Job vacancies: record highs or figures falling?

What does the number of job vacancies tell us about the state of the employment market? Well, the answer could depend on your chosen source…

Two different news items published only a day apart suggest that:

a) Advertised job vacancies are falling and reflect a ‘cooling off’ period 

Source: Recruiting Times & Adzuna

Adzuna has been recording its own data since 2012. However, it will not have access to the same quantity of data as our next source.

That said, it’s still of national interest as it considers the UK as a whole. Perhaps most interestingly, these findings also report on competition levels; stating that application numbers have fallen to an all-time low since Adzuna’s records began 6 years ago.

b)  Job vacancies have reached a record high since 2001

Source: HR Review & the Office for National Statistics (ONS)

Conversely, the ONS reports that job vacancy numbers have reached the highest level recorded in 17 years. Although these figures are taken from the August to October 2018 period; Adzuna’s refer to the ‘latest data’ which may well be exploring the past month.

This report also reflects a talent shortage, stating that ’employers across many sectors are continuing to experience fundamental challenges in finding the staff and skills that they need.’

What the REC has to say on this topic…

As you may well know, the Recruitment & Employment Confederation also conducts regular research.

Their latest press release explored October’s figures and found:

  • Staff appointment numbers rose at their fastest rate last month.
  • Job vacancies ‘expanded at the softest pace’ for almost two years in October, yet staff demand was ‘historically sharp’.
  • Overall candidate availability fell at its steepest rate in nine months.

Considering all these findings, it appears that there is greater consensus across the sources than it might have appeared at first glance.

Certainly, each agrees that businesses are facing skills shortages, with HR Review reporting that “employers can expect to face continued recruitment and retention pressures and need to prioritise workforce planning.”

Looking to overcome the skills shortage?

Top job search fears

What currently tops the list of job search fears? Plus what can you do to beat yours?

We understand how daunting the job hunting process can be. It’s often especially nervewracking for those who are just embarking on their first career roles, as well as professionals who’ve been in the same positions for some time, and/or people facing unexpected redundancies.

But what is it about the process that fills people with apprehension? While the answer is likely highly individual, a survey of more than 1,000 UK professionals has revealed some core themes…

The top five job search fears are:

  1. Rejection (58%)
  2. Interviews (42%)
  3. Tasks and tests within interviews (40%)
  4. Conversing with both recruitment consultants and prospective employers by phone (35%)
  5. Being required to submit a video as part of an application (34%)

Over 1/2 of the respondents felt some sense of fear, with almost a 1/3 completely opting out of applications that would require them to undertake their most-worrisome aspects!

You can find fears ranked 6-11 in the original article by OnRec.

What can you do to beat your job search fears?

We think it all starts with normalising each aspect of the job hunt. Let’s take the top five concerns in turn…

1) Rejection:

The word ‘rejection’ itself probably doesn’t help the way you feel about it. The definitions of rejection include the terms ‘dismissal, refusal and spurning.’ However, it’s usually far more the case that you’ve simply not been selected as the closest match for the role on this particular occasion.

There are a lucky few people who’ve not experienced this at least once in their career. Plus, there are many more who’ve encountered it multiple times.

When it’s repeatedly happening, it may be that there’s particularly high competition or that there are other vacancies that you’re better suited for. Make sure you’re doing your research and targeting the best roles for you.

Wherever possible, find a trusted recruitment agency within your field. The best recruitment consultants will only submit your CV for vacancies that you are a close match for. While this doesn’t guarantee you’ll be accepted for every role, it could increase your chances.

2) Interviews:

We aren’t surprised to see this is ranked high among the common job search fears. Interview nerves often go hand-in-hand with the fear of rejection or making a fool of one’s self.

Yet often the idea of an interview is so much worse than the reality. A good dose of interview preparation can go an awful long way to settling some of these nerves. We frequently share interview tips on our Recruitment News blog and have some great interview advice on our downloads page.

Much of the advice included under point 4 below also applies here.

3) Interview tasks and tests:

Where possible, prepare and practise! If there are unexpected tests, just give them a shot. Tasks aren’t always used to test performance/results so much as attitude.

There are even occasions when you may not achieve your highest score, yet you’re called back in future due to your willingness to learn/give things a try.

Even if it’s an industry where you have to obtain a ‘perfect score’ in order to proceed through the interview stages, this real-life practise can prove invaluable for next time.

4) Discussing your job search by phone:

Is it the act of speaking by phone in the age of WhatsApp, Snapchat and Instagram, or is this an extension of the interview fear? Either way, remember that the person you’re chatting to is just that…another person!

However nervous you’re feeling, you have the chance to actively listen to what the recruitment consultant or prospective employer is saying/asking of you and express your enthusiasm accordingly.

Try to smile to trick your brain into thinking it’s happy for that (usually fairly brief!) time. Try telling yourself that what you’re feeling is excitement/intrigue and remind yourself that a flutter of nerves often enhances performance. Speak as clearly as you can and see how things go.

5) Videos within applications:

As you’ll likely appreciate, out of all the job search fears, this is a fairly modern one. While still not the norm for job applications in Bath, there are certain industries where these may be used.

We’d be inclined to seek the sage advice of The Muse’s accessible 7-step guide.

Can you tell there’s a bit of a theme here?! Lots of following the best advice and practising what you can. We’re also viewing each of these fears as a fairly normal part of a job search. Something that doesn’t have to be as scary as it first appears.

Naturally, this approach isn’t to belittle the experience of anyone who has been out of work for an extended period of time. However long you’ve been looking for work, we’d once again encourage you to seek out a great recruitment agency that specialises in your target industry/ies. Knowing you’re able to discuss your fears with your consultant can help reduce some of your worries.

Did you know we primarily specialise in commercial office openings throughout Bath and the surrounding area? You can find and apply for our latest job vacancies here, or upload your CV as a general applicant here. Best of luck with beating those fears and finding your next role!