Executives moving to the country
Episode 76 - Senior executive jobs in regional Australia: What is available and who are the successful candidates? - featuring regional recruiter Zoe Allan
Are there jobs for corporate professionals in regional Australia?
The pandemic has changed the way we work. Corporate professionals are now working from home, and many people have time to reflect on what they want to pursue in life. Because of these changes, many have reflected on moving to the regions to live and work there.
But are there good jobs for corporate professionals in regional Australia? I invited Zoe Allan, the founder of Millano Appointments based in regional Victoria, to talk about it. I had many questions for her, and I was particularly interested in knowing more about senior professionals' success rates moving and working into the regions. Is it worth applying for a job in a region you don't know? Who are regional companies interested in attracting?
Things to consider before moving to regional Australia
Zoe's advice is that if you consider moving to the regions, think about moving your whole life and not just for your career. There will be so many elements that will be different from city life, and one example is remuneration, and remuneration can be pretty different in a regional job.
You should also consider all the factors involved in working in the regions and not just apply for a regional job because you lack options and job opportunities in your city.
If it is burning inside you to make that move and you want to change your lifestyle, live, and work in a regional town, do it. Zoe believes there's a better chance you will adapt better and find job opportunities if you take the plunge. You can commute from Ballarat or other Australian regions in the short term, especially as many workplaces don't require professionals to come to the office every day anymore. It's not always ideal, and it can be a little bit challenging. "But when you are living there, you're sending out those vibes, and you're already getting that feel for the place. Drive around and look at things and start to look at the options and the housing and those sorts of lifestyle things to make it more three three-dimensional for you", says Zoe.
So if it does mean you still have to commute for six or 12 months, but it is the right move for you, then don't be afraid to do it.
What are the available white-collar jobs in a town like Ballarat?
According to Zoe, there is work in both the public and private sectors: "there are businesses there looking for CFOs, company secretaries, directors of commercial operations, art gallery directors and facilities manager, heads of procurement, heads of engineering and manufacturing, board positions, senior finance roles, big HR business partners, all these pivotal types of roles," states Zoe.
It's a treasure trove of organizations that you don't know exists there until you start looking. And there are many opportunities at the moment to make a real difference, and they are looking for the right people to lead and help implement transformational change.
Common traits of successful regional executives
The move should not just be for professional reasons but also personal reasons, because it is all-encompassing when you work in the region. Leaders have to be aware of the extra accountability that comes from leading in a small town, where you know everyone, and everyone knows each other.
"There are limitations, challenges, and a lack of resources in the regions, but also there are great opportunities. You'll be utilizing your mind, creativity, engaging with others, and getting others involved in the thought process. So don't be afraid to use all of those different things, and be prepared to be a lot more accountable and creative in the way that you go about," says Zoe about leaders who succeed in small regional towns.
It is also important to be ready to implement change. According to Zoe, being prepared and experienced with transformational, cultural, and organizational change is necessary. When regional employers are looking for senior executives to join their organization, it's often about driving some type of change.
Is there a preference for candidates that live or have links to regional Australia?
Zoe tells us it's a mix of candidates with links to the region and candidates with no connection but the necessary skills and experience. It depends on the organization and the job advertised: "there is that excitement to bring people from other places and bring in that fresh thinking, fresh ideas, but balancing those with local people. So it is knowing what the strategy is, the objective, and then finding people who can tick the boxes and want to go on that journey."
What is certain is that the regions need more professionals, primarily forward thinkers ready to enable successful growth and change.
Zoe's advice on what to put in your application for regional jobs
Applying for a job in a regional town requires you to think outside the box and move away from the expected protocols of the city recruitment and selection process.
For example, it is a good idea to address the lifestyle change in the application process. It's ok for you to manage why you are looking for a job in the regions if you are not living there. And it is also recommended that you research the region and not just the organization you are applying for: the more ingrained and connected you are in various levels, the more likely you are to succeed. In the regions, it's not just about the job. It's about other things that that role and that move will do for you and your life. The more you can demonstrate that in the application and recruitment process, the more it demonstrates to the potential employer you're committed to succeeding and adopting the new lifestyle that comes with the move.
The difference would probably be shown mainly in the cover letter. The cover letter is a great resource to show you understand what the company needs and that you are open to moving, and this is not just a quick application. The employer would be able to understand the candidate's motivation and reason for applying for the role.
