Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

Jobs boosted but applications decrease in the penultimate month of the year: WaveTrackR November 2022 Recruitment Trends Report

The WaveTrackR November 2022 Recruitment Trends Report revealed that jobs rose by 17% from October to November, a trajectory we don’t often see in the last couple of months of the year.

The usual trend is for job activity to wane as businesses start to slow down towards the end of the year and as we head towards Christmas. Although, of course, we haven’t really had a ‘usual’ anything since the start of the pandemic. Applications, however, fell by 7% from October, having risen by 10% in October. So, jobs rise, applications fall - the candidate-short market doesn’t appear to be abating.

Businesses not slowing hiring

As we enter what would normally be a period of job activity deceleration, businesses are not showing any signs of slowing down. Instead, job posts leapt to 16% over the 2021 average in November after dropping to bang on the average in October. Its the highest weve seen jobs climb since June and is the joint third highest weve seen jobs all year. What makes this all the more remarkable is that this is occurring at a time of economic uncertainty and political instability. During such times, businesses often act with caution, slowing or even freezing hiring. But of course this is a recession like no other, with unemployment at a near-50-year low and businesses still clamouring for available candidates.

Applications in decline (again)  

The continued jobs push is likely due to labour shortages which remain as the year wanes. Applications fell to 39% above the 2021 average - still a long way over the incredibly low numbers we were seeing last year but a drop nonetheless. Many predicted that we might see a rise in applications with the cost of living crisis bringing some who had dropped out of the jobs market back into employment but that doesn’t appear to have happened yet. We might see these numbers pick up in a month or two when the ‘new year, new job’ mentality kicks in and people think about changing jobs or getting back into work.

For now, though, the rise in jobs and fall in applications has reduced the average number of applications per job from 16 in October to 13 in November. Of course, some industries are bucking the trend, including one that often sees a rise in applications at this time of year - Retail & Wholesale received an average of 20 applications per job, the second highest of all industries, proving that candidates are responding to festive season job drives.

IT & Internet continues to dominate the jobs market

IT & Internet was yet again the most active industry both in terms of jobs posted and applications received, taking the top spot for each for an incredible seventh consecutive month. The industry received more than double the number of applications of the next highest industry for applications, Secretarial, PAs & Admin. It also saw a job posting percentage difference of 49% from the industry posting the next highest numbers of jobs, Education. Big Tech may be cutting staff but the tech industry as a whole is proving to be incredibly strong.

Health & Nursing faces a huge skills shortage

Health & Nursing is consistently in the top 5 for jobs posted, never in the top 5 for applications received, and regularly receives the lowest average number of applications per job of all industries. In November, Health & Nursing received an average of just 3 applications per job - 10 under the overall average and the lowest recorded this month. We know Health & Nursing is struggling to attract candidates - it’s a historical labour shortage that goes back decades and is unlikely to change until a number of issues are addressed. The upcoming nurses strikes highlight the grievances that are plaguing the industry, with pay a huge problem.

Secretarial, PAs & Admin: low jobs, high applications

The Secretarial, PAs & Admin sector is experiencing the opposite trend to the average across all industries. Jobs remain relatively low in both but application numbers are high. There have been high numbers of applications in the Secretarial, PAs & Admin sector for some time now and it received a high average of 19 applications per job in November.

Niche job boards remain top for in-demand industries

IT-focused JobServe has run away with the highest average number of applications per job, reaching an average of 18, 4 more than the next highest. Another niche IT job board, CW Jobs, equalled Secretarial, PA & Admin-focused board, Secs in the City at 14. Also at 14 is the only generalist job board in the top 4, Totaljobs. The other generalist job boards in the top 6 received considerably lower numbers, with Reed receiving an average of 6 applications per job and CV-Library receiving an average of 5.

Tuesday the day to post

WaveTrackR’s November report has revealed a change in the most active days for job activity.  Most applications were received on Tuesdays but the highest percentage of jobs were posted on Wednesdays. Ideally recruiters need to be posting their jobs on the same day that candidates are most actively searching or, at a push, the previous day, as WaveTrackR data also shows that the majority of applications are received within a day of a job being posted.

As 2022 begins to wind down, it’s as if jobs haven’t got the memo. We’re not seeing huge surges in jobs but to increase at all, especially when businesses are struggling with rising costs, is certainly noteworthy. The drop in applications may simply be a result of candidates taking a break from the job search, ready to continue in the new year, or it could be that people are staying put in their jobs for job security during these uncertain times. Either way, December and January’s data will be interesting. Watch this space!