What do the recruitment swings mean for jobseekers?

The recruitment sector has undergone many swings over the last few years. As things change so fast we need to be careful that surveys are up to date with what is happening on the ground.

A row of people on chairs waiting for an interview


Redundancy rates have been rising over the last months after a period of labour shortages, with the Office for National Statistics reporting the rate of redundancies is now similar to pre-pandemic levels. A recent poll by law firm Womble Bond Dickinson of 500 employers employing over 50 people found over two fifths (42%) of employers said they were planning to make redundancies this year.  An April poll by HR consultancy Ayming UK put a 26% figure on it. It clearly depends a lot on which employers you speak to and when, but clearly redundancies are rising, with reports in the last weeks from firms ranging from Virgin, 02 and Ford to BT announcing significant redundancies for a range of reasons, including the impact of Artificial Intelligence.

A recent survey by KPMG and the Recruitment and Employment Confederation showed the highest number of jobseekers in two and a half years in May due to increased levels of redundancy and slow hiring. At the same time the number of jobs for candidates to fill fell for the third month in a row.

Is the market changing and what are the implications for workers? Well, it depends on a number of different factors, including whether jobs are permanent or temporary. Temporary placements are up, particularly in the London area as employers hedge their bets.

The last few years have seen wild swings in the recruitment sector, from a total slowdown in most areas in 2020 to labour shortages across the board as we emerged from lockdown. Are they changing again and do we have to be prepared for continuous change? It’s a tricky terrain to negotiate. One minute candidates are in the driving seat and able to dictate things like flexible working; the next employers regain a bit of ground and start urging people back into the office more days a week. Many of the surveys currently being reported on are from a few months ago. Are they keeping up with the pace of change?

The mortgage crisis, combined with ongoing inflationary rises is forcing people to job hop to get more money or to take on more work/start a business on the side, but in a very volatile marketplace. It’s difficult to know what to do. No wonder people are jittery and not perhaps as engaged at work as they were in the past. There’s too much going on and too much to think about.

It’s hard to get a handle on what is happening. Hence the slowing down of hiring until we reach calmer waters, although it looks likely that the stormy weather is going to last for some time. For employers, that means planning ahead for a range of scenarios and the need for maximum flexibility. For employees and jobseekers, the implications depend very much on all the variables, from sector to geography. But it is worth questioning some of the survey findings we see reported and bearing in mind that everything could change, and fast.

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