Zoe also emphasized the importance of LinkedIn for regional recruitment. She recommended building your profile and activity so that regional employers can learn as much as possible about you.
Best way to engage in a small town if you are a new resident
Zoe recommends that you should get out as much as you can. This has been a challenge since the pandemic started. But walk around the area, go out for coffee, walk downtown, go to the art gallery, go for a drive, get out and get around, and you will notice how friendly people are. Even if you don't know anyone, try to familiarize yourself in a regional setting. And then slowly, you will start to enjoy a fascinating food culture, arts, sports, music, and festivities. "Get involved in those as much as you can, get chatting to people, and then before you know it, you're connected, and there's a lot of opportunities. Just like with anything, it's as much as you get out there and challenge yourself; you'll find that you get connected," says Zoe.
Salary range and cost of living in regional Australia
The salary range is different and lower than equivalent jobs in big cities, and this is why regional living and regional job application requires a lifestyle change. "If you intend to work in Ballarat, for example, but still have your life in Melbourne, I will encourage you to think about it because it will be a 20% or $20,000 difference. The cost of living is very different," says Zoe.
However, if you move to the region, working and living there, the salary range will be lower, but so will your living costs. And the benefits will outweigh the losses.
Remote work in the region: Working for your city employer and living in regional areas
This trend was initiated before the pandemic but is now well and truly a possibility for many professionals who work for large and small organizations in big cities: working remotely and living in regional areas. In a previous podcast interview with Alistair Freeman (Episode 55), he mentioned that many of his neighbors in regional NSW were already working remotely before the pandemic.
And Zoe Allan was on board and invested in this trend since 2015 when she set up a serviced office in Ballarat catering for freelancers, employees, and employers working remotely and needing a space to do meetings and work independently. "It's like an incubator, hot-desking, and a collaborative workspace. And it's also for people running small businesses to get out of the house and come to that space a couple of times a week and be at home."
About our guest, Zoe Allan
Based in Ballarat, Zoe Allan is a born and bred Regional Victorian with a deep knowledge of the region she calls home and a strong personal connection to the local community. She has more than 18 years of experience in Recruitment, HR, and Business Strategy Consulting throughout Australia, working with firms including Deloitte, Michael Page International, Hays, BHP, and Rio Tinto.
Since 2010 Zoe has partnered with regional organizations to develop workable methods for attracting, selecting, recruiting, and retaining the top senior talent. They require to realize their strategic objectives and achieve long-term success.
In February 2020, Zoe founded Milano Appointments, a boutique consultancy based in Ballarat specializing in recruitment and executive search services for Senior Operational, Management, C-Suite, and Board positions, exclusively for Regional Victoria.
How to connect with Zoe
Working and living regionally is a dream for many, but it is not for everyone. You have to give it a lot of thought, plan it well, and be committed to planting your roots in the region. The motivation should be not only for your career but your whole life. Otherwise, chances are you will not be successful in your regional job application. And if it is for you, there are plenty of jobs available.
And like Zoe mentioned, go to the region and get the feel of it. Visit the area to help you decide if it is something that will work for you and your family.
Resources mentioned in this episode
The Job Hunting Podcast Episode 8: Positive Redundancy: Interview with Alistair Freeman
The Job Hunting Podcast Episode 55: From city life to tropical paradise: A positive redundancy story update with Alistair Freeman.
The Job Hunting Podcast Episode 41: Escape to the country: Can remote work and the pandemic re-shape our cities and regional towns? - with Liz Ritchie
Job Hunting Made Simple: Online Course and Group Coaching Program
Timestamps to guide your listening
05:35 - Zoe's career journey and background
10:06 - Zoe's key strengths that helped in her career
12:15 - Things to consider when moving to the regions
13:49 - What are the available white-collar jobs in a town like Ballarat?
17:29 - Common traits of successful candidates
19:50 - Is there a preference for candidates that live in the region?
21:30 - Zoe's advice on what to put in your application
23:00 - Best way to engage in the region if you are new
25:06 - Difference of job applications in big cities vs. the regions
26:40 - Importance of LinkedIn
29:27 - Salary range and cost of living in the region
31:20 - More jobs advertised in the regions than in big cities
32:47 - Remote work in the region
35:54 - Who will not work well in the region?
