Employers in Melbourne are finding that in the war for talent, the city itself and its reputation for liveability is becoming a key weapon.
In August 2016, Melbourne was named the world’s most liveable city by the influential Economics Intelligence Unit for an unprecedented sixth year in a row.

The survey crunches 30 factors related to healthcare, safety, education, infrastructure and environment in 140 cities worldwide.

The city maintained its overall liveability score of 97.5, determined by its score across five broad categories of stability (95), healthcare (100), culture and environment (95.1), education (100) and infrastructure (100).

Australia’s other major city, Sydney, dropped out of the top 10, from seventh to eleventh.

Zendesk, a global customer service software company, has based its APAC headquarters in Melbourne for the past six years and has benefited from being able to find staff in the city.

The Melbourne office was initially a sales office, but then Zendesk decided it could also develop software in the Victorian capital.

“Why did we decide to double-down on Melbourne? It’s because we started to find there’s really good talent here, there was an opportunity to build some interesting technology and there’s good universities,” says Brett Adam, Managing Director & VP Engineering.

The company has doubled its size in Melbourne over the past 18 months, to about 110 employees, and is planning to hire more. “We’re very committed to Melbourne. Melbourne is our Asia Pacific development headquarters now so we look at Melbourne as the sort of hub for our development activities in the region,” says Adam.

More than half of the Melbourne team work in software engineering and product development, and Adam says that many of them were hired from within Melbourne.

“Hiring people is hard, like anywhere there’s a lot of demand for talent, but we do find that the kind of experience we can find in the market here when we’re looking for more senior people is good,” he says.

“When we’re looking for entry-level roles there are good candidates coming out the universities locally – whether it be La Trobe, Monash, Melbourne, Deakin, and increasingly Swinburne.”

When Zendesk wants to hire from interstate or overseas, Melbourne’s liveability is a strong factor in candidates’ minds.

Along with lifestyle factors, housing prices play a significant role. While housing in Melbourne could not be described as cheap, it is more affordable than many other global cities.

“It is cheaper than Sydney and it’s a lot more accessible. You can live in an outer suburb in Melbourne and get a train and get to the CBD pretty quickly. That’s harder to do in Sydney,” says Adam.

Melbourne’s efficient rail system means people have a wide range of suburbs and price points that will still be easily accessible to their workplace.

Peter Noblet, a senior regional director at recruitment firm Hays, says Melbourne has increasingly become a drawcard for potential employees, including from overseas.

“Over the past few years, it certainly has become a selling point for people to say that there’s a role in Melbourne, come and have a look at it,” he says.

The city’s accessibility and liveability is a strong drawcard for people with families, he says.

Salaries in Melbourne are slightly lower than in Sydney, although the gap has been closing in recent years, but that is offset by a lower cost of living. “It’s a little bit more reasonably priced than in Sydney and that’s across all areas from property right through to clothing right through to consumer products,” says Melbourne-based Noblet. “Eating out in a restaurant in Melbourne is still cheaper than it is at a high-class restaurant in Sydney.”

Marissa Senzaki, is the recruiter for the Asia-Pacific headquarters of workplace communications tool, Slack, based in Melbourne.
She has her own experience of the city’s liveability, having moved to Melbourne for a short-term assignment in January, then deciding to relocate permanently from San Francisco.

“It was my first time in Australia so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I find that Melbourne really is sort of the sister city to San Francisco. There is definitely a similar vibe and I just loved that it’s very diverse and multicultural. I loved the arts and food. It’s just a very relaxed and friendly environment,” she says.

“I think it’s a very liveable city because it’s easy to get around, there’s always exciting things happening – whether that be gallery exhibits or new restaurants that are opening up or live music. There’s something for everyone.”

Slack has 35 staff for its Melbourne headquarters and wants to double that number over the next year.

While it wants to create job opportunities for people already in Melbourne, Slack also hires from further afield. “All the people that I talk to are open to relocation and really see Melbourne as kind of a great city for start-up culture,” she says.Read more: http://paidcontent.afr.com/trade-and-investment-victoria/victoria/article/melbournes-liveability-lures-international-staff/

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