We’re now well past the halfway point of 2021, and it’s safe to say it has been a rollercoaster of a year. We’d like to take this opportunity, for the sake of both jobseekers and hiring managers, to go over what has been happening in the recruitment market over the past six months, where we stand as recruiters right now, and what the next six months might hold for the industry.

What have the past six months been like in recruitment?

To get to the point, in the past six months we’ve seen a pretty large uptick in the number of vacancies we’ve registered over the pandemic, while also seeing a similarly sized decrease in the number of candidates actively looking for a new job. In fact, in the eyes of our Managing Director, Rupert Wallis, the market has never been so candidate short in his 22-year career. This is due to a combination of factors – people naturally leaving the industry, yet not being replaced by fresh blood due to Covid; people deciding to leave the industry due to the uncertainty caused by Covid; Brexit resulting in international talent deciding either to not move to the UK or to leave the country; finally, one of the biggest casualties of the pandemic recruitment-wise is the lack of trainees and graduates being hired resulting in this lack of available candidates with a year or two of experience.

The good news is that we registered 480 new vacancies in that six-month time period. In the same period of 2020, we only registered 203, whereas in 2019 we registered 504. Therefore, the recovery is going well, and recruitment activity is getting pretty close to where it was pre-pandemic.

A recent report (conducted by KPMG and the REC) found that May this year had the largest increase in permanent placements made in 23 and a half years of data collection. Conversely, the decline in staff availability was the steepest seen in four years. However, this has led to good news for candidates, with starting salaries being at the highest point since September 2018. Therefore, this might be a good time to start looking for a new job, to make use of these factors to secure a good deal.

Why Is This Important?

We’ve had some of our clients try and stay just with their internal hiring teams over the pandemic, and some have seen success from that, however many of the candidates who had been looking for jobs over the pandemic now have them. When traditional forms of candidate attraction that many internal hiring teams are used to just aren’t working as well, working with agencies like us can help fill those gaps and help you make the most of a world in recovery. This is particularly important since many industries are booming right now, with many opportunities that just weren’t available this time last year.

There seems to be a misconception that there are plenty of candidates on the market now when that simply isn’t the case. As we said earlier, many of those placed on furlough or let go in the early stages of the pandemic or in the months leading to Freedom Day have now found themselves new positions.

The final factor to consider over the past six months in the recruitment industry is that there is a lack of candidates with one to five years of experience. In our opinion, this is a result of two things. Firstly, over the course of the past 18 or so months we have seen a distinct lack of hiring of graduates and trainees, meaning that if you’re looking to hire someone with maybe a year of experience… well, there aren’t many of those about! In addition to this, many candidates may well have other priorities right now – namely, enjoying the lack of restrictions following Freedom Day. Therefore, many candidates who may be interested in a new position will have stopped thinking about that decision and deferred any changes until the autumn.

Where Are We Now?

So, we’ve gone through the past six months of 2021. Where does that leave us?

Well, to start with, we’ve seen a slight decrease in the number of jobs being registered with us. That’s not to say there are plenty of vacancies, though – there definitely is, but the growth in the number of new vacancies in recent weeks has been noticeably less aggressive. This is likely due to the fact that hiring picked up in March, and all of those vacancies have been filled by this point; many of our clients are now holding off on further hiring until the autumn and so we anticipate the tail end of summer to be quieter on the hiring front.

It is also important to note that, with the end of the furlough scheme, it is estimated that one in five firms will have to make redundancies. Therefore, with a lack of candidates in the market currently, the situation is likely to improve for hiring managers in the short term.

However, we do have some recommendations for hiring managers to implement in the meantime. As the recovery continues, the economy improves, and more and more vacancies go live, it’s important to remember that, in a candidate short market, the power lies with the candidates, and they are like to be increasingly discerning over the job they accept. Therefore, we suggest taking the next few months to have a deep dive into your recruitment processes and what you can offer potential candidates, in order to remain competitive in the market.

What the next six months look like

Continuing the economic recovery, we see a gentle but not too aggressive upwards trend in both the number of vacancies registered and the availability of actively looking candidates. However, as previously mentioned these candidates will be more specific in what they’re looking for. A couple of things to consider moving forward include your ‘Return to Work’ policy and your reputation.

Many of the candidates we’re currently working with have expressed great interest in returning to work in the office as much as possible – and we suggest making this an option, with all necessary precautions in place to make it safe to do so. We ourselves offer our staff the choice, but most chose to be in the office 4 or 5 days a week to enjoy both the social aspect of work and the opportunity to learn from those around you.

The other thing we just mentioned, your reputation, we feel has always been important, but perhaps has never been more so considering the lack of candidates. A good starting point for this is Glassdoor; having a solid rating there would indicate you are on your way to becoming a respected employer of choice in your industry and is another avenue for gaining that all-important competitive edge over competitors.

Can We Help?

That about summarises the past, present and future of the recruitment industry in the pandemic – lots to consider whether you’re a jobseeker or a hiring manager. Either way, we are more than happy to offer further advice, we’re only an email away! To get in touch with us, click HERE and fill in the form, and a member of our team will be in touch.

One last thing to note is that, due to the growth the recruitment has been seeing, we’re currently hiring ourselves! We’re looking for 5 recruitment consultants to join our team, so for more details or if you’d like to apply, click .

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