The current state of the job market in 2024: A recruiter's perspective

Business Insights

As we find ourselves almost half way through 2024, it's a pertinent moment to take stock of the job market's trajectory thus far and to anticipate what lies ahead. The past few months have presented a mixed bag of trends, reflecting both ongoing stability and potential shifts in hiring dynamics.

Steady, yet cautious hiring trends

The job market has largely maintained a steady pace, showing slight seasonal fluctuations in the early months of the year. January and February witnessed modest upticks in activity, only to be followed by a dip in March. However, it's premature to interpret these fluctuations as indicative of a definitive market trend. Overall, hiring volumes are down compared to 2022 and it's a buyers market, particularly for salaries above £100k.

Emphasis on profit protection

Amidst economic uncertainties, businesses have adopted a cautious stance, prioritising the protection of profit margins. Many companies are opting to hold onto cash reserves, postponing significant investments until the latter half of the year. This conservative approach has translated into reduced spending with suppliers, triggering a wave of right-sizing within organisations.

Exploring global opportunities

A notable trend in recent months has been the increasing interest among job seekers in opportunities abroad. Regions such as the UAE, Singapore and North America have emerged as sought-after destinations, with candidates lured by the promise of lifestyle changes and enhanced wealth creation prospects overseas.

Promotion culture and talent development

In line with the cautious approach to external hiring, companies are placing greater emphasis on promoting talent from within their ranks. This shift not only fosters a culture of loyalty but also proves to be a cost-effective and lower-risk option for businesses, particularly in uncertain economic times.This is a good thing in my view and helps to build a promotion culture.

Data-Centric hiring and the pursuit of energy

Organisations are increasingly prioritising candidates with strong data acumen across various roles, reflecting the broader trend towards a data-first culture. Additionally, there's a growing emphasis on the importance of energy and enthusiasm among prospective hires, particularly for critical business and leadership positions.

Outlook for the remainder of 2024

Looking ahead to the second half of the year, cautious optimism prevails. Expectations include a potential rise in investments in new projects, which could translate into increased demand for contract assignments and supplier-side talent. However, for positions commanding salaries above £100k, it's anticipated to remain a buyer's market, with clients exercising patience and expecting more from candidates.

Focus areas for organisational investment

Key areas of investment for organisations in the coming months are expected to include Customer Experience, CRM & Loyalty, Data Insights, People & Culture, and AI adoption. These sectors are likely to drive demand for skilled professionals as businesses position themselves for growth amidst evolving market dynamics.

For the remainder of the year, we expect to see gradual improvement. We have been bumping along the bottom of the market for approximately 9 months, and I expect clients to re-invest in leadership hires in H2 with a view to getting people into the business by Q4 2024-Q1 2025.

By Tristan Amin, Managing Director at the Change Partners