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What's Happening In the Aberdeen Job Market?

23rd March 2016

Generally, the volume of candidate enquiries is abating, reflecting lower redundancy levels. Unfortunately, we anticipate this will be relatively short-lived as analysts predict a rise in merger and acquisition activity this year, which will inevitably lead to further consolidation.

Job flow remains depressed, in part because many organisations are choosing to manage their own recruitment through in-house referral schemes, word of mouth and on-line platforms. The dichotomy for candidates is that being identified via these channels comes down to how proficient they are at self-promotion and making their CV stand out. Correspondingly, in-house recruiters have to be pretty "online" savvy to maximise the efficacy of their searches.

There's been much discussion regarding employer nervousness to hire personnel with an oil and gas background, with many questioning their "stick-ability" should market conditions improve. It's true, some employers do feel this way, but this is certainly not the consensus and what's less frequently discussed are the good news stories, of companies hiring employees they could only have dreamed of before the downturn. Another scenario, which may be hard to accept for many, is at the senior end of the market some personnel received very handsome redundancy payments creating a financial "cushion" which affords them the luxury of choosing the type of work they accept now. This is resulting in very successful interim placements with candidates accepting a short-term role because they are enthused by the role content and the people they'll be working with, while the organisation gains from a short-term injection of knowledge, skills and instruction which will have long-term positive effects.

Different perspectives on how to move forwards are also reflected in the activity within our Business Development & Sales specialism. SME organisations which are investing in this area are looking for a generalist who can perform across business development, sales and marketing and often, who also have experience of selling to overseas markets. Within these roles employers are preferring to hire appropriate to the post in order to better manage retention in the longer term, which makes sense as effective business development is synonymous with successful relationships.

The specialism where our market expansion activity is most successfully demonstrated is Professional Trades. Two years ago 98% of this specialism's revenue came from the energy sector, compared to 38% this year, the majority of which is generated from temporary contracts for stores and yard appointments. This is in contrast to the permanent appointment activity from our FMCG, construction, automobile and agriculture clients.

There remains a prevalent concern among health and safety professionals that teams have been cut too leanly, potentially compromising safety. The majority of roles managed by our QHSE team have been temporary, specialist appointments or maternity cover. With little personnel movement in other sectors and a stagnant oil and gas job market this has been the most impacted specialism in our business, an outcome we did not anticipate given the significance of the work carried out by professionals in this area. Similarly, Supply Chain roles tend to require "all-rounders", people capable of effectively managing every element of the discipline. Revenue in this area has been temp driven as companies have identified the need but have been unable to sign off a permanent headcount cost. Perhaps not surprisingly, internal sales roles are most frequently managed by the Supply Chain team as clients focus on maximising these critical relationships.

Our Office Personnel specialism continues to manage unprecedented levels of candidate enquiries with education, financial services and charity clients reaping the benefits of exceptional candidate availability.

Within finance, practice firms remain fastidious, only considering candidates with previous practice experience while in industry, the majority of recruitment activity is centred around junior roles and the upper mid-market level. For some project specific roles, or positions targeting a specific business need, we've noticed a willingness from candidates to accept a lower base salary when incentivised by a bonus payment of around 15% for attainment of agreed aims or successful project completion.

Our Legal & Commercial specialism reports that work from local practice firms is fairly static with any activity within private client, litigation and employment law offset by lower property and corporate demand. The Commercial Contracts market remains depressed with Aberdeen losing talent in this discipline to the Middle East and Asia.

There has been a rise in the number of candidates operating as freelance consultants, particularly in HR, contracts and marketing. For some, opportunities have arisen following redundancy to return to the same or similar job on a reduced hours contract, while others have taken the bold step of seeking out work against established creative agencies.

The outlook for recruitment during the rest of the year is "more of the same" as we acknowledge that there will be further consolidation activity in the energy sector and the supply chain will remain under pressure.

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