HR Job Market Update – January 2019

In my last update on the HR jobs market I highlighted how we have gathered our shopping basket of data that will provide a useful insight into market trends for those working in HR. If you have not read the first article it is worth a quick read as it will provide a bit of context.

I am going to start this write up with an apology. We want to get these updates out each quarter ideally but we have happily been inundated with work and I am sure that you will understand that meeting our clients` needs is an absolute priority. I have never known a December or January to be quite so busy. That is enough about Fetch Recruitment; on with the update…

Number of jobs advertised LinkedIn Vs Job Boards

It is to be expected that the number of jobs advertised in December will dip. Employers tend to put off recruitment until the festivities are out of the way but we would have expected November to create more job HR opportunities than is outlined on the graph below. The market does appear to be fairly buoyant, it is just not following usual historic trends. Months that are typically busy are quiet and vice versa.

Politically we are entering an interesting few months. Whilst many of us may be suffering Brexit fatigue, it would be surprising if we did not see some impact on the HR jobs market. It is not uncommon for us to see a bit of ‘corporate paralysis’ in the employment market overall when major economic or political events take place (we also see this for major sporting events such as the World Cup and the Olympics).

When roles are vacated we may just see decisions to replace people postponed until things become clearer. That said, organisations cannot rest on their laurels and we do all have to try and maintain a ‘business as usual’ approach if we want to encourage business growth.

When recruiting for clients, as well as advertising we proactively headhunt candidates for our roles. In the last few weeks, we have found that increasingly candidates are looking to stay put for the time being. Where there is uncertainty, you will often find that those that might normally be looking for a new role are not sticking their heads above the parapet.

Previously, when we have witnessed recessions, marketing and HR are often where we see cutbacks made first and this is usually a good indicator of what will happen in the wider jobs market next. We may see a slightly different picture the next time there is slump as there is a definite trend of businesses operating leaner HR teams than they used to. During and after the last recession, HR Directors were expected to achieve far more with less resource. The result of this is that we now see lots of interesting new job titles where two jobs have been melded together. We filled an ER & Reward Analyst role recently and those are two distinct skill-sets that you don’t often see together.

Permanent Vs Contract

By comparison to the data gathered for the market as a whole that was lifted from a variety of job boards, we use Reed solely to gather data for job by contract type. The peaks and troughs on this graph tie in with what we would normally expect as it shows a definite increase in HR jobs in November.

The market for contract resource in HR has remained relatively flat. There will always be a steady need for operational cover and specialist resource for specific projects. Where this graph does not differentiate is between those roles of a fixed term contract or a day rate interim nature.

Although we place a number of ‘career interims’ on day rates there are definitely a lot more fixed term contracts available than there were a decade ago. This indicates that there are more permanent candidates that are readily available to start work quickly.

There are people that are happy to work on fixed term contracts on an ongoing basis, by comparison to the ‘day-raters’, but most fixed term contractors ultimately want a permanent job. Whilst FTCs are generally cheaper, there is often the chance that they will not see the contract through. We always advise clients to weigh this up but it can be mitigated with a longer notice period on contracts.

By HR Discipline

It is helpful to look at trends by job type. The data gathered from Personnel Today after 4 months already starts to build a picture. Clearly any analysis of these figures is based on conjecture but we can make some educated guesses as to why some disciplines in HR might be busier than others and why these might vary over time.

By way of an example, the rise in compensation and benefits roles towards the end of the year is not uncommon as employers start to look at pay reviews and the demand for these skills ramps up. Jobs in resourcing really dropped off in November and perhaps this is due to a quieter period in recruitment overall towards the end of the year. Hiring might be put off until the turn of the year on this but we will have a better picture over the next few months if this is an ongoing trend.

Salary Trends

Most of the jobs advertised in HR sit in the £30-50k bracket and this certainly ties in with our view of the market. We do tend to see cyclical trends in the level of jobs that we handle. We might have a raft of more senior roles that we take briefs on and then as those roles are filled, clients move onto filling their more junior requirements.

I have never been entirely clear whether there is a busy time of year for senior appointments. Having spoken to our partners at Tucker Stone who specialise in HR Leadership roles (and are superb if you need help filling director level vacancies in HR) Hugo Tucker had this to say…

“Larger companies tend to start senior hiring post January which is predominantly a planning month where budgets are finalised. This is less prevalent in smaller companies who are keen to hire even at senior level as soon as the year begins.”

HR Jobs by Sector

It is interesting to note that there has been a spike in jobs in the financial service, legal and professional service sectors as we often find candidates in those industries move from one to the other. If there is a certain level of churn in one then perhaps this is having a knock-on effect on the others.

Manufacturing roles have slowed down and we are certainly seeing some of our clients in this space putting hiring decisions on hold for the time being. It is well-publicised that the automotive sector is cutting jobs back and a couple of our clients in the manufacturing space have recruitment freezes in place for the time being.


The market does appear to be pretty buoyant at the moment. Candidates that we are speaking to seem to feel that there is a lot out there at the moment and we have been incredibly busy. You do get a good feel for the market by speaking to people every day and there is a lot of positivity at present despite some candidates wanting to sit tight for now. The market is just a bit more candidate-led at the moment. Employers that have the slickest recruitment processes and are offering the best career development opportunities will land the best people.

Without a doubt we are embarking upon an interesting few months. As we get a clearer picture of what is happening in the `Westminster Village`, where things change on a daily basis, employers’ hiring confidence will fluctuate and this should be reflected in the data that we gather over the next quarter.

If you have any personal insights into what you are experiencing from the information gathered, I would love to hear it and perhaps share it in future reviews. As I mentioned in our last article, if it would be useful for us to try and gather any other data, do let us know and if we can collate this we will do so. We are always happy to provide salary benchmarking data to our clients if this is useful but we tailor it to each businesses’ geographical location.

We have been very busy but have lots of great candidates and would be delighted to take briefs on new roles. If we can help you at all with hires into HR, please feel free to email me on or if you are looking for a new role in HR you can take a look at our jobs page here.

Thanks for reading!

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