WaveTrackR November data reveals decelerating applications and jobs

We have grown used to soaring applications across many industries but WaveTrackR data collected in November reveals that applications decreased by over 40% from October. Jobs, too, have dipped, though by a far less sizeable 9%. It is not wholly unexpected – this follows a seasonal trend of a winding down of recruitment activity as the year wanes – but the magnitude by which applications have dropped required further investigation.

The extension of the furlough scheme, job seekers taking time out to retrain or to form new businesses, and sheer job search fatigue are likely all factors in the fall in applications. The important point to note is that both jobs and applications remain higher than in the early months of the year prior to the first lockdown.

Further indications that the drop in applications is the end of year-induced can be found in the weekly data. Other than a slight rise in the third week of the month, applications have been gradually decreasing throughout November – until we get to the final week that is. From 101% above the average between January and March in the penultimate week of November down to 59% above that average – a considerable 41% drop in a week as we head towards December.

In the monthly data, we can clearly see the drop in applications – from a massive 148% over the average for January-March in October (the highest this year) to +87% in November. At that level, they remain high but are returning to more manageable levels. Just as a slowing down in recruiter and candidate activity is usual for the time of year, so was the uptick in activity in October.

Candidates make a last push to search for jobs before thoughts turn to Christmas and employers ready their staffing levels and teams to start the year in earnest. Once we hit November, business tends to slow and plans are put in place for the following year. Of course, this year we also have the fact that some candidates will have been job seeking for months now and job search fatigue will undoubtedly be setting in. Some will taking time out to reassess, others will be thinking about a change in tactic and starting to retrain, and there will be those who might be waiting until vaccinations have begun and the world starts to return to some sort of normality.

The industries posting the highest number of jobs remains unchanged from October, although, at 19% of all jobs posted in November, Education has overtaken IT & Internet to claim the top spot. Property has also risen above Public Sector this month, as the industry continues to boom. It is perhaps unsurprising that three of the five industries posting the lion’s share of jobs are those recruiting essential workers (Education, Public Sector, Health & Nursing), whilst the other two (IT & Internet and Property) have boomed as a direct result of the pandemic. IT & Internet, Education and Property also take the top spots when it comes to applications – a welcome synergy, indicating those three industries are meeting demand for jobs.

On the flip side, Engineering has recorded a surge in applications over the past month – 8% of the total, making it the fourth highest industry for applications received. Unlike the three highest (IT & Internet, Education and Property), however, those applications are unmatched by jobs. As a highly agency-based industry whose contractors have shed most of their agency staff, many in Engineering have found themselves looking for jobs that are not being created. The majority of jobs in the Engineering industry lie in project development but Covid has forced many of those projects to be cancelled or postponed indefinitely. The energy sectors are experiencing a process of seismic change as the government is looking to build back greener but it will be at least 12 months before the green projects start to build momentum to reach the size requiring large engineering teams.

Finally, Recruitment Sales are still experiencing a high volume of applications without corresponding levels of job activity but the sector recorded 4% fewer applications than the previous month.

So, November was the month where activity slowed but retained buoyancy. As we hurtle towards the end of what has undeniably been an incredibly challenging year, we will take that.

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