38:03 - Final advice from Zoe
Transcript of this episode
Renata: Zoe Allan is Managing Director of Milano Appointments, a Boutique Consultancy specialized in bespoke End to End Recruitment, Outsourced HR, and Executive Search services for Rural Victoria. Zoe is based in Ballarat, a relatively large and very pretty country town in Victoria, about 2 hours from Melbourne. She has previously lived in Melbourne and overseas and has a wealth of knowledge in HR and recruitment, as well as global networks and a wealth of specialist knowledge in Senior Appointments and Executive Search.
Renata: Zoe is passionate about supporting regional organizations recruit and retain the Talented professionals, helping the region she calls home develop ongoing economic growth and a sustainable future. This is not the first time this podcast tackles the idea of white-collar professionals moving to regional towns. I will list in the episode show notes our previous episodes with Liz Ritchie, CEO of the Australian Regional Insitute, and the two episodes with Alistair Freeman, who used his redundancy to move out of the big smoke of Melbourne, taking up an opportunity in the NSW north coast.
Renata: The Regional Australia Insitute recently released a report showing that one-in-five city residents are looking to move to the regions, with more than half wanting to make the jump within the next year. So I was delighted when one of my clients introduced me to Zoe Allan, and I had many questions for her.
Renata: Are there jobs for corporate professionals in the regions? What are the key issues a city-based executive needs to consider when moving to a regional area? What types of jobs have you seen advertised in your region in the past 6 months? What are the key benefits of working in the regions or a smaller town? For those willing to make the move, what are your key recommendations? Listen up, and enjoy the chat.
Renata: Hi, Zoe, how are you?
Renata: Oh, there you are.
Zoe: Can you see me? It's very dark here today.
Renata: Oh no, it looks nice.
Zoe: Looks alright?
Renata: Yes, it does.
Zoe: How are you going?
Renata: I'm fine. Thank you. What a lovely room you have.
Zoe: Oh yeah, I’m trying to create a nice space. Look at yours. So bright.
Renata: Thank you. Isn't it interesting now that we have these zooms and we know what people's houses look like?
Zoe: There used to be such a realm of, you know, mystery.
Renata: I know. It has certainly changed a lot, haven’t they?
Zoe: They have.
Renata: Yeah. But today, it's all about you. Why don’t we start by letting the listeners know where you are and a little bit about your background and your career.
Zoe: Yeah, absolutely. I'll try and keep it brief, but I'm based in Ballarat in regional Victoria, and this is where I was born and grew up in Ballarat. And then, when I finished my secondary schooling, I went to Melbourne university, and I did a psych arts degree, and I really didn't have a lot of ideas about what I wanted to do, but I wanted to get lots of information about the world, and learn a lot. So I went to Melbourne to learn about the world outside Ballarat. And at that time, it was very limited in Ballarat in terms of opportunities once you were finished school. And I took note of that at the time, and I always thought I'd love to come back one day. Even at 18, I thought I'd love to come back one day and be able to do more here and give more opportunities for young people and people with their careers.
Zoe: So I did a psych arts degree, and then I added a business degree to it because I wasn't sure really what to do. I had all this knowledge of anthropology and history and all these sorts of things, politics, that I didn't know what to do with it. So I went and did a business degree as well. And then through networks and meeting people, I got into recruitment, and I found that fascinating working with, you know, Melbourne with lots of high-end firms. But after about five years, I really wanted to understand what was happening behind my client's doors and to be able to understand more about the workplace and the challenges that my clients were experiencing. So I went into internal recruitment, and I did that with Michael Page international, and I became the W.A. New Zealand and Victorian internal recruitment manager. And that enabled me to really understand the challenges with sourcing and workforce development.
Zoe: And I did a lot of graduate programs and those types of things. So I got to understand the whole organisation understanding of recruitment and acquisition and workforce planning and strategies and those sorts of things. And it definitely was where my passion was. And then, the global financial crisis began. And then I had an opportunity. I made a decision to go and lived in Europe for a year. And during that time, I really got into HR, but again, I wanted to understand the whole perspective of the organization. So I needed a commerce HR degree, a master's, and that helped me. I wanted to understand finance from the HR perspective, but to have a seat at the HR, a seat at the business table, to be a strategic HR thinker. So then I started to get interested in the read back into the regions and thinking about the challenges and to bring my big picture thinking from working with companies like BHP and Rio and big mining organizations, lots of different industries. But to bring that thinking back to the regional setting, where there are limitations, there are challenges, limited budgets, limited opportunity to attract people.
