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?

Supporting workers in their over-50s

Employees in their over-50s appear in several news items this week. The question is, are they getting enough support?

You may have heard about Gail Smith, the 52-year-old Newcastle-based businesswoman who took voluntary redundancy last year. At the time, she thought it would be simple to handpick her next role. After all, she has decades of experience at a senior management level. However (and as what the Recruiting Times calls her ‘LinkedIn rant’ would attest!), this has been far from the case. One year on and Gail is actively seeking a role.

Are over-50s workers being discriminated against?

Of course, we cannot comment on the specifics of this particular instance. Yet the article describes a time in which Smith is told she was considered ‘too old’ for an interviewing role. If this is the case, it would be more than frowned upon under the rules of the Equality Act 2010.

What about being told ‘you’re overqualified?’

This is another reason Gail Smith has been given for her interview rejections. This is a separate issue in many respects. A younger worker can also be considered ‘overqualified’ if they have work experiences and qualifications greater than those that the role demands.

It is a tricky situation to be in. Let’s also consider the employer’s needs a mo. Businesses are understandably reluctant to hire someone who they think may be utterly bored or using a vacancy as a stopgap for something better. Although this may not be the case from the employee’s perspective. See below!

So, what can workers do to overcome this issue?

It’s important to communicate why you’re looking for vacancies that appear below your skill-set. Your recruitment consultant should be able to assist you with this. Perhaps there’s a good reason you want to take a step back from previous responsibilities. Explain this as clearly as you can.

Employers may also want to take a second look at the CVs in their inboxes. In times of a skills shortage, nobody wants to be overlooking someone great based on assumptions alone. The best recruitment consultants are experts at seeing which people make the best ‘fit’, should you benefit from some support.

Use your CV wisely.

Returning to the risk of age discrimination, we’d recommend that job applicants take a closer look at their CV. Remove your date of birth, education dates and any long-ago CV details that don’t add anything to your search. E.g. that part-time job you had 30 years or so ago. Keep things fresh and relevant. This is something many agencies will automatically do prior to submitting your CV to a client to ensure you’re judged on merit.

Also, make sure you’re up-to-date with the latest CV methods. It shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all for every job application. Rather, you should be tailoring your CV to demonstrate exactly how you suit each job you’re applying for. You’ll find some great advice regarding this here.

We naturally wish Gail, and anyone else in her position, the very best with their job search. Hoping the right opportunity presents itself very soon.

A final note for businesses on the ability to support the over-50s worker…

Personnel Today has reported that over half of this age group feels unsupported at work. Yet they also feel more confident in their abilities and skill-sets than some of their younger colleagues.

May we also remind you that more than 2/5 of workers intend to work beyond 65 for reasons other than financial need.

By learning to better support the over-50s employee, you’re at a competitive advantage. An advantage that is so valuable during this ongoing skills shortage.

Looking for additional recruitment support and advice? Call the office on 01225 313130.

Employer confidence increases!

Employer confidence is finally looking up. So, how will this affect your job search or recruitment plans?

Good news for employer confidence

Some of you (with incredible memories!) may recall us discussing reduced employer confidence among the recruitment predictions for 2018.

The Recruiting Times first raised this prediction – and it’s the Recruiting Times who also shared today’s stats…

  • Almost a third (30%) of employers believe the UK economy is improving. This marks the first positive reading since August 2017.
  • 32% of businesses additionally predict confidence rates will further rise.

What does this change?

  • An increasing number of businesses say they are looking to make recruitment and investment plans.
  • Yet a certain level of uncertainty around permanent recruitment remains. This underpins the 41% of companies using temporary staff at this time. A figure that has also increased (by 9%) over the past year.
  • As recently discussed, national starting pay rates have also risen as employers face greater recruitment competition.

And how do employer confidence levels affect you?

