Demand for candidates with digital experience has boomed in the last six months, thanks to the growing push towards digitisation, say specialist recruiters. Greythorn state director Suzanne Gerrard told Shortlist demand for digital skills had traditionally come from specialist digital or media agencies, but businesses were beginning to establish their own in-house digital teams. Consumers increasingly expected to be able to access goods and services online, and from their mobile devices, forcing employers to adapt to keep up, she said. "Candidates that have been working in the European market are particularly attractive, because a lot of digital programs have been in place for a long time over there... people who've got overseas skills are definitely attractive to Australian employers," said Gerrard. Aquent Australia managing director Simon Lusty said in December last year, 25% of Aquent's business was in the digital space, but this had since grown to around 60%. On the candidate side, the digital market was tight and mostly passive, and Lusty said search engine optimisation and pay-per-click, in particular, were among the hardest skill sets to find. "It's a very candidate-led market, and with that comes all the challenging aspects of trying to manage candidates through the recruitment process, when good strong candidates have upwards of eight... opportunities they're pursuing - and often getting," he said. "[There is] emerging demand for skill sets that ultimately two to three years ago didn't even exist, and that's what's driving the [digital] skills shortage." Lusty warned that recruitment companies would struggle to source candidates in the digital space if their "core strategy" was advertising to the active market. "The challenge for recruitment businesses... is to engage with these people, so that when the opportunity does come to move roles, their agency is at the forefront of the candidate's mind." Digital technology was still in the early adoption stage in Australia, and Ambition Technology applications team manager Rob Glenn said employers were not willing to risk a permanent headcount investment, so much of the demand was for contractors. He agreed with Lusty that the local candidate market was still evolving, because a lot of the new technology was created overseas and it took time for the relevant skills to "filter in". Glenn said he was seeing the most demand for candidates with experience developing iOS and Android mobile applications or responsive websites - pages designed to change layout depending on the device used. Harvey Nash managing director Bridget Gray said candidates with digital experience were also in "extremely high" demand at a senior level. Harvey Nash was currently recruiting a CEO for digital industry body AIMIA, she said, and there was strong demand for technical staff from agencies, publishing companies and corporate digital teams.