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Strong Rise in Applications for HR and Recruitment Roles - Are the Jobs There?

Posted by Megan Stollery

04-Mar-2014 19:00:00


Broadbean's recently released Recruitment Trends Report 2013 contained a lot of positive data about the UK job market with vacancy numbers and applications showing healthy growth. Aside from the headline numbers though there were marked differences between industry sectors with construction, automotive and medical showing large increases whilst retail, insurance and accountancy were amongst those that showed a drop in vacancy numbers.

An overall growing labour market would tend to be good news for the Recruitment and HR sectors, so I was quite surprised to see that of the 18 sectors showing growth they only registered at 13th and 16th respectively. What could be happening?

More recruitment of recruiters

In terms of Recruitment Consultancy roles there was a 4.2% increase in vacancy numbers (a relief after the 11.4% decrease registered in 2012) with a marked increase in candidates showing an interest in the sector - 31% more applications and a 25% rise in applications per vacancy.

80% of the vacancies showed salaries of £20-30,000 (this would be basic salaries as opposed to OTE) with this bracket also accounting for 84% of the applications. With barely 2% of vacancies offering a salary in excess of £50,000 it would seem that most of the hiring activity was for trainee recruiters and those with up to 2 years experience, a sign of new blood entering the industry and progression opportunities for those who cut their teeth during a tough couple of years.

This seems broadly in line with the RECs 2013 survey that showed average basic salaries of £27,820 and average OTEs of £35,312. However their findings also showed 17% earning basic salaries in excess of £50,000 which, in light of the low number of vacancies at that level, could indicate a fair bit of internal promotion within the sector with any moves coming as a result of direct recruitment  - encouraging signs for those taking their first steps. 

Overall there was a small drop (2.0%) in advertised basic salaries, though these fluctuated during the year, giving some insight into hiring patterns. The months when basic salaries offered were at their highest were March and September (often the traditional months of busy permanent recruitment activity) whilst May and June were the months during which the lowest basic salaries were offered - usually a busy period for bringing on graduate trainees.

The REC report had found professional/business services recruiters with the second largest increase in total earnings but the smallest increase in basic salaries. Given that the Broadbean report showed a decrease in vacancies within accountancy, insurance and financial services sectors this would seem to indicate that the rewards are there for successful recruiters to earn commission/bonus in tight or shrinking sectors, but not necessarily to command higher basic salaries.

So what about HR?

2012 had seen a 7.3% drop in advertised vacancies and this improved slightly in 2013 whilst application volumes grew, registering a 20% increase during 2013.

What recruitment there is seems to be happening amongst the more junior roles, with 75% of vacancies falling in to the £20-40,000 salary bracket whilst 70% of all applications were for roles in the £20-30,000 bracket. 

The £40-50,000 salary bracket accounted for almost 17% of vacancies whilst there was negligible advertised recruitment activity at salaries in excess of this. 

Recent data from within the HR sector had indicated an increase in salaries, with the XpertHR survey showing a 3.3% rise. This doesn't appear to have translated to better rewards for people moving jobs however, with the Broadbean report showing a 3% drop in advertised salaries, although I accept that this was an improvement on 2012's 11.3% fall. Advertised salaries showed an increase at the start of the year, peaking in February and March, but then declined gradually culminating in November and December reflecting some of the lowest paid HR roles for more than 3 years.

The apparent lack of advertised permanent vacancies above the £75,000 level would seem to indicate either an increase in senior people moving through networks or search (direct approaches), or that more of those roles are being filled on an interim or consultative basis, the likelihood being that it's a mixture of the two.

What conclusions can I draw?

The overall trends point to an increase in activity within these sectors, whilst the lack of advertised hiring for more experienced people could be as a result of more direct recruitment, more freelance/interim working and probably also a sign of some of the much talked about productivity slack being utilised.

The main points are:

  • Increasing recruitment for more junior roles in both HR and recruitment consultancies
  • Much increased candidate activity for these roles
  • Little improvement in salaries for those in positions requiring less experience
  • There are commission/bonus rewards for recruiters who can perform in a challenging sector
  • A more varied approach to filling senior roles or those requiring greater experience

If you are hiring for HR professionals or recruitment consultants let me know how you are finding the market...


Topics: recruitment , trends , HR , Guest Blogger , Predictions , Mervyn Dinnen