  • As a job-seeker: greater employer confidence tends to result in a greater volume of vacancies. Of course, these are national stats covering all sectors, so you will want to keep a close eye on what’s happening within your own industry. Our Jobs page is regularly updated with the latest roles. Word of increased vacancies can lure out hibernating job-seekers, meaning you won’t want to rest on your laurels and assume the job is yours! Make sure your strategy is up to scratch (and you’re not taking a scattergun approach to your search!).
  • As an employer: again, these are national stats. However, you might want to take a quick (and regular!) look at what your competitors are up to. After all, you don’t want them to snap up the best staff in your field before you get started. As Tom Hadley, the REC’s Director of Policy, explains, concerns regarding the skills gap and candidate shortages remain. This means staff attraction has to be at the fore of your recruiting focus. For some expert support, please call a Consultant on 01225 313130.

Recruitment Predictions for 2018…

Sharing 2018 recruitment predictions from leading industry commentators… 

Each year brings a fresh wave of business estimations and predictions. None more so than as we enter our penultimate year as a European member state. So, how could employment and recruitment change this year?

1) Through legal & policy updates

SOURCE: Recruiting Times

Recruiting Times discusses a host of potential legislative changes and discussions, including:

  • The implementation of the Taylor review. This is an independent review of modern working practices, which explores today’s employer responsibilities and workers’ rights.
  • Increased (and more public) penalties in cases of ‘unfair employment’.
  • Greater support/recognition of Transgender equality rights.
  • The possibility that caste may also be covered under racial discrimination policy in certain circumstances.
  • Further discussion of disability rights. Partially in light of two major ongoing cases.
  • More governmental guidance on workplace dress code policies.

2) Continued high job-seeking levels

SOURCE: HR Magazine

  • Just under half of all UK employees are set to look for a new job this year, says HR Magazine. This is a reduction on 2017’s figures (59%). However, such a stat represents continued low job satisfaction levels.
  • Management issues are the biggest driver for a job change (49%). Alongside this, other workers are motivated by earning potential (43%) and a desire for greater skills recognition (29%).

3) Fluidity & flexibility

SOURCE: HR Grapevine

The magazine highlights 8 distinct trends, which include:

  • Increased ‘fluidity’, suggesting that changing jobs more frequently will become socially ‘acceptable’.
  • Greater value placed on employee perks. This is something we only recently discussed!
  • Further focus on closing the gender pay gap.
  • An increase in ‘returnships’.
  • More flexible working policies.
  • A better work-life balance.
  • More attention paid to workplace leadership in relation to staff morale.
  • Diversity to be celebrated and ‘taken more seriously’ by employers.

4) Reduced employer confidence

SOURCE: Recruiting Times

  • We hear that 51% of businesses expect 2018 to be ‘more challenging than 2017’.
  • The remaining companies surveyed suggested this year will be no better. Meaning that not one of the employers surveyed expected 2018 to be easier!
  • Low employer confidence primarily centres around concerns regarding the economy and post-Brexit trade potential.
  • However, despite poor confidence levels, 51% of businesses intend to expand their workforces this year. Promising news for job-seekers!

5) Through a clearer understanding


Recruitment’s leading governing body has drawn its own predictions –or ‘things to look out for’– this year:

  • The organisation agrees that hiring and employment rates will continue, although perhaps at a slower growth rate versus recent (record-beating!) years.
  • They remain ‘hopeful’ that we will garner a clearer understanding of the post-Brexit trade and employment potential.
  • Further discussions on automation and its effect on the jobs market. This will include an upcoming TedX talk by Kevin Green, the REC’s Chief Executive.
  • Ongoing campaigns to keep the UK labour market as ‘dynamic, flexible and agile’ as can be.

As you can see, 2018 looks set to be another fascinating year in recruitment. We’ll be sure to keep all of our job-seekers and employers posted on the developments as they unfold – so do keep a close eye on our News!

We’re also interested to hear from you. Which changes or issues concern you most or would you like to hear more about? Share your thoughts via Twitter, LinkedIn and email.