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100 days wait to fill essential posts, as employers jostle for talent

UK companies are now able to fill a job vacancy in 37 days on average, the fastest in seven years

Nurse, Automotive Technician, and IT Sales are the hardest jobs to fill in the UK, with vacancies lying open for over 100 days on average, according to smarter job search engine.

Based on an analysis* of over 80 million UK job ads advertised between April 2016 and January 2023, the average number of days a job ad stays open for was tracked, revealing the easiest and hardest-to-fill roles, and the sectors facing the biggest recruitment challenges. 

Hardest and easiest roles to fill
With talent shortages and a skills mismatch persisting across the automotive, healthcare and sales sectors in 2023, vacancies for three jobs roles are lying open for over 3 months, on average: Automotive Technician (109 days), Registered Nurse (101 days), and IT Sales Consultant (100 days). When a job vacancy is advertised for a longer period, it suggests a tighter job market or an overly lengthy hiring process. According to ONS, more than one in 10 advertised job vacancies in December 2022 were in healthcare, more than in any other sector. Amid such acute nursing shortages, it was revealed that the NHS turned to overseas nurses for help.

As more employers are mandating employees to return to the office this year, the data also shows an intensifying scramble among parents looking for competent caretakers. It requires almost three months on average to fill the roles of Live-in Nanny (89 days) and Babysitters (86 days), making these the 4th and 5th hardest jobs to fill in the UK

Meanwhile, high impact positions that demand very specific skills and experience, such as Sitecore Developer (80 days), Mortgage Protection Advisor (80 days) and Hydrologist (78 days) are also taking a long time to fill. 

Some roles remain unaffected by the skills crisis most businesses are facing. The quickest-to-fill job in January 2023 was Amusement and Recreation Attendant, with job ads tending to remain open for merely 19 days. Many of the easiest-to-fill roles are within the legal sector – which has become hugely oversaturated by fresh graduates in recent years. It takes around three weeks (23 days) to fill the roles of Employment Solicitor, Patent Secretary, and Funds Lawyer. 

Top 10 hardest roles to fill, January 2023

Rank Job title Average number of days required to fill the position
1 Automotive Technician 108.7
2 Registered Nurse 100.6
3 IT Sales Consultant 99.8
4 Live-in Nanny 89.3
5 Babysitter 86.0
6 Sitecore Developer 84.6
7 ERP Consultant 84.1
8 Mortgage Protection Adviser 79.7
9 Driver Trainer 79.6
10 Hydrologist 78.4

Top 10 easiest roles to fill, January 2023

Rank Job title Average number of days required to fill the position
1 Amusement and Recreation Attendant 19.1
2 Employment Solicitor 22.5
3 Patent Secretary 22.6
4 Funds Lawyer 22.6
5 Securities Underwriter 22.6
6 Premises Manager 22.7
7 Personal Injury Fee Earner 22.8
8 Fitness Coach 22.8
9 Activities Organiser 22.8
10 Content Editor 24.7

Now is the best time to get hired

Over the last year, the UK’s hiring landscape has shifted in favour of employers finding staff. Job postings stayed listed for an average of 37 days in January 2023, compared to 44 days a year prior. Comparably, during the first national lockdown of the pandemic, the average time required to fill a role was nearly two months (55 days). What’s more, 2023 also marks the best time in seven years for employers to fill their roles.

Graph 1: The average number of days to fill a role, 2016-2023

*Full data is available upon request

Graduate, Creative & Design, and Travel – the longest-lingering job ads
Employers are spending six weeks on average looking for the right candidate for Graduate roles, making this the sector where jobs are lying open longest. This may be driven by companies’ commitment to finding the best talent to nurture, prolonged interview processes due to the lack of working experience, or high volumes of entry-level CVs to sift through for each role. Job postings in the Creative & Design, Travel, Sales, and IT sectors are also remaining standing for longer, with job ads staying open for 40 days on average.

Average time to fill by sector, January 2023

Rank Sector Average number of days required to fill the position
1 Graduate  41
2 Creative & Design  40.6
3 Travel  40.3
4 Sales  40.1
5 IT  39.5
6 Retail  39.4
7 Consultancy  39.1
8 Scientific & QA  38.2
9 Domestic help & Cleaning  37.9
10 Engineering  37.7
11 Energy, Oil & Gas  37.6
12 Hospitality & Catering  37.4
13 Maintenance  37.1
14 PR, Advertising & Marketing  37.1
15 Manufacturing  37
16 Property  36.8
17 Logistics & Warehouse  36.7
18 Customer Services  36.5
19 Healthcare & Nursing  36.2
20 HR & Recruitment  35.1
21 Social work  34
22 Trade & Construction  34
23 Legal  33.8
24 Admin  33.2
25 Teaching  32.3
26 Voluntary  29.9

Andrew Hunter, cofounder of job search engine Adzuna, comments: The jobs market may have swung back in employers’ favour, but many businesses are still struggling to fill talent gaps. Driven by skills shortages and ongoing workers’ strikes, the hardest-filling roles demand specialist skills and lie within the automotive, healthcare and sales sectors. Job postings for Automotive Technician, Registered Nurse, and IT Sales Consultant lasted an average of 100 days in January 2023. Employers in these sectors should aim to speed up their recruitment processes to snag workers ahead of the competition. That means thinking carefully about how many interview rounds are really necessary, or rolling rounds together to condense the process. Quick and clear communication is key. The positive side is, there are clear signs showing 2023 is the best time for employers to post a job ad and for jobseekers to land a role, with  job postings generally open for a little over a month, and open roles filling at the quickest rate in seven years.”


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