Zoe: Those sorts of things were happening. That was in 2010. But I also saw that as opportunities as well, to bring that positive thinking and to bring big picture thinking to limited areas, and so that was really exciting. So since 2010, I've been back in Ballarat, where I've lived and worked and raised a family, and just help local organizations to see their limitations as opportunities too, I think. And to bring working in recruitment as well and bringing more people to the region. And we can talk a little bit more about that specifically. But I think that's really been my journey, that it's always been, I've been pulled to the region. But I always wanted to go out to learn about the world as much as I could and then bring it back. And fortunately, it's so exciting that regional Victoria and Ballarat have really gone ahead in leaps and bounds, but we're always looking. And that's really where I focus now is in leadership and senior opportunities and how we bring more thought leaders and more leadership to the region for a really bright future.
Renata: Yes, no, that's great. What a wonderful background, and I really want to sink my teeth into jobs in the regions, but before we move into that, I'd like you to kind of tell the listeners what you think your key strengths are that made you have the career and the opportunities that you had. I can sense a real curiosity and a curious mind there, and an ambition for growth, personal growth, more than anything, but what else would you add? I mean, am I right? Am I on track here?
Zoe: Absolutely. Yeah. And I think it's about not being afraid to learn and realize that you don't know everything. And it takes a lifetime to really know who we are and how we tick and what interests us. But I think I was always looking for more and looking for an opportunity to really get to the nuts and bolts of things. And that's why I became a strategist for a while, and to understand where we want to get to and how we are going to get there. So from every role I've been in, I guess I wanted more from it, and I want to give more to it. And I think it's always looking for more and asking for more, but realizing that there are limitations to things, but never giving up and trying, as I said, trying to see those limitations and challenges as we're very familiar within the last 12 months, to try and see them as opportunities and how they shape and change our lives.
Zoe: So I've always just looked at who else, what else, where else. You might not know where you're going at the time, but sometimes when you look back, you go, ‘that was a really good journey I've been on.’ And particularly in the last few years, I've reached out to the world, and I've taken chances, and they might've been calculated, but there were elements of it where it was a risk, a calculated risk. And I haven't been afraid to do that. So I think it's that mix of jumping off and looking out and assessing, but also, just when you've made that quick assessment, don't be afraid to take a chance. And for me, it’s worked out.
Renata: Yep. And I suppose that back in, did you say 2010, you moved back to Ballarat? So I suppose that back then, in 2010, moving back to Ballarat, that was 11 years ago, was probably considered a risk by your colleagues, I assume? They probably thought, what is she doing? What was the feedback that you received back then?
Zoe: Yeah, well, I did resign from my work. I resigned from working in a really big organization in a very exciting big role. And I think it just felt right for me, but also, and I will say to the listeners and talk more about, I think if you are going to make that move, and for me, it was a move home, and I moved back, but still it was a move. But it needs to be about more than just career, it needs to be a whole life, a theme that's calling you because there's so many elements that will be different. Financially to name one, is, you know, remuneration can be quite different. So if you’re just looking at it from a lack of other options, or I would say, just be wary because it needs to be that whole life yearning for something else and something different. So for me, I just said that I need to do this, and it might not work out, but I need to see. I've ticked a lot of boxes, and I just need to see how it's going to work out, and if I don't do this, I'll never know. So I think that's, yeah. And it gave me what I was looking for and more. So I had to make that move.
Renata: Yeah, that's such a good point. You know, we have addressed moving to the regions before on this podcast. We’ve interviewed Alistair Freeman, who moved from Melbourne to New South Wales. Regional New South Wales that is, and we interviewed him twice. We interviewed him when he had just left and a year later just to see how things are going. And we also interviewed Liz Richie, who is the CEO of the regional Australian Institute. And to those listening, I'll link the episodes in the show notes in case you want to go back and listen to those as well because I felt that now with the pandemic, people are really reflecting, taking stock, and moving geographically around the globe. People are coming back to their home countries. We see Australians coming back, and we see ex-pats going back home. We see people moving to the regions, not only in Australia but in other countries as well, going back to their hometowns.
Renata: And we also see people just moving cities, even from one city to city. There's a lot of, you know, in the US, the exit in California is well-documented people moving interstate. Here in Australia, there is definitely a push to the regions, right. And Ballarat is quite a big town compared to others. What are the jobs that a white-collar professional can expect and a town like Ballarat? If they really want to move to the regions, what would they expect to find?
