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Job hunting in uncertain times

Allen Associates, News & Blog

There are early signs that the jobs market may be changing across the UK, as well as in Oxfordshire. These are subtle changes but if you are actively looking for a new role, or even just thinking about it, it’s worth reflecting on how they might impact your search.

The last 18 months have been incredibly good for jobseekers, particularly those with sought-after skills, a proven track record or highly desirable personal attributes. Employers have fought hard to attract the best people and ‘first choice’ candidates have often had their pick of the roles.

Oxfordshire has particularly low levels of unemployment when compared with the rest of the UK and a high concentration of knowledge-intensive sectors which means that competition for skilled workers is high during boom times or periods of growth. The Covid pandemic resulted in a perfect storm for many organisations with the number of job vacancies reaching record highs in the first half of 2022.

Now we’re starting to see the first signs that a different picture may be emerging as the clouds of economic uncertainty continue to roll in. The latest Report on Jobs from our recruitment industry body the REC, produced in partnership with KPMG, shows that employers are becoming slightly more cautious with growth in both permanent and temporary job vacancies falling to its lowest level since March 2021.

It's definitely too early to feel concerned, particularly in Oxfordshire where demand for great people still outstrips supply. However, there are early signs that employers’ attitudes may be shifting and it would be sensible for jobseekers to pause for a moment and re-evaluate the way in which they are approaching recruitment.

Five questions to ask when job hunting in uncertain times

  1. Should I stay or should I go?

If you currently have a job, you’ll undoubtedly want to think carefully about any move you may be contemplating. Job security and stability count for so much – but career prospects, personal development, a great working environment, inspiring leaders, recognition, a sense of fulfilment, flexibility, salary and benefits all matter too.

There’s a lot to weigh up but it is only when you’re clear on your reasons why you want to move, that you can progress your job search with confidence and commitment.

  1. What do I really want from my next job?

Once you know why you want to leave your current employer, you’ll want to consider all the things that you would like to gain from your next role, personally as well as professionally. It may help to create a list and divide it into ‘must-haves’ and ‘nice to haves’ so you’re clear about where you can flex.

All too often, candidates will lose out on a great role with a really good employer because they are unwilling to be flexible. It’s surprisingly common for candidates to tell us they regret turning down a wonderful job opportunity because they tried to have it all, when in fact there were areas that, with hindsight, they would have been happy to compromise on.

Everyone’s red line will be different and you need to know where yours is.

  1. How can I increase my chances of landing my ideal role when businesses are showing signs of becoming more cautious?

Before you apply for a new job, it’s always worth reading through the job description and person specification very carefully as well as doing your own research to make sure the role and the employer are right for you.

It’s crucial that you evaluate each vacancy against your ‘why’ as well as your ‘wants and needs.’ If you still think it could be the right opportunity for you, then go for it, taking the time to tailor your application to suit the specific requirements of the role. We’re here to help and will happily guide you through the process and add as much insight about the employer and the role as we can.

As much as employers are eager to fill their vacancies and demand for good candidates remains high, they are becoming more cautious and you may need to work that little bit harder to make them feel confident that you are the right person for them.

  1. Should I consider hybrid working?

Most of the employers that we work with are keen to encourage their people back to the workplace, with many now insisting on some form of hybrid working. This usually involves staff spending two or three days a week in the office and the remaining days working from home.

Many people have embraced this, acknowledging the benefits of face-to-face collaborations and social interactions with peers. Lots has been written about the pros and cons of office and home-based working and as with all things, there will undoubtedly be elements of both in each scenario.

As fully remote roles continue to diminish, this is one area that you may have to compromise on. The high cost of travel, including fuel, is undoubtedly putting some candidates off from applying for roles that insist on hybrid working, but instead of allowing it to become a red line for you, it may be worth raising it as part of any discussions around salary and benefits. Employers may have some kind of scheme in place to help offset travel costs – or they may be willing to increase your salary to accommodate your particular circumstances.

The other thing worth considering is whether any travel expenses may in fact be cancelled out by the energy savings made by working in an office rather than at home. With costs going through the roof, it may actually save you money to work off-site. A recent survey by Instaprint which has been reported by People Management, reveals that 45% of respondents are likely to commute to the office this winter to reduce their household bills.

  1. How long will it take to secure my dream job?

Remember, job hunting takes time. Even in a candidate-driven market such as this one, you should allow two to three months – longer if you have a particularly lengthy notice period – to secure your ideal role. Our best advice is to do your homework, stay focussed on your goals, try to view any negotiations from the employers’ point of view as well as your own, be open to compromise, and be patient. There are lots of exciting roles out there!

How Allen Associates can help

If you’re not already registered with us, you may want to consider choosing us as your recruitment partner. We interview every candidate we register which gives us a chance to get to know the person behind the CV and what makes you tick. It also means that you can relax in the knowledge that you have a dedicated consultant working hard on your behalf to identify roles that will be a great match, not just for your skills, but in terms of working practices, culture and team fit too.

Find out more or contact us at

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