SOUTHAMPTON’S job market has been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak, with advertised vacancies dropping by more than 16 per cent last month.

The figures come from the online jobs board CV-Library, also found job applications fell 2.7 per cent in March.

It expects unemployment to “soar” in April.

Southampton vacancies posted on its site fell 16.4 per cent month on month – the eighth largest drop in the UK – and by 17.3 per cent on the same month in 2019. Applications were down 5.2 per cent year on year.

Advertised salaries also fell month on month, by 3.2 per cent.

Lee Biggins, chief executive and founder of Lee Biggins, said: “It’s not surprising that the outbreak of Covid-19 has prevented businesses in Southampton from moving forward with their hiring plans. With global supply chains disrupted and many organisations forced to close their doors in order to respect social distancing rules, companies have had to change the way they operate and adapt to this new normal.

“Sadly, this has involved placing existing employees on furlough and even making redundancies and many professionals are feeling the effects.

“The national unemployment rate is set to soar in April and there’s no doubt that this will be a really tricky time for job seekers across the city. However, it’s important to use this time to prepare for your job search. Make sure you keep your CV up to date and keep an eye out for opportunities on a regular basis. This isn’t forever and businesses will regain their confidence eventually.”

Despite the grim news, vacancies rose in year on year in key sectors including the public sector (up 103.7 per cent), agriculture (98.7 per cent), social care (17.9 per cent), education (2.9 per cent) and distribution (2.1 per cent).

Mr Biggins said: “The fact that some industries are still seeing job growth is great news for candidates in Southampton. That said, many job seekers may still find it tough to find the right role for them and there may be increased competition for these jobs. In the current climate, it’s vital to think outside of the box when it comes to looking for a new role.

“If the industry you normally work in is struggling, be sure to identify your transferable skills and look to find a role in a different sector that is still performing well. However, in order to be successful, it’s vital that you adapt your CV and cover letter to make sure it’s relevant for the industry and role you’re applying for.”