Zoe: Yeah, well, there's work, both the public and private sector side. And I've been involved recently with some really exciting businesses who were looking for CFOs, company secretaries. I see a lot of directors of commercial operations. I see art gallery directors and facilities managers. In the past, I've recruited quite a few heads of procurement. Even though it is my home, and again, I've lived here for 10 years since coming back, it's still a treasure trove of organizations that you just don't know. Until you start looking, you don't realize that they're here and they're tucked away, you know, heads of engineering, manufacturing. There are really some very fascinating organizations, but some very big roles too. So all those pivotal types of roles, there's lots of board positions as well.
Zoe: And we'll speak about that in a moment. I think about the depth of life here and the depth of your involvement and opportunity to get involved, not only in your work but in the community as well from a professional corporate perspective. But not to digress, certainly about operational, financial, you know, there's lots of senior finance roles, HR. I work across the whole gamut in terms of the senior roles, and there are big HR business partners, OHNS, you know, really everything you could imagine, and I just work in that senior space. So I do see a lot of that, especially now. I think if the brakes run a little bit last year, I’m talking to a lot of colleagues as well, and there’s a lot of opportunity at the moment. Opportunity to make differences, but we need to find the right people.
Renata: Well, that's a very good lead to my next question. What would successful candidates for these regional roles have in common? Have you found some traits or backgrounds that you think really have worked well for those roles that are advertised in the regional areas?
Zoe: I think it always comes down to the individual. I think in terms of if you look at success, there's certainly a trend. And talking with my clients and colleagues and networks every day, particularly recently, we talk a lot about accountability, and I think if you are, again, as I said earlier, it does need to be really about your whole lifestyle and perhaps searching for more, not only professionally, but personally as well. And to have more involvement, because it is all-encompassing when you work in the region, and Ballarat is a regional city and is quite large. But I think you do need to be prepared that it is more personal. And then, when it comes to leadership, we often talk about those successful leaders who will be aware of extra accountability. And we often talk about running closer to the ground when you're in a smaller organization.
Zoe: And there are limitations, and there are challenges and a lack of things if you look at it that way, but also, as I said before, a great opportunity. You'll be utilizing your mind. You’ll be utilizing your creativity, and engaging with others, and getting others involved in the thought process. So I think success really is about not being afraid to use all of those different things, but being prepared to have to be a lot more accountable and a lot more creative in the way that you go about. And also a very long-winded answer, but also change. So being really prepared for and experienced with transformational change, cultural change, organizational change, because often when we are looking at senior people to come in, it's about driving some sort of change as it often is in any senior role, but particularly in this regional setting. And particularly at the moment, it is about driving lots of different types of change.
Renata: Yes. For these opportunities that you work with Zoe, have you found that when a candidate is coming from far, far away, are there any biases there? Would there be like a preference for people that are from Ballarat, or are they really keen to bring in those out-of-the-box individuals to bring about that change?
Zoe: Yeah, absolutely. I think it's a mix of both. And certainly, I've spent the last four or five years just bringing people from outside Ballarat, but also getting people who are commuting off the platform and back here, and living and working and breathing here as well. But yeah, it does depend on the organization, but there is that excitement to bring people from other places and to bring in that fresh thinking and fresh ideas and wanting to obviously employ local people as well. So it is that mix of, you know, for often with senior roles, it is exciting to bring people from other places, but balance those local people as well. It's really about, and I think, just knowing what the strategy is, knowing where we're going, knowing what the objective is, and then finding those people who can really tick the boxes and want to go on that journey. So it's case by case, but there is a lot of excitement about growth. You know, we need more people, more forward thinkers to be able to do what we want to do and have a successful future. So there's a lot of openness about bringing people into the region.
Renata: So let's say somebody with my background who is, you know, as you can tell from overseas, doesn’t have any link to Ballarat but would love to move into a region. In my application and conversation with somebody like you, would you recommend that I address that lifestyle change? Or is that too personal?
Zoe: Absolutely addressing all of it would be my advice. And that's where I really enjoy not only representing my clients but working with people who are looking for those opportunities as well and to embrace what it's all about. Because as I said, it really is all-encompassing. You need to be in tune with yourself personally, too. And that personal side of what living regionally is going to do for you and, if applicable your family, and your lifestyle. Because you know, you're out on the weekend, and you will see people you know, you will probably see people from work, you will get involved in things. And, you know, it requires a lot, a lot more than just a career. So that is also in the application process to be able to say, why are you looking? And obviously, the more ingrained and the more connected you are in a variety of levels, the more likely you are to stay. Because it's not just about the job, it's about other things that, that role and that move are going to do for you and your life. So the more you can demonstrate that in the application and recruitment process, the more it demonstrates to the potential employer that you’re committed.
