Jobs up(again) and applications down: WaveTrackR November data reveals the continuation of a candidate-driven market

After a slight fall in October, jobs are on the ascendence once more. WaveTrackR’s jobs and applications data from November found an 8% rise in jobs, whilst applications fell by 1% following a 2 month rise.

Given job activity often decreases in the final two months of the year, an 8% jobs rise is significant, especially combined with a dip in applications, however small. It appears likely that we will be seeing a talent-short, candidate-driven market for some time to come. 

Bar graph with the jobs and applications trend in November 2021, compared to 2020 average
Job posting and applications by month | November 2021 Report

In October, jobs fell for the first time since April. However, this followed a month where jobs reached a huge 400% over the 2020 monthly average – a year-high.

In November, jobs reached 383% over the 2020 monthly average, an 8% increase on October’s figures and close to reaching September’s record figures. The numbers are extraordinary, especially given hiring activity usually slows as we approach the end of the year. 2021 has been anything but usual and it seems that will continue right to the end.

Applications dropped from October but, at 145% over the 2020 monthly average, only October has recorded higher figures during 2021. At 1%, the drop amounts to a plateau rather than a dramatic fall. However, what November’s figures do show is that the gap between jobs and available candidates is not narrowing. Jobs are still far higher than available candidates and recruiters are going to have to continue to work extra hard to attract talent as we move into 2022.

Pie charts with the recruitment industries with most jobs and applications in November 2021
Industries with most jobs and applications | November 2021 Report

Looking more closely at jobs and applications data for individual industries, not much has changed from October. Public Sector remains in the top 5 industries for number of jobs posted, although its percentage share has grown, placing it at the top of the charts. The sector is still not receiving equivalent numbers of applications however, indicating the skills shortage remains a major issue. IT & Internet, Education and Secretarial, PAs & Admin all find themselves in the top 5 for both jobs posted and applications received yet again – a good sign that candidate availability is closely matching vacant jobs in those sectors.  

Health & Nursing, an industry severely hit by historic skills shortages, compounded by the pandemic and Brexit, continues to post high numbers of jobs whilst simultaneously receiving low numbers of applications for those jobs. The sector received an average of just 2 applications per job, placing it joint first with Public Sector for the lowest numbers of average applications per job across all industries. Agriculture, an industry that was hit hard by the exodus of EU workers following the pandemic and Brexit, received an average of just 3 applications per job in November, proving that it continues to face difficulties hiring workers.

Finding itself in the top 5 for number of applications received again in November, Manufacturing does not have an issue with low candidate availability but it is still not posting comparable numbers of jobs. COVID-19 and Brexit hurt the industry but Manufacturing trade body Make UK indicated in their Manufacturing Outlook 2021 Q3 Report that Q3 looked strong, with many companies returning to work at ‘unprecedented levels’. However, new growth is yet to occur for many in the sector as the industry as a whole is still ‘clawing back lost output’ from 2020 and jobs may not start to rise at a faster rate until 2022.    

Finance and Banking – often perceived to be safe, stable career choices – continue to receive a high average number of applications per job. But it was Management Consultancy who received the highest average numbers of applications per job in November – a huge 50 compared to Finance’s 24. Media & Creative makes a new entry into this category, receiving an average of 21 applications per job, a number on par with Engineering (which remains unchanged from October).

Based on WaveTrackR’s November data, we are undoubtedly still in a candidate’s market and it is unlikely that will change in the coming months. The impetus for recruiters must be on using every tool they have to attract talent to their jobs. Targeted job ads, targeted job posting and a positive candidate journey are all essential to compete in a tight market. 

Read more on our November 2021 report

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