The hiring in 2012 may all be in the second half

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Waiting for spring to return to hiring

Waiting for spring to return to hiring

People are starting to wish that 2012 will turn out to be like 2010.

To recap: 2010 started slowly and got better. 2011 started better and got worse.

2012 seems to be starting badly. The hope is, therefore, that we are re-experiencing the conditions of two years’ ago and that all the hiring whjich isn’t happening now, will suddenly happen from May or June onwards.

This was a sentiment voiced in our ‘roundtable for heads of recruitment’ this week. It is also a sentiment voiced in the latest research document from search firm Sheffield Haworth.

“The market is like an elastic band,” said one head of recruitment to broad nods of agreement from the rest. “All it takes is a bit of activity and hiring will ping back again.”

“It may well prove to be a year of two halves,” writes Sheffield Haworth, “with relatively subdued recruiting activity for the first 4-5 months of the year, but then paradoxically becoming increasingly busy as the year progresses and firms suffer from a lack of capacity relative to business inflow.”

Hopefully, this sentiment will turn out to be correct: something certainly needs to happen.

Figures out today from McKinley suggest Londonfinancial services job vacancies were down 47% year-on-year in February. Roundtable attendees agreed that banks' hiring plans, such as they are, involve replacements only.

There may however, be problems with the 2010 redux theory. In the first place, there’s no sign of any great improvement yet – RBC’s first quarter results, out today, suggest trading businesses are still struggling. In the second place, hiring in 2010 was held back until by the UK bonus tax, which applied only until April 5th and encouraged banks to defer recruiting until after that date. This year, the bonus tax doesn’t apply; it seems banks are not deferring their recruitment, they’re simply not recruiting much at all.