Renata: Yeah. And one of the things that we're discussing now in my group coaching program is the first 90 days, the importance of that first impression, and the reputation that you're building with your team. I'm assuming that for an urbanite moving into Ballarat or any other regional town, that is a shock to the system. It will be a very different environment if they're not from a regional area and they're moving in. What would you recommend that they do if they are completely alien to a new town? How is the best way to engage in those first few months?
Zoe: I think to get out as much as you can. And obviously, that's been a challenge in the last 12 months, but to walk around the Lake, go out for coffee, walk downtown, go to the art gallery, go for a drive, just get out and get around. And you will notice how friendly people are. And, you know, even if you don't know anyone, I think what I'm saying is it is very familiar in a regional setting. People are more familiar in the supermarket in that -not generally speaking. But if you get out and just start feeling it and try it on and leave it and breathe it, you can go to Melbourne on the train. I would say, get out and about, and it might not be where there are people, but you wandering around and really living and breathing it. And then slowly, you know, we have a really exciting food culture and cafe culture, and music and festivities. And I would say, get involved in those as much as you can. And little things, you get chatting to people, and then before you know it, you’re connected to, there's a lot of opportunities, different lifestyle things to get involved with, running groups and all sorts of things. So I think it's just like anything it's as much as you get out there and challenge yourself, you'll find that you get connected.
Renata: And do you find that the job applications for regional areas are different from job applications in Melbourne or city or any big town? What do you require from the candidate? Is it pretty much the same?
Zoe: It’s a good question. I think I have quite a bit of interest in the cover letter, particularly if it is somebody who's looking to move and I see that they are in Melbourne at the moment or somewhere else. So I'd like to understand, have a quick understanding of whether they are open to moving or whether it was just a quick application and an option. I'd like to start to understand what the motivation is around applying for that role. And then I will call and obviously have the conversation, but I think there is quite a bit of emphasis on the cover letter. I will always engage someone to, before sending a position description or anything like that, because I do want to make sure it is the best match and to make sure that, often, you know, there are complexities, there are idiosyncrasies and things around every role, and context. To be able to give context to someone before, that's very much to me, part of the application process is just to talk about the context of the role and make sure that that's in alignment before we go any further. So, yes, I think, in answer to your question, there is sometimes a bit more depth to it, especially if it involves a move.
Renata: Okay. And how important is LinkedIn for the roles that you're recruiting for?
Zoe: I think it's a part of it these days. And I think because we have so much information at our fingertips in our everyday life, that's a natural thing that I will always go to LinkedIn and see if I can see anything more about that person, in speaking with them and understanding, and then connecting. So I think we naturally gravitate to that as well, to understand more about each other. So I think, like anything, LinkedIn is only as good as the information we put into it. And the time we spend on it in building our profile. I can't emphasize enough really building that profile because any potential employer, if you do apply or you are going through a process with me for an organization, for example, or if you applied directly, they would want to probably have a look at you and see what you're up to. So the more time you put into that profile, it can give you that opportunity.
Renata: Zoe, do you also use LinkedIn or the means to scout people out and contact them and introduce the idea of moving to Ballarat? Would you be focusing on people that are originally from Ballarat?
Zoe: It's about skills. Sorry to cut you off. It's about, yeah, it is about the skills. And often, it is looking at all sorts of different locations, but about the skill sets definitely. And in my role, it is very much about speaking with people. And the thing is that it might not be right at the time, but it might just spark a little bit of a thought that in 12 months’ time, and it has happened many times before in 12 months, that turns into something else. So even if you're not ready to make that move straight away, or there's a lot to do before you can actually get to that point. Don't be afraid to start as well. And something I really did want to add as well is I think if it is burning inside you to make that move and you are wanting to change your lifestyle and make a move to the regions, if it is plausible, you can commute from Ballarat. It's not always ideal. And it can be a little bit challenging. I've done it myself, but it's never too early, I think, to make that move. And then when you are here, you're sending out those vibes, and you're already getting that feel for the place. So if it does mean you still have to commute for six or 12 months, but it really is the right move for you. Then I would say, don't be afraid to do it if it ticks all the boxes.
