The number of permanent job vacancies increased last month, fuelled by an upturn in computer-related work, but there was a fall in demand for temporary staff, according to research.
Information from 400 recruitment and employment consultancies showed that permanent staff placements increased for the third month in a row, although salaries on offer "stagnated".
The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) said employers had converted temporary workers into permanent employees as a result of the Agency Workers Regulations which came into force last year, giving new rights to agency staff.
The number of vacancies available to jobseekers rose at the fastest pace since last summer.
Tom Hadley, director of policy and professional services at REC, said: "We have seen a rise in permanent appointments every month in the first quarter of 2012 with vacancy growth now at an eight-month high.
"This is good news for jobseekers and a positive indication of increasing employer confidence. Recent tax changes announced in the Budget, the Youth Contract and reductions in red tape for businesses, that came into effect this month, should further boost employer confidence and accelerate hiring activity."
Ronnie McCombe of KPMG, which helped with the report, added: "It's encouraging to see permanent placements in positive territory for the third month in a row in 2012, albeit slightly down on last month's high.
"This provides further hope that the employment market will win through to a stronger recovery as the year progresses.
"Sectors such as IT and computing and engineering/construction continue to perform well. However, it is certainly still too early to call a jobs recovery.
"There are grounds for cautious optimism but recovery remains fragile and could all too easily be blown off course."