Vacancy Volumes Indicate Steady Recovery

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Throw open the shutters, open the windows, and take the sandbags from the doors. The storm of recession has past, and we can all get back to normal. Perhaps not quite.According to the Office of National Statistics, the UK economy experienced growth of 0.1% in the last quarter, and unemployment unexpectedly fell by 7,000 in December. Now that the snow has cleared away, there’s nothing to stop us. These figures may be great for confidence, but there is much to overcome still in the recruitment market. Unemployment may have dropped slightly, but so too has the employment rate (down to 72.4% from a peak of 75% in early 2008). A study, produced in January by the CIPD, reveals that 1.31 million people were made redundant during the recession, and that two-thirds of those, who subsequently found work were paid an average of 28% less in their new job.

There are no prizes for guessing how this will affect the confidence of jobseekers, employers and the professional recruitment sector.This has been reflected in the volume of vacancies advertised online.The AlljobsUK.com Online Recruitment Index has monitored the number of job adverts on the UK’s major job boards for the last 10 years.If we take January 2008 to be the beginning of the employment crisis, then our Index was standing at 1,703.31. 2 years later, it’s 59% lower, at 821.51. In that time, the much predicted demise of print advertising as a primary advertising channel came to pass as. Whilst trade magazines and some newspapers still carry job adverts, it’s only with an accompanying job board.

In bald terms, the Alljobs Online Recruitment Index shows that the number of job adverts across the ten monitored sites has plummeted from 805,695 to a low of 258,992.Currently recovering slightly to 368,722, the details of each site are very illuminating. Firstly, we should know that many sites count their volume of vacancies differently, as they hold a job advert online for anything from a week to over a month. We collect weekly figures on how many vacancy adverts there are on each site at that time. The two charts, shown here, separate out Reed.co.uk and Totaljobs.com, as their volumes far exceed those of the other websites. Reed.co.uk is often taken to be an accurate indicator of job availability, as it is largely unimpeded by cost considerations. Free advertising means that, within limits, all agencies can advertise every single vacancy they have. Despite their huge volumes, Reed is currently displaying only 31% of its maximum number of job adverts over the last 2 years. Similarly, and at the other end of the scale, JustEngineers.net have lost over 90% of their volume during the same period. Engineering and manufacturing sectors have clearly taken a big hit. Furthermore, whilst Monster have mostly outperformed their immediate rivals, Jobsite, Totaljobs and CVLibrary, they are now dipping and have lost 65% of their peak volume. Not only are there fewer vacancies, but a lesser proportion are being advertised in bulk on the biggest job boards.

As recruiters have been forced to re-evaluate all expenditure, online advertising with the major job boards has suffered enormously. The old model of “advertise and wait” simply doesn’t work on its own anymore, and recruiters are having to be far more active and creative, in order to identify and attract candidates. Social media websites, in the form of Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter are being exploited, and all networks are being leveraged by recruiters determined to satisfy clients.

We have now seen an encouraging bounce-back from the extended winter dip. The Alljobs Index is up 244.48 since New Year, and many other market indicators are positive. If the statistics are anything to go by, where we have now had steady figures for the past 12 months, the threat of a “double-dip” appears to be increasingly unlikely.