Renata: That's a good question. I hadn't thought of that, but that's a good feedback, of course. And what about the salary range? I'm assuming there's probably a drop between the salary range for a similar role in Melbourne or Sydney compared to Ballarat. But that would probably be also in comparison, and you would have a lower rent or mortgage and other living costs because that would decrease as well. Do people end up with the same amount of money in the bank in the end, do you reckon?
Zoe: Yes. And this is really where it comes back to it being that whole life decision. Because if you just look, you know, for example, sometimes I've spoken to people who intend to stay living in, perhaps close to Ballarat, but they still intend to really have their life in Melbourne or somewhere more metropolitan, but to work in Ballarat. And I just encourage them to think about that because yes, it can be, you know, 20% or a $20,000 difference, but then, and that's why I do encourage their whole life thinking because the cost of living is very different. The time it takes to get to places is so different. The time you spend in the car, you know, it's just the quality of life is just immeasurable. But if you're looking like for life, yes, it will be your salary will generally speaking be lower. But the other benefits really outweigh that. And so, as I said, it needs to be a bigger conversation than just that. But in answer to your question, yes, generally about 20%, I would say, up to $20,000 difference. Generally.
Renata: One of the things that I discussed with Liz from the Australian regional Institute, and that's something that she has been reporting all through last year, is that there was a lower fall of jobs advertised in 2020 in the regions compared to the big cities. So when we had absolutely no jobs advertised, let's say in Melbourne and Sydney, the regions were doing fine. Is that right?
Zoe: Yeah. There still were opportunities all through that time. And perhaps because of that need to still progress and the other challenges that we have, we still need the people to get. And we did certainly have less of an impact. We were still in lockdown, et cetera, but we did have that slightly less of an impact. And especially within those, you know, we have a lot of areas such as health, and manufacturing, and agriculture, a bigger concentration of those that were essential services. I was working in agriculture at the time. We were obviously affected, but we had to keep going. We had to keep hiring. We had to keep looking and being creative, but the roles, if you look from an advertising platform perspective, the roles were still there. The need was still there.
Renata: And, with Alister Freeman in a previous podcast, when he had already been in this new town for 12 months, he then realized how many people were already working remotely, even before covid. Do you find that that's happening? I mean, you mentioned people just should move here and then see how they go, but have you found that a lot of people, professionals in Ballarat, are also working remotely and have been doing so even before covid?
Zoe: Yes. Interesting that you mentioned that, and I wanted to talk about that too. One of the initiatives that I did around 2015 was I set up a serviced offices and almost like an incubator and hot-desking and a collaborative workspace for people who, you know, lots of different things. But especially that example, you just mentioned organizations that wanted to give their employees that opportunity, who did live regionally, or had moved regionally to also be at work a couple of days a week, but also be at home in adverted comments. So my space provided that opportunity to get out of the house. And that was also for people running small businesses to get out of the house and come to that space a couple of times a week, but also be at home. So there were many people doing that.
Zoe: There were also organizations wanting satellite offices and maybe dip a toe in the water to understand what it was like operating a business in the region. And so they had people who were working remotely. And so we do see more of a spread of that. And in talking to people all around the place, there were many people who were already working from home and having that balance of being remote, but also being onsite, maybe a few days a week. But organizations like that serviced offices gave them the opportunity to mix it up as well.
Renata: Excellent. I recently noticed that I think it was NAB, and they had hundreds of jobs advertised, and they were giving preference for people in the regions because everybody now in even big banks are working from home in Australia, especially Melbourne because we had such an extended lockdown periods. And I thought that was groundbreaking for NAB to say, we are recruiting. I dunno. I think it was like 200 people, and we want all of them to work from home, and we will give preference for people in the regions. And it's like, wow, this is fantastic.
Zoe: It gives me goosebumps. Phenomenal. And yeah, just talking to clients every day about that, it's really going to be quite different in terms of that conversation. We talk about the application process regionally. I think now everywhere that application process and the conversation around when you are resourcing or recruiting a role will be quite different about the flexibilities and the opportunities that come with that. So, yeah, it's a very exciting time.
Renata: Zoe, sometimes things don't work. People, move to the regions and then go, uh-oh, what have I done? What's the lesson there? So, I mean, you've, I think you've already answered that, but just reinforcing to those that are sort of in two minds. Who is not going to work well in the regions?
