Scotland's labour market improved at a "solid rate" in January, a monthly survey has suggested.
The Bank of Scotland jobs report noted an increase in candidate appointments and higher average salaries during the latest survey period.
It said anecdotal evidence attributed the improvement to greater demand for new staff.
The report's labour market barometer registered its highest reading since last April.
The survey found the number of permanent appointments increased for the fourth successive month, with the rate of growth rising to the fastest in nine months and outpacing the rest of the UK.
Demand for permanent staff increased at a marked rate in January, posting its highest reading in eight months.
Aberdeen saw the fastest rates of candidate appointment growth for both the permanent and temporary labour markets.
Recruitment agencies in the city also registered the strongest increase in permanent salaries.
Donald MacRae, chief economist at Bank of Scotland, commented: "The Scottish labour market saw a welcome improvement for the third consecutive month.
"However, further improvement is needed before we can be sure that job growth in the private sector will offset future public sector job cuts."
The jobs report, which is compiled by Markit, is based on a monthly survey of more than 100 recruitment and employment consultants.