Conditions Never Tougher for Job Seekers

Conditions Never Tougher for Job Seekers

Job seekers are experiencing the toughest conditions for years according to recruiter Totaljobs, which says the number of people applying for each vacancy has reached a 20-month high.

A survey by Totaljobs found that the number of jobs available in the first three months of 2010 fell by a quarter compared to the same three months last year. However, the number of job applications increased by a third in the same period.

The findings echo the latest data from the Office of National Statistics, which found that the number of unemployed people rose by 43,000 to 2.5 million during the three months to February this year. This is the highest jobless total since 1994.

Totaljobs director, John Salt, said that competition for work had never been so fierce.

“For employers, this means greater choice and more experienced applicants looking for new positions.”

“Those that might have chosen to stay at home, travel or embark on further study are returning to the job market after a year out and are driving job applications up.”

According to HR firm PurpleLine Consulting’s director, Hilary Jeanes, now is a good time for small firms to recruit because they can benefit from the wider candidate pool. However, she said employers needed to pinpoint their exact skill requirements first.

“When the job market is very competitive, businesses need to be very clear what they’re looking for. The more general you are about the role, the more applications you will get.”

She added that employers also needed to be open to the idea of taking somebody on who had previously been unemployed or had been made redundant.

“It’s important to look at what that person has been doing with their time. Often, the best candidates are those who’ve been quite creative, by doing voluntary work or travelling, as they’ve picked up new skills that those plodding along in a job haven’t.”

According to the survey, customer services was one of the most competitive sectors for jobs, with an average of 24 applications per vacancy, followed by construction, with 20.

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