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Is the HR jobs market improving?

Posted on from Robert Walters

Kate Francis, manager of HR recruitment at Robert Walters, discusses the latest trends in the HR jobs market.

HR jobs levels on the rise

The HR jobs market is looking relatively positive at the moment, and vacancy levels are slowly on the rise. We are seeing demand in a variety of areas, with opportunities becoming available for HR generalists and reward, change management and recruitment specialists.

HR job levels have increased marginally across the financial services. Firms are now more willing to commit to longer-term hires after budgets were released at the start of the financial year. A range of buy-and-sell side institutions are hiring at the junior level, where the majority of hiring is occurring. We are seeing most demand from retail banks and smaller asset managers for senior HR professionals as these organisations seek strategy leaders.

Job levels are also on the rise across commerce and industry, where they are noticeably higher than this time last year, and employer confidence is on the rise. With energy, oil and gas businesses cash-rich, we are seeing notable demand for HR professionals from these employers. Technology and pharmaceutical companies are also hiring in relatively high volumes due to growth across these sectors.

Focus on HR specialists

Most demand is at the junior to mid-levels at the moment, with a distinct focus on specialist HR rather than generalist positions. Within financial services, we are seeing notable demand for change management and occupational development professionals because firms want people to support broader restructuring activity. We are also seeing demand for reward and internal recruitment specialists from these firms. In commerce and industry, learning and development professionals are especially sought-after.

Across all sectors, reward vacancies remain a mainstay of the HR jobs market due to a continued focus on employee retention. Employers are particularly keen to find the most effective and innovative ways to reward their best staff as they seek to maximise efficiencies. After major compensation rounds were resolved earlier in the year, more professionals with expertise in this area are now ready to move.

As new budgets have been released, employers have also looked to hire internal recruitment specialists. For these jobs, firms are seeking strong market knowledge and are therefore putting significant emphasis on sector-specific experience.

Despite these main trends, HR generalists in the £40-65k salary range are still being hired. Firms continue to want people who can carry out employee relations duties alongside other HR tasks.

Salaries remain competitive

Salaries continue to be competitive and HR professionals who secure new jobs are receiving increases when moving. Because of increased demand at the mid-level (i.e. jobs in the £40–60k salary range) professionals securing these jobs are receiving salary packages worth about 5% more than earlier in the year. Due to ongoing restructuring activity within financial services firms, HR shared services professionals continue to receive relatively high salaries. Specialists with relevant transformation exposure are now attracting rates of £600 per day or £95k per year.

The jobs market remains very competitive; to secure these higher salary levels, employers are specifically looking for relevant sector experience and a strong CV.

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