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Job hunting in uncertain times

Allen Associates, News & Blog

The jobs market has been gradually changing across the UK, as the number of vacancies falls back to pre-pandemic levels.

The impact on jobseekers may be subtle, particularly in Oxfordshire where conditions for candidates are generally favourable, but if you are actively looking for a new role, or even just thinking about it, it’s good to be aware of the bigger picture.

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 remains strong. Our anecdotal polls of HR professionals and employers in Oxfordshire reflects a mood of positivity, with the majority pushing ahead with their expansion plans, which is encouraging news for jobseekers.

However, this is tempered by rising costs and an uncertain economic climate, making employers more cautious about their recruitment decisions. This has a knock-on effect on the number of new jobs being posted in some sectors and for certain roles – and it can make some employers more discerning and less decisive about who and when they hire.

While there are early signs that employers’ attitudes may be shifting and it is sensible to be aware of the uncertain times we are living and working through, there is no need to feel concerned. Demand for approachable, skilled and experienced candidates looking for roles in Administration, HR, Marketing and Finance in Oxford and the wider county of Oxfordshire will always be sought-after.

Why not test whether your current approach to job hunting is as good as it could be, by exploring the five questions set out below.

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 could have compromised 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 being 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 cautious and you may need to work that little bit harder to make them feel confident that you are the right person for them. After all, they want to make the right decision just as much as you do.

  1. Are most employers still offering flexible working?

Most of the employers that we work with in Oxfordshire offer some form of flexibility with hybrid working being the most popular model. The requirements vary depending on the employer and the role, but it’s common to be expected to spend two or three days a week in the office and the remaining days working from home.

The majority of our candidates are happy to embrace a combination of office and home-based working, acknowledging the benefits of both.

As fully remote roles continue to diminish, this is one area that you may have to compromise on. The hassle and high cost of travel may be unattractive, 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. They may also be willing to be flexible around your hours of work, allowing you to arrive later or leave earlier, to beat the worst of the traffic.

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. It may actually save you money to work off-site, particularly over the colder months.

  1. How long will it take to find a new job in Oxfordshire?

Remember, job hunting takes time. You  should allow around three months to secure your ideal role but it really does vary, depending on a wide range of factors including your availability and success at interview. 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. You may just have to dig a bit deeper to find them!

How Allen Associates will support you

If you’re not already registered with us, you may want to consider choosing Allen Associates as your recruitment partner. There are lots of great reasons to work with us. Here are just a few:

  • We’ve been recruiting in Oxford and across Oxfordshire for 25 years so we’ve got a proven track record, lots of great contacts and we really know our stuff!
  • We interview every candidate we register which means we get to know you and get a proper handle on what you’re looking for in a new role.
  • Our consultants collaborate with you individually and as a close-knit team, which means you can relax in the knowledge that not only will you have a dedicated recruiter working hard on your behalf, but the rest of the team will be hunting for jobs for you too. And not just any jobs, but the ones that will be a great match, not just for your skills, but in terms of working practices, culture and team fit too.
  • We like to think that we’re a professional and yet fun and approachable bunch. Why not find out more about our team and get in touch.

View our latest temporary and permanent jobs in Oxford and Oxfordshire, upload your CV and contact us at

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