The number of job vacancies for professionals has fallen significantly in July.

The latest monthly employment monitor from recruitment firm Morgan McKinley shows a 12% drop in vacancies advertised last month compared to July 2016. The month-on-month decline was even more pronounced at 24%.

But according to Trayc Keevans, director of inward investment with Morgan McKinley Ireland, that should be viewed in the context of significant activity in the first half of the year.

"The first half of the year was the busiest period we'd seen since the economic downturn, so we did expect some level of seasonality," she said. "We came off the back of June, which was a peak month for hiring."

Another factor influencing the process is the return of the counter-offer - where existing employers attempt to fight off new job prospects with better pay and conditions.

Ms Keevans says that that has the effect of slowing things down, which is impacting the pipeline of jobs that's coming on stream.

"What that's actually doing in the market is elongating the hiring process, where companies are trying to retain staff and handle that counter offer," she said. "If they manage to succeed then the company hiring the person is having to go to either their second choice or go back onto the market again, so it's taking a longer period."

Though before employees become emboldened enough to enter a high-stakes game with their current boss, it should be noted that certain professions are starting with a stronger negotiating position than others.

The usual suspects are in high demand, according to Ms Keevans, and companies are particularly interested in getting the best STEM talent they can find.

"Tech is a big area right across the board and obviously in the financial services with Fin-Tech, a lot of the same skills we're seeing," he said. "There's also full employment in the whole space of engineering, sciences, professionals."

Morgan McKinley conducts similar jobs surveys for a number of markets and its latest update for London pointed to a "haemorrhaging" of talent from the city post-Brexit.

According to Ms Keevans, that decline across the Irish Sea is having an impact on the figures in this market too.

"Our monitor in the UK showed a 33% decline in professionals, year on year, that were actually looking for opportunities in the UK," she said. "We are seeing the converse of that, there's been a 5% increase of talent here and we're certaintly seeing that on the ground.

"I think the UK government's announcement in July to end the free movement of people in 2019 means that we've seen a surge of people that are either looking for permanent jobs and residency. It's not a case of if they'll leave the UK, it's a case of when, and we're seeing a benefit of that."

The Brexit effect is also being felt in the country's colleges, she says, with a 17% percent jump in the number of EU nationals applying to take up courses in Ireland. That is likely to have a knock-on effect on the number of professionals in the jobs market once they complete their studies in three to four years.

They'll be joined by many of those who have just received their Leaving Certificate results - though one of the challenges facing college applicants is in predicting the best approach to take to prepare for a jobs market that may be very different by the time they graduate.

But according to Ms Keevans, there are some things that are likely to be vital to all job seekers for the foreseeable future.

"Obviously technology is playing a part, it will cross every single sector and area, so regardless of the course they need to be mindful of their need to upskill and understand the dynamics of how it will impact on their area," she said. "I also think it's very skills-focused, so people should be looking at things like critical thinking, problem solving and really working and navigating through those.

"We're going through a very interesting time, automation is coming to the fore in many sectors and it's going to change the type of jobs we're going to be doing into the future, so keeping abreast of those trends and looking beyond the course that they're doing will ensure that when they do finish in three or four years' time, they're going to be more relevant.