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IT has not been an easy trading environment by any means, but on balance Spinnaker’s year has turned out better than expected. 

The scene for the year was set by the most spectacular crash ever seen in shipping, with capesize freight rates falling from a high of over $200,000 per day to less than $3000.  As we approached Christmas last year, junior broking redundancies became commonplace and hiring and pay freezes looked set to become the norm for some months to come.

October to March was nevertheless characterized by a surprisingly stable market in technical and professional vacancies, albeit that broking, chartering and operations jobs were very thin on the ground.  The whole industry appeared to grind to a halt for a couple of months in March and April followed by a steady return to confidence from August onwards.

Those of us in HR and recruitment have always measured the recruitment process by ‘time-to-hire’, i.e. how long it takes to fill a vacancy.  Needless to say, time-to-hire is an excellent indicator of market confidence.  In many ways it is a better measure than vacancy levels, which is a bit crude to be honest.

Shorter average time-to-hire is therefore what we mean by a return to confidence.  Yes, vacancy levels are up, and happily those big search projects that have been dangling like so many carrots have now been given the go-ahead.  But the most pleasing thing of all is firmer decision making generally.  It’s that which moves the recruitment process along – time made in diaries to carry out interviews, second interviews and firm rejections or offers.  

Many recruiters (and jobseekers) will probably tell you that more frustrating than the rejections is the not-knowing.  In a recession, things get put on hold, processes get delayed, reorganisations take place.  In short, decisions often simply don’t get made.  When this changes, time-to-hire falls and that is what’s happening now. Of course, the next big question is… “Will it last?”

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