HR staff should take advantage of the increasing array of talent that are looking for work, it has been suggested.

Vanessa Robinson, head of HR practice development at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, has claimed now is the time to start recruitment drives.

According to Ms Robinson, one of the plus points of a recession is there is more available working talent.

However, she pointed out that this does not mean workers are simply replaceable, but employees can choose who they think is more suited to a role.

By doing this, businesses can ensure they are "in a position to have the resources and staff that they think will contribute the best in these particular circumstances and going forward too".

For the three months to March 2009, the number of unemployed people increased by 244,000 quarter over quarter and 592,000 year on year to reach 2.22 million, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Meanwhile, the unemployment rate was 7.1 per cent for the three months to March 2009, up 0.8 over the previous quarter.

These represent the largest quarterly increases in the unemployment level and rate since 1981.