Recruitment News

22,500 HR Jobs Created In Last Year

  • The number of HR professionals employed in the UK has risen 20% since 2011
  • HR sector recovers from the 28% drop in employment between 2009 and 2011
  • Demand for change management drives a 45% rise in interim HR vacancies over the last year
  • Average rate for an interim HR change manager now £600 per day 

Over 22,500 human resources (HR) jobs have been created in the last year as businesses emerged from the worst of the economic downturn, according to analysis of ONS data carried out by Ortus the specialist HR recruiter[i].

The economic downturn had a significant impact on HR professionals with the number of those employed in managerial or directorial roles in the sector falling by nearly 44,000 (28%) between Q2 2009 and Q2 2011. The recovery in permanent HR employment is matched by a rise in demand for senior interim HR staff among businesses wanting to grow and implement change despite uncertainty surrounding the economy. The number of interim vacancies in the HR sector between January and September has risen 45% compared to the same period last year[ii].

Table 1: Comparison of HR Employment and GDP




Nicholas Croucher, Manager of the Ortus Interim Division, said: “While HR staff were fundamental to helping businesses restructure during the nadir of the recession in late 2008 and early 2009, the HR industry certainly wasn’t immune to headcount reductions taking place either. It’s hugely encouraging to now see a significant rise in HR employment, albeit this has predominantly been in the change management and organisational development space. 

“There has been particular demand for interim and contract HR professionals over the last year as some businesses take a cautious approach to growth amid the current economic uncertainty. We’ve seen a 45% increase in the number of interim vacancies this year and these can provide fantastic opportunities for some senior HR professionals looking for good work-life balance coupled with excellent remuneration.”

HR Interims and Contractors

In separate research, Ortus surveyed over 120 interim HR professionals on the state of the market and found that change management is the driving force behind the rise in demand for HR interims and contractors. 71% of respondents stated it was the most common reason for businesses hiring interims currently[iii].

Asked why they preferred working in interim rather than permanent positions, 34% responded that they found interim roles more challenging and interesting than permanent jobs while 32% feel they offer better work-life balance and flexibility. 10% prefer interim roles because they can earn more money compared to an equivalent permanent position.

On average, it takes senior HR interims 150 days to earn the equivalent gross salary they would receive in the same permanent role. Interim HR directors can earn their equivalent permanent salary the quickest, taking just 131 days.


Average Permanent Salary

Average Interim Day Rate

Days to Earn Permanent Salary

HR Business Partner




HR Director




HR Change Manager




Reward Manager/Consultant




Senior Recruiter




Source: Ortus

Nicholas Croucher said: “It’s important to note that interim roles don’t offer the same security as permanent positions and many don’t come with benefits packages. Regardless of earning potential, the key drivers for HR professionals of this calibre moving into an interim role centre on achieving better work-life balance and the excitement of new challenges. With uncertainty surrounding the economy at the moment, hiring senior HR staff on a short-term basis can also be highly beneficial for many businesses, providing highly skilled individuals and greater flexibility to adapt to market changes.”

[i] Analysis of Office of National Statistics Labour Force Survey 2001 – 2012

[ii] Analysis of interim HR vacancies recorded by Ortus

[iii] Survey of 123 senior HR interims and contractors

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