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Hays profit climbs as employers compete to fill vacancies

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By Amna Karimi and Eva Mathews

(Reuters) -Britain's Hays reported a jump in quarterly profit on Thursday, mirroring the rise in earnings reported by other recruitment firms as competition for talent among employers drove up wages and recruiting fees.

Hays, London's biggest publicly listed recruiter posted a 23% rise in fees for the April to June quarter.

PageGroup had said on Wednesday its profits climbed 26% for the period, while another recruiter Robert Walters, which specialises in accounting, legal, and tech jobs, earlier this month posted a 26% rise in fees.

Hays finance director Paul Venables told Reuters that "good candidates have got lots of choice" as employers hike salaries they offer and accelerate the hiring process.

"If starting salaries are increasing, then the fee we get is higher," he said.

PageGroup's boss Steve Ingham said after his firm's results announcement that companies had to hold interviews more swiftly and make faster hiring decisions to secure the best candidates.

Both said there was high demand to fill tech and accounting jobs.

But the jobs market, which has been sizzling with people switching careers and pent-up hiring after the pandemic, could see a leaner second half of the year as cash-strapped companies scale back on their expansion plans to combat soaring costs.

PageGroup forecast a softer full-year profit, amid concerns about an economic slowdown.

"That usually means that a lot of companies slow down their hiring plans, which will naturally impact us," Ingham said.

Brokerage Jefferies slashed its price target on Hays stock by 9.3% to 145 pence citing economic risks, including political uncertainty in Britain and legislative headwinds to labour market flexibility in some countries.

(Reporting by Amna Karimi and Eva Mathews in Bengaluru; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Edmund Blair)

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