Recruiters’ opinions on applicant boon time or New Year blip

Is the rise in January applications just a seasonal boost or the signal for a more prosperous 2020 in recruitment?

While recruiters are hopeful January’s uptick in applications is a sign of better things to come, they are not entirely convinced that this is anything more than the traditional New Year application numbers witnessed at the start of every year.

This week, recruitment giant REED released findings revealing an 89% spike in job applications on the first working Monday of the new year, compared to the average Monday in December.

As well as job applications, REED’s data also showed a rise in visitors to its online site, with over 500,000 jobseekers looking for new roles across the firm’s job database.

Ricky Martin, managing director of Hyper Recruitment Solutions, told Recruiter in the first two weeks of January his agency had indeed seen a significant rise in the number of job applications both on the HRS website, as well as via intermediary parties. 

“This is an expected seasonal trend, which has not really changed compared to the last few years, with the election result really being last year’s news and not impacting the 2020 market.” However, he added, despite this sounding like a positive time of year for the jobseeker market, “recruiters must be warned that the amount of time wasters in this market has also risen significantly”. 

He continued: “Sometimes, the reason people are feeling low and in need of a change is not because there is anything wrong with their current job, it is the ‘New Year, New You’ hype compounded with terrible weather and the festive period hangover. So tread carefully representing candidates who don’t give you commitment – no matter how good they look in paper.”

And Sophie Milliken, director, Smart Resourcing Solutions, warns agencies always see a huge uplift on the first Monday after the break compared with the run up to Christmas: “The New Year often brings time for reflection, and many people see the start of a new year as being the ideal time to change jobs. The fact that we have moved into a new decade may have amplified that.”

Olivia Spruce, CEO at Positive Healthcare, told Recruiter her agency has only witnessed a moderate increase in candidate generation, adding any upturn is commensurate with the New Year but certainly not exceeding the seasonal norm. 

“Where, however, we have seen a huge upturn this year has been the volume and variety of jobs registered by our clients in both the private sector and NHS. Whilst this can be attributed to ‘winter pressures’ to an extent, the volume of vacancies registered has been staggering, particularly within therapies and AHP [allied health professionals].”

And Lisa Greenhalgh, director, Finlay Jude Associates, told Recruiter the agency generally finds January is the time of year that many people seek a new opportunity, be it for a career change, for a higher salary or simply because the New Year often brings new beginnings.

“January in the FJA office is traditionally our busiest time of year for applications and this year hasn’t been an exception. We are optimistic that we will see a further increase in applications during 2020 due to a more stable future, both politically and economically. In any event, we are prepared for any eventuality and will adapt to whatever this year may bring!”

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