steve Heather FRCSA
Managing Director & Principal Executive Search 
Mining People International
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]