Slow Start To The Year?

It has in some ways been a slow start to year in the sense that recruitment processes appear to have slowed in pace in several sectors.  In many cases hiring managers are under such pressure with their day to day work that they find it difficult to make the time to focus on recruitment.  Others are facing delays in having roles signed off or are having to adapt to changing business needs.

That said there have already been a lot of moves in the middle tier of the permanent market (typically £40-£80k in the south east) this year and there is no shortage of demand in the most competitive areas of the market. e.g. indirect spend, see below for more details.

There is also clear evidence that many companies are planning hires for the new financial year and this could spark a flurry of activity in Q2.


Indirect Spend

As has been the case since the market began to recover, the competition for best indirect spend expertise remains strong in the corporate world.

Perhaps the best example of this is in Marketing where six blue chip companies within 30 miles of each other were looking for very similar experience at the same time earlier this year.  Some of the roles remain vacant.

The other areas of category expertise in greatest demand at present are:

IT –  Software more so than hardware and to a lesser extent telecoms.

Professional Services – There is still a relatively small pool of potential candidates in this area

HR – There are roles that are recruitment focused along with positions focusing on other areas like mobility, consultancy, compensation & benefits etc.

Travel & Meetings – Very much back on the agenda in the last twelve months with meetings appearing to grow in importance in the current climate. Supply Management recently commented on some research in this area published by the Economist Intelligence Unit and commissioned by American Express

Facilities Management – both soft and hard services.

Given the importance of indirect spend appointments to so many of our clients and the market in general, we have decided to formally measure how demand varies over time in the various indirect spend categories to provide some hard data to support our quarterly commentary.

Starting from January this year we are collating figures from across the private sector covering the number of roles in each of the key indirect spend categories.  We will then track this on a quarterly basis to create The Indirect Spend Recruitment Index.  We will publish our first data in mid April.


The Interim Market

Despite the more pragmatic approach to day rates that has existed for at least 12  months now, the interim market remains slow with many quality contractors seeking new assignments.

Again we expect the new financial year to give this market a boost as is often the case with new budgets. This could be particularly marked this year with several consultancies needing interim resource if the projects referred to above are finally approved and experienced consultants are required at particularly short notice.


Industry Sectors

We are currently working with clients in FMCG, banking, pharmaceuticals, consultancy, leisure and business services and in each case we are aware of demand for similar skills from our clients competitors. However sector trends remain difficult to define with inconsistencies across each area. A good example is that of the IT Services sector where headcount restrictions exist in a couple of major players whilst some competitors have several open vacancies in procurement,


Senior Management

There remains very little movement at the most senior level of the market.  As has been the case for the last two years big moves at CPO level are relatively rare, and leadership roles within smaller functions are still highly sought after by a large pool of highly qualified candidates.


Transformation Consultancy & Spend Management Providers

All of our consulting clients are busy with existing projects and bidding for new work, but headcount restrictions are common.  Several of the big multi disciplinary practices and niche procurement specialists have resources stretched to capacity, and with new projects imminent with the start of the new financial year, many are having to plan their recruitment pipelines for the second quarter.

There is growing demand for both senior managers offering business development capability and experienced consultants in specialist Spend Management organisations.  In terms of demand for staff this is demonstrating classic signs of a growing market.

If you wish to discuss any of the points raised in this article please contact Andrew Daley on 0161 300 7978 or via