We're in recession now, that's official. This has happened for the first time in the UK since 2008. The definition of recession is when the economy shrinks for two quarters in a row. And that was bound to happen when large portions of the economy shut down almost overnight in March, so we shouldn't be too surprised. The question for job seekers and those more widely in the recruitment sector is more about how deep and how long lasting that recession is.
Of course, it's too early to say anything at all definitive about the future state of the job market.
Search engine Indeed recently updated its periodic review of vacancies and the graph so far is looking like it may be 'u-shaped' – a sharp slump, bumping along the bottom, followed hopefully by recovery.
But there are other possibilities - a long drawn out recession with a sustained dip, a double-dip 'w' shaped recession, with a false recovery and more trouble ahead, to name two.
Service sector slump
The UK economy has been hardest hit of the G7 Economies and this is largely because of our reliance on the service sector. These have been the first jobs to go. The service sector – retail, hospitality, financial services, etc – makes up around 80% of our GDP. Whilst the cliff edge in activity in some areas has led to a deep slump, there are also cautious grounds for optimism. The latest retail figures show month on month recovery levels and we're now 6% above February levels, pre-lockdown, in a mix of online and high street sales. It would be ironic (and not a little un-British) if we were able to shop our way out of trouble.
Indeed's data is already showing signs of an improvement in vacancy activity within food preparation and service jobs, following pubs and restaurants reopening. The Eat Out To Help Out scheme has been a massive boost to this sector (for a recent family birthday we struggled to book somewhere on an otherwise ordinary Tuesday).
In fact, many of our blue collar recruiters have not been too badly affected. Some showing a mini-boom, for example those in the healthcare sector, busy recruiting the vital staff that run our nursing homes.
Others too, like the recruiter that provides all the security staff for a major supermarket, are finding it less tough than others.
Some recruiters have shown an agile and flexible turn of hand and shifted focus, for example one of our clients now doing large volumes of work in the 'cleaning operative' sector, as a result of our new reliance on rigorous cleaning regimes.
Statistics and startups
Our own monitoring shows a distinct uptick in both the number of email alerts being sent out (made up of a combination of new jobs posted and those candidates registered to receive them) and general website traffic. Some of this is simply more candidates registering after they've been let go but we have noticed an improvement in job postings.
For example, this recruiter saw a 180% increase in website traffic in the months between February and July 2020, the most recent month for which we have data.
There are difficult times ahead for all of us, awkward decisions to be made, perhaps a shift of focus ...but also opportunities.
It's often been said that the best time to launch a business is in a recession. General Motors, Burger King, CNN, Uber and Airbnb all launched in recession and are amongst the dominant players in their sectors. If you can survive the hard times, the good times will be considerably easier.
In our own little world of recruitment website design and build, we see enquiries from recruiters with a few years' experience, ready to start their own operation.
This is a market well suited to our low cost, rapid design and build offering. Our SaaS model (software as a service) gives the advantage of a centrally hosted solution with access to periodic upgrades. All of the power of a full custom build, with a rapid rollout and quicker opportunity for return on investment.
Let us know if we can help.