The average number of legal jobs posted every month in 2020 was 60% down on the previous year, while applications increased by 53% for each one, a recruitment website has reported.
Simply Law Jobs also found that two-thirds of job seekers said the pandemic had changed their priorities, partly by lowering salary expectations.
The recruiter said the average number of jobs posted fell last year to just over 5,300 a month, from over 13,000.
It recounted that 2020 “started like any other with a spike in traffic and applications”, followed by a “short recruitment freeze” when the first national lockdown was announced.
This led to a “drop in activity which subsequently recovered as the months continued”.
However, the recovery, beginning in April, left the number of jobs posted at a much lower level than the year before, with the monthly total rising to a peak of 6,000 in November – only around half of the 2019 figure.
Employers were “predominantly searching” for “solicitors, associates and lawyers”, while the jobs most applied for were “paralegals, solicitors and graduate vacancies”.
In a series of interviews with 138 legal job seekers last month, researchers said two-thirds told them their priorities had changed as a result of the pandemic.
The three most popular reasons for this were ‘searching for a better work/life balance’, lowering salary expectations and “the willingness to branch out into other sectors to secure employment”.
Four in ten job seekers said the most frustrating thing about the task was the lack of a reply from the recruiter after applying. A minority of 15% said there was no reply even after an interview.
Around a third (31%) found the most frustrating thing to be a “lengthy and complicated application process” and a further 12% the “lack of information in the job advert”.
However, 68% said they felt most job adverts provided the information they were looking for.
Where information was missing, it was most commonly about salary, career progression and working hours.