Six or seven weeks into 2014 may seem an odd time to reflect on the market, but we've seen and experienced things over the past few months which have felt different (in a very positive way) to previous years.
The old recruitment cliché is that after a quiet couple of months leading up to Christmas (when recruitment is put on hold whilst the holiday celebrations go on), everything then starts again on the first day back in January. The general perception is that firms suddenly decide that the start of the year would be a good time to recruit as candidates will come flooding onto the market, the holiday period having convinced them that they want a change of role.
Having recruited these roles in the professional services sector for the past 17 years (and therefore having experienced that number of Christmas/New Year periods) the reality is nearly always different. You tend to get slight changes in activity over the November, December months where it becomes a little quieter and more difficult to schedule interviews/meetings with clients, and then you get a slight influx again - often starting a couple of weeks into January.
This year however has been noticeably different and we view this change as a very positive sign going forward. Reflecting back on the last 2 or 3 months of 2013, there was a constant and exciting flow of activity and no slow-down at all. Firms were posting new roles and holding agency briefings right up until Christmas. We even had some candidates going in for interviews on the afternoon of the 24th December simply because clients were keen to either get a process started or keep momentum going.
We also saw a significant increase in the number of interviews taking place between Christmas and New Year, a time when we were also getting many new enquiries from candidates. As we returned in the New Year, we had vacancy briefings with clients booked in for 10am on the first day back and we have seen no let-up in the proceeding weeks.
The fact that the holiday period remained extremely busy has had a fantastic knock-on effect in January/February. None of Leighton Taylor's consultants can remember a time (and this includes periods where the market was at it's strongest) when we have had so many offers made by clients (and therefore placements) in the first month of the year.
Overall it means clients want to recruit and candidates are confident enough in the market to move. Expectations remain high on both sides but we expect and hope that these are all good signs for 2014!