Given we have been in lockdown since January and are only now hoping to emerge, recruitment has dealt with the dip in business confidence and endless uncertainty remarkably well.
In the world of accountancy practices, as soon as the Government announced schools were closing there was an instant impact on the labour market, with a fall in the number of permanent recruits and a slowdown in the growth of temporary placements.
Switching their focus, businesses became rightly absorbed with supporting existing employees and mobilising teams to work from home once more. Alongside the economic unease, jobs vacancies were placed on hold, with hiring decisions stalling, and people becoming reluctant to move.
Fortunately, the trend has been short-lived, and businesses appear to have quickly bounced back from a recruitment point of view.
The publication of a roadmap to recovery, an extension to the furlough scheme, and being able to see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel has helped to buoy confidence and resurrect people’s appetite to think and act positively.
In the past month, we have seen a continuous increase in the number of permanent vacancies coming to market. Whether it is firms playing catch up or new investment, only time will tell, but industry research points to this being the case in other sectors too, with demand for temporary recruitment continuing for those a little more uncertain about the future.
We are also seeing an increase in maternity cover on the horizon. The impact of a “COVID baby boom” is leaving companies with the dilemma of whether to replace temporarily now or invest in permanent cover, intending to retain both people in the long-term.
Sadly, we have not yet seen the same signs of recruitment picking up for trainees, but as confidence returns, I hope this will change so skill shortages can be avoided further down the line.
So, with some positivity in job creation, the spotlight inevitably turns to the availability of great people and, so far, the growth is slow. In fact, in a recent KMPG report, London was the only area to see a real increase in this respect.
I know from experience that those looking for a new challenge in the North East are mostly doing so in light of concerns about job security in their current workplace, because of frustration with a lack of career progression, or because of the way they perceive their treatment throughout the pandemic.
Many have also reappraised their priorities in the last 12 months and struggle with the thought of returning to their old work-life-balance. Instead, they want to leave behind an environment where they work too many hours and replace it with something that fits better with their new outlook.
The most common request is a job offering a permanent mix of office and home working.
Of course, all of this is good news if you are a specialist in your field and want a change. If that is the case, you are likely to be fortunate enough to receive multiple job offers, typically in a short space of time.
However, be warned that even with good people in short supply and fierce competition to attract the best talent common, the frugal nature of businesses right now has not meant that starting salaries have skyrocketed.
Companies are holding firm across the board in this respect, with very little increase or decrease on starting salaries month on month.
The emphasis is very much on the role, the opportunity for progression and the culture, which means if you want to be successful as a recruiter, it is very much on you to either show people why you are the best place to work or find someone they trust to help to do it for you.