WaveTrackR December 2022 Recruitment Trends Report Shows a Decline in Jobs and Applications as 2022 Ends

According to the WaveTrackR December 2022 Recruitment Trends Report, both jobs and applications fell significantly in December compared to November, with jobs sliding by 25% and applications dropping by 22%. A decline in activity is normal in the final stretch of the year. As businesses, employees, and candidates prepare for the holiday season, ongoing economic unpredictability could also be a factor. We dug into the data, examined the facts behind the figures, and attempted to decipher the job market as 2022 came to a close.

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Economic instability could contribute to the drop

Jobs tumbled to the combined lowest level in 2022, matching July’s shock low figures of 13% below the 2021 average. Application numbers were also extremely low – at 8% above the 2021 average, they were the lowest seen in 2022. While a drop in job activity is a seasonal trend caused by an annual downturn as we approach the end of the year, the rate at which the figures fell warrants consideration of other factors.

Between September and November 2022, the Office for National Statistics recorded a significant drop in quarterly vacancy growth for the fifth consecutive period, and single-month vacancy statistics had shown a large monthly fall in November, taking them to their lowest level since July 2021. According to WaveTrackR data, job creation was lower in the second half of the year than in the first. This is most likely due to the continued uncertainty in the majority of industries, with ONS respondents reporting that economic pressures are a major factor in a reduction in recruitment.

IT and the Internet continue to rule job activity statistics

For the eighth consecutive month, IT & Internet posted the most jobs and received the highest percentage of applications. The industry posted 21% of all jobs and received 23% of all applications, a far greater percentage share than the next highest posting and receiving industries (Education posted 13% of all jobs and Manufacturing gained 13% of all applications). The industry may have been rattled by sweeping massive layoffs at major Big Tech companies in the second half of 2022, but those layoffs are far from indicative of the tech industry’s overall strength.

Wavetrackr December 2022 Recruitment Trends Report Shows a Decline in Jobs and Applications as 2022 Ends
Wavetrackr December 2022 Recruitment Trends Report Shows a Decline in Jobs and Applications as 2022 Ends

Health and Nursing, as well as the Public Sector, are experiencing severe candidate deficits

For many years, both Health & Nursing and the Public Sector have struggled to fill vacancies due to historically inadequate funding and resources. With the nurses’ strike in December making public the need for higher wages and better working conditions, the industry’s average number of applications per job fell to just two (the average across all industries in December was 13). In December, the public sector received an average of only four applications per job, and while both industries were among the top five in terms of job postings, they were not among the top five in terms of applications received. Something must be done to help with recruitment in these areas, and much of it must come from the government before we face an epic crisis.

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Financial services industry gains a large number of applications per job

In uncertain times, it is natural to seek stability in all aspects of life, including your career. In the latest Talent Matters podcast episode, LinkedIn Sales Director Cara O’Leary revealed that job security is the fourth highest priority for candidates looking for work on the platform in the United Kingdom. Financial services industries have a notoriety for being relatively secure – we saw many sectors receive high average numbers of applications per job during the pandemic, and we are seeing it again in these economically uncertain times. Finance (24 applications per job) and Accountancy (20 applications per job) are the two industries with the highest average number of applications per job.

Niche job boards  top 3 applications per job on an average

Niche job boards diligently rank high in terms of average application per job numbers, and the top three job boards in December were all niche. Jobserve, an IT specialist job board, received the highest average number of applications per job for the second consecutive month, receiving an average of 20 applications per job. Secretarial, PAs and admin-focused board Secs in the City received an average of 17 applications per job, while catering specialist Caterer.com received an average of 16 applications per job. Totaljobs had the highest average number of applications per job of the generalist job boards, with 13, followed by Reed.co.uk and CV Library, both with an average of 5.

Thursday was the busiest day of the week in December

Thursday was the most active weekday in December, with the highest percentage of jobs posted and the most applications received. This is a departure from the norm, as candidates typically prefer to meet at the start of the week.

We would normally expect both job and application figures to rise as we enter a new year; whether or not this occurs will be a reliable indicator of how strongly the economic situation is affecting the jobs market. The January Recruitment Trends Report from WaveTrackR will be fascinating reading.

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