Zoe: I think that it is when if it's just fulfilling that single purpose of being about career, or as I said, it is perhaps because of a lack of other options, or not able to find something where you currently are in a metropolitan space. So, if it is just one dimensional, there is more of a risk because like there is a risk with anything. But if it does satisfy a number of different elements, then there's a lot more opportunity because you will look at it differently, and you'll look at it's like anything, having a bigger goal or a bigger reason for doing something or a bigger strategy, it will form part of that strategy, but it won't be the be-all and end-all, so you'll give it more opportunity. You'll look at it differently. You'll give it more time potentially.
Renata: So, as a gatekeeper, you can tell, right?
Zoe: Absolutely. Yes. And I always encourage people if I do sense that there is a bit of hesitation or the motivations might not quite be aligned, then I encourage them to continue to think about it. And there's nothing wrong with dipping your toe, having a conversation, and saying, look, I'm thinking maybe six to 12 months, or there's nothing wrong with starting to think about it now, but there's no obligation. The earlier you can start thinking about it, the more you can then find those commonalities or find other reasons for doing it as well. And I would say, if you are at all thinking about it, come and visit and have a drive around and look at things and start to look at the options and the housing and those sorts of lifestyle things as well to make it more three three-dimensional for you.
Renata: Well, Zoe, I think I'm going to come and visit you someday. I keep telling people on my podcast and everything that I do that I would love to move to the regions. Andrea and I are both thinking about it really seriously. And, yeah. So I think I'll come and see you. I don't need a job. I’m fine. I just want to say hi and have a coffee with you, and see your incubator space. And maybe I can come and work there as well. Before we go, do you have any final thoughts and ideas, maybe something we didn't touch that you want to share?
Zoe: I think we've touched on everything. But again, I say these about looking at all of the different perspectives of what a regional lifestyle and working regionally can give you. But also to think about coming and having a look and maybe looking at that potential, if it really is something that you're very interested in. You don't have to work here straight away if it hasn't quite happened yet, but the more you will put that energy out there, you'll be able to meet with people like myself. You'll be able to get the ball rolling while you are still, you know, that's the only thing holding you up. If you really have made that decision and you are just trying to work things out, then come and get it in motion. That's what I've learned in the last five years is just start to put things in motion however that looks for you. If it is something that is in your mind, just start to put it into place. Yeah. I think that would be my advice. Yeah.
Renata: You certainly lead by example, haven't you? You put a lot of things in motion in your career, so well done. Well, thank you so much for this opportunity to talk to us and explain how to move to the regions for a group of listeners that I'm sure is considering this as part of their career plans for, like you said, now or in the future.
Zoe: Yeah. Excellent.
Renata: Yeah. It would be nice to keep in touch with you. Maybe check in again in a few months or a year or so to see how things are going because I'm sure that COVID will certainly change the way that we think about regions. And I'd love to check in with you in the future to see how things are changing.
Zoe: Absolutely. It's going to be very interesting in a year or two. And I can already see, you know, and everything that we know is really flipped around. There's so many different ways to look at work now, and it's just so exciting. So yeah, and again there's always a way if it's meant to be, then there's a way that you can make it happen. And when we can really see that happening at the moment in 2021. So thank you very much.
Renata: Thank you.
Renata: I hope you enjoyed this conversation with Zoe and that it inspires you to make interesting plans for your career. Please remember to like this episode if your podcast platform permits, leave us a review - I’d really appreciate your support, reviews are super important for my podcast, and it helps us reach out to more listeners. Also, subscribe to The Job Hunting Podcast if you haven’t done so yet, and finally, go to the episode show notes or to my website https://www.renatabernarde.com to find out more about everything we spoke about today, as well as my free career resources for you, and learn more about my services. If you want help with your career, on my website, you will find my services, and you can also book a 30-min call with me to learn about my private coaching programs. Bye for now!
About the Host
Hello, I’m Renata Bernarde, the Host of The Job Hunting Podcast. I’m also an executive coach, job hunting expert, and career strategist. I teach professionals (corporate, non-profit, and public) the steps and frameworks to help them find great jobs, change, and advance their careers with confidence and less stress.
If you are an ambitious professional who is keen to develop a robust career plan, if you are looking to find your next job or promotion, or if you want to keep a finger on the pulse of the job market so that when you are ready, and an opportunity arises, you can hit the ground running, then this podcast is for you.
In addition to The Job Hunting Podcast, on my website, I have developed a range of courses and services for professionals in career or job transition. And, of course, I also coach private clients.
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