May Job Market Review’s monthly Job Market Review gives recruiters and businesses fresh insights into what happened in the jobs market in the last month – including candidate insights and regional and sector performance.


May 2021 Snapshot


  • Over 275,000 vacancies posted on – the highest monthly figure since February 2008, before the financial crash
  • All sectors and regions saw a month-on-month increase in vacancies
  • Transport & Logistics roles soared, up 206% month-on-month
  • East Midlands saw the greatest month-on-month increase in vacancies, up 161%
  • Nearly 2 million job applications made on in May
  • Big year-on-year increases in applications across Legal, Administration and Sales


Record high vacancy numbers on in May, up 22% month-on-month

More than 275,000 jobs were posted on in May 2021, over 50,000 more than in April 2021. What’s more, May saw the highest number of jobs posted in a month since February 2008; marking a significant and positive shift for the jobs market as the economy opens up further.

And it’s not just vacancies that are up: May’s Labour Market Overview from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reports the number of payroll employees increased for the fifth consecutive month in May. This indicates that job offers are being made and accepted, and more workers are returning to work after a period of furlough.


Number of Transport & Logistics roles tripled from April to May 2021

The amount of vacancies posted on for Transport & Logistics roles are undergoing a resurgence after a difficult 2020. May’s figures exceeded 48,000 vacancies – a 206% increase compared to April 2021’s figure of 16,000, which was a 28% increase on February.

All other sectors saw healthy month-on-month growth in vacancies too, with Sales (+20%), Administration (+18%), Health & Social Care (+13%), IT (+8%) and Financial Services (+7%) being the biggest monthly movers in May after Transport & Logistics. This all points to a bounce back in confidence among employers that now is the right time to recruit for what’s widely anticipated to be a summer much more active than the one in 2020.


Rise in hiring demand across all regions

As witnessed among sectors, every region of the UK welcomed an increase in monthly jobs posted on in May; further cementing the reality of the country ‘unlocking’ in line with lockdown restrictions easing. East Midlands saw the greatest month-on-month increase in vacancies, up 161% on April 2021 with nearly 35,000 jobs posted in May.

South East England saw 64,000 roles advertised in May and the second highest month-on-month increase in job numbers (+19%), closely followed by London (18%) with 52,000 vacancies. Job postings in London are up over 300% year-on-year – indicating just how badly the capital’s labour market was hit by the pandemic, but also how energetically it’s bounced back.


Increased candidate demand for office-based roles – but subdued candidate activity month-on-month

The top three sectors for annual increases in applications were Legal (+49%), Administration (+37%) and Sales (+37%), pointing to the differences in appetite for applying for traditionally office-based roles compared to a year ago.

When looking at changes month-on-month however, growth is much less prominent. Applications within Hospitality & Catering were up 7% in May, Admin up 3% and Education just 2%. This indicates a disparity between job volume growth and application growth, which is an interesting trend to watch in the coming weeks and months.


What we expect to see in June – and how businesses can best respond

We expect to see vacancies remain high and for businesses to consequently need to work hard to attract candidates. The record number of vacancies we’ve seen during May, combined with subdued candidate activity in sectors such as hospitality, means that the market has swung from a buyer’s to a seller’s market. In many sectors, this might mean the power will shift from recruiters to candidates and in turn lead – as many are suggesting – to increased salaries and more opportunities for jobseekers to negotiate terms to suit them.

An example of a working condition that jobseekers will be looking for includes flexible working. We’re seeing this evidenced in activity on, with jobs advertised as work from home on receiving nearly double (91%) the amount of applications as those without*.

In addition to flexibility, businesses would do well to consider candidate expectations during the application and interview process and conduct their processes accordingly. This includes giving applicants quick responses and detailed feedback about their application or interview, plus including transparent details about salaries and employee benefits in job postings.



*Data analysed from between 1st January 2021 – 31st May 2021