As headlines about the national and global economy become gloomier by the day, it's tempting to assume that the recruitment market must be in freefall. While it is more depressed than it has been for years, experts agree that the situation is still complex.
Certain sectors are facing a decline in recruitment activity, while others are holding up. And HR professionals have an important role to play, both in terms of helping to avert a catastrophic collapse of confidence and finding ways to recruit the best staff within tight budget constraints.
The latest quarterly survey carried out by Ipsos Mori for the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and professional services firm KPMG of 1,221 employers found that employment prospects are weaker than at any time since the survey started in 2004, with recruitment activity falling and redundancies set to increase. The number of employers planning redundancies has increased from 22% to 27% since the last quarterly survey, while pay expectations are modest, despite higher inflation.
"The picture is mixed, although we see that recruitment intentions are highest in the private sector and lowest in the public sector, and redundancy intentions are highest in the public sector," says Claire McCartney, adviser, resourcing and organisation, at the CIPD. "But despite this, there are still skills shortages in some areas, such as engineering and science."
How HR is responding to this varies according to budget, says McCartney. But most organisations are trying to cut costs where they can. "Many see a shrinking role for recruitment agencies," she says. "And they are looking at new avenues, such as social networking sites, and trying to raise the profile of their organisation in the job market."
Even so, the CIPD survey found that Web 2.0 (second-generation use of the internet for recreation as well as simply a source of information) is still not widely used. More than eight in 10 respondents reported that they don't use this form of technology to attract or recruit employees. Most (71%) don't plan to introduce such technology in the next year, either. However, there is some interest in using social networking sites to attract or recruit new staff, the most popular sites being LinkedIn,