HR jobs hit all-time low as recession bites

Demand for HR jobs has slumped to a record low as firms have begun to freeze hiring, new figures have revealed.

The Monster Employment Index found that online job demand in the HR sector has been in sharp decline for six months in a row, stooping to the worst in the five years the report has run. Year-on-year, demand plummeted 63%.

Hugo Sellert, head of economic research at Monster Worldwide, told Personnel Today the economic crisis was taking its toll on the HR profession. He said: “Many firms are cutting back HR in anticipation of slow hiring this year. Businesses are struggling. A lot of the cuts [in HR] are in recruitment. Within the corporate HR function, employee engagement and talent management are safer.”

Sellert warned wise HR recruitment professionals looking to keep their jobs in the coming months to re-skill quickly to prove they can do more than their day job. “For HR professionals, it depends how fast the economy gains traction again – HR people are being laid off now and existing HR staff should therefore upgrade their skillset to other HR areas [such as employee engagement].”

“The decline in HR positions being advertised right now is a leader of what’s to come – there is lower demand for recruiters. But some recruiters can work in other positions where they have expertise and which is needed right now, such as training,” he added.

Overall the index, a monthly analysis of millions of online job opportunities from corporate career sites and UK job boards, decreased by 11 points in December 2008 to reach a level of 141 – now at its lowest level since May 2007. Year-on-year, the index was down 33 points, or 19% compared to a 10% annual decrease in the previous month, indicating a dramatic slowdown in recruiting at the end of 2008.

However, Sellert said the worst of the jobs slump had already happened: “It was pretty dismal in December. My hopes are we have now seen the brunt of the decline. I expect no further deterioration [to HR jobs].”

Other sectors to fare badly included healthcare and social work. The banking finance and insurance sector also saw a marked annual decrease in job availability.

In contrast there was a surge in demand for education, training and library workers for the third straight month.

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