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Recruitment Statistics - Annual Summary 2023

Job Flow Index

Every month the Firefish Job Flow Index analyses recruitment statistics and industry trends to provide recruitment agency leaders with insight into market conditions. This annual summary collates the data from the last 12 months to provide a clear insight into the year as a whole. 

The Firefish Job Flow Index allows you to explore recruitment statistics drawn from over 750 recruitment agencies. 

Recruitment Overview 2023

Total placements made increased by 29% in 2023. This increase was led by the strong growth of contract and temp placements, which increased by 54%. Permanent placements, however, decreased by 17% YOY

Whilst the total number of placements increased significantly, the total number of jobs created increased only by 2% in 2023 vs 2022. This indicates that Firefish clients were more efficient at making placements in 2023, and the increased volume of applications from existing customers demonstrates that agencies are making more effective use of their database to more efficiently place candidates.

There was a decrease of 16% in the number of permanent jobs created in 2023, which aligns with the decrease in placements made. External economic pressures including political turmoil, international conflict, rising interest rates, increasing unemployment and talent shortages have demonstrably impacted the recruitment industry once again in 2023. In the UK there has been rising unemployment throughout 2023 which reached 4.2% in September vs the YOY comparison of 3.6%. This rapidly fluctuating economic pressure has forced recruitment agencies to prove once again that they can find opportunities in adversity. 

There was significant growth in the number of placements made in the construction sector in 2023 and a peak of permanent placements 224% above average in September. Temp and contract placements in the technology sector enjoyed 6 months of steady growth between May and October, increasing by 136% over this period.

Placements by sector

Permanent placements in the professional services sector increased steadily throughout 2023 with the average placements made per month increasing by 19% after the first quarter. 

Temp & contract placements in the professional services sector peaked in January, March & November

Professional Services

Finance & Accountancy

Permanent placements in the finance and accountancy sector remained steady in 2023 with a dip in December. 

Temporary and contract placements experienced significant peaks and troughs in this sector, fluctuating by as much as 40% or more MOM. 


Permanent placements in the technology sector saw a number of peaks and troughs in 2023, fluctuating by as much as 49% MOM

Temporary & contract placements in the technology sector increased steadily between April and October, increasing by 136% over this period. Placement rates declined into the winter months.

Total placements rose by 29% in 2023 vs 2022. This rise was led by a 54% increase in Contract and Temp placements YOY, while Permanent placements decreased by 17% YOY. 

Performance overview


Explore monthly recruitment statistics including agency placement trends throughout 2023. 


Permanent placements in the construction sector climbed steadily for 6 months in 2023. There was a significant peak in September with placements 224% above average, before an expected seasonal decline into December.

Temporary & contract placements have been buoyant in the construction sector in 2023, peaking in August and growing steadily for 6 months from March.

Engineering, Manufacturing, Logistics & FMCG

Permanent placements in engineering, manufacturing, logistics & FMCG experienced a series of spikes above a steady baseline in 2023. January, June & September were strong months for permanent placements in this sector. 

Temporary & contract placements in this sector decreased in the first quarter of 2023 before stabilising and remaining very steady from June onwards. Placements dipped dramatically in December.

Sales & Digital Marketing

Permanent placements in the sales & digital marketing sector peaked in March and April. Placements remained steady from May to October, before dipping towards the end of the year. 

Temporary and contract placements in sales & digital marketing decreased steadily in the final 7 months of the year, declining by 66% from June to December.

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Recruitment Agencies.

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- James C, Optima Site Solutions

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Jobs created and number of placements

In 2023 61% of jobs created were placed. There was a 2% increase in the number of jobs created in 2023 vs 2022.

There was a 16% decrease in the number of permanent jobs created in 2023 vs 2022. In 2023 25% of permanent jobs created were placed. 

There was a 43% increase in the number of temp & contract jobs created in 2023 vs 2022. 

Explore monthly recruitment statistics including agency placement trends. Compare jobs created to placements made and explore performance by sector. 

Job Demand


Temp & Contract

Recruitment Marketing Statistics

Explore the monthly recruitment agency marketing trends throughout 2023.

Application Source

The source of applications for your agency's job is a good indicator of the strength of your agency's brand presence and candidate loyalty.

Over one-third (35%) of applications to Firefish clients' jobs came from candidates who already existed in their recruitment CRM in 2023. 

Increasing the volume of applications from candidates who are already in your system reduces the cost to serve and time to fill.

Job Adverts 

This chart shows the number of new job adverts posted each month across all sectors and platforms. Multiple adverts can be posted per job but this data indicates the volume of active adverts per month.

The Office for National Statistics reported a 23% decrease in the number of active job ads in 2023 vs 2022. For recruitment agencies using Firefish, the decrease tracked significantly lower than this level at -12% YOY.

The number of quality applications per job has been higher throughout 2023 vs 2022. This is in line with growing rates of unemployment, as companies are laying off staff and providing a stronger candidate supply. 

Throughout 2023 there was a steady rate of 5 quality applications per job vs an average of 4 in 2022. 

Quality Applications Per Job

Applications from re-engaged candidates

83% of applications from re-engaged candidates were generated by Job Alerts in 2023.

Candidate applications from web sources

66% of applications from web sources were generated by Job Boards in 2023.

By utilising the reports dashboards on Firefish, Bright Purple's leadership team were able to identify that over a third of applications were coming from applicants already in their database - helping them to prioritise database engagement.

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Spec CVs Sent

The sending of speculative CVs (when there is no formal role available) can indicate market confidence and business development activity. There was a 32% increase in the number of spec CVs sent in 2022 vs 2023.

Having peaked in January, the sending of spec CVs declined dramatically until April. From May onwards there was a steady use of spec CVs by recruitment agencies before another seasonal decline in December.

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Recruitment Agencies.

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