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Q4 2012 Marketing Hiring Study Indicates Weakened Digital and Direct Marketing Jobs Outlook

Industries with the Greatest Marketing Hiring Activity

Beyond seeing activity for lower and mid-level job seekers, the opportunities seem to largely come from agencies. Bernhart said agency hiring has been running strong all year and is picking up steam heading into the final quarter. "Most of the calls we're getting are from agencies, " said Bernhart, who added that many agency openings are taking much longer to fill compared with a year ago.  Bernhart noted that the problem is especially acute for fast-growing digital agencies located in smaller markets.   

Marketing Positions in Greatest Need

The recruiter finds the positions in greatest need during the Q4 2012 are analytic-related jobs on top, followed by marketing, web designers, account management and sales. According to the company’s principal, "Some of the more specialized positions mentioned included tablet developer, a full-time blogger, and a mobile experience specialist. We're also seeing something of a bifurcated job market when it comes to experience.  Demand at the executive level is being far surpassed by openings for more junior level talent, and that gap has been widening in recent quarters."  

Study's Key Findings

The following are key findings from Bernhart Associates’ quarter-four (Q4) survey:

  • 46% of companies responding to the survey said they plan to add to staff in the current quarter, down from 50% in the Spring.  One year ago the index stood at 40%.
  • 21% of respondents currently have a hiring freeze, up from 13% during the spring quarter.
  • The percentage of companies planning layoffs in Q4 increased slightly to 5%, compared with 4% in the second quarter.
  • Agencies are leading the way in new hiring, with 52% reporting plans to add to staff before the end of the year.
  • After trailing BtoB for most of the year, BtoC marketers are now running even in all of the major indicators including hiring plans, expected layoffs and current hiring freezes.

"Most of the calls we're getting are from agencies, " said Bernhart, who added that many agency openings are taking much longer to fill compared with a year ago.  Bernhart noted that the problem is especially acute for fast-growing digital agencies located in smaller markets.   

When asked what positions will be in greatest need during the coming quarter, employers listed analytic-related jobs on top, followed by marketing, web designers, account management and sales.  

"Some of the more specialized positions mentioned included tablet developer, a full-time blogger, and a mobile experience specialist", Bernhart added.

"We're also seeing something of a bifurcated job market when it comes to experience.  Demand at the executive level is being far surpassed by openings for more junior level talent, and that gap has been widening in recent quarters."  

Bernhart shared these other empirical observations:

• "We're starting to hear the word 'desperate' from employers more often, particularly in the areas of web analytics and creative.  In some cases, that is resulting in offers to bump salary as much as 15-20%."

• "Counter-offers are on the rise.  No surprise given some of the shortages mentioned above."

• "While representing a small minority of job-seekers, we're fielding more calls from individuals who have decided to quit before finding something better.  This trend is a sign of growing confidence in the digital and direct marketing labor market."

• "Most executive recruiters are busy.  A good sign, because we're often the hiring solution of last resort."

• "Job openings are being posted on multiple social networks, underlining the importance of using social media in a job search.
Not surprisingly LinkedIn takes the lead, but don't forget Twitter."

• "I would estimate that the overall unemployment rate for digital and direct marketing, if we could calculate and track such a number, would be at least a couple of points below the jobless rate for the entire US economy.  We're in a good space."

Bernhart Associates’ Q4 hiring survey was emailed on September 13 and 19 to more than 15,000 senior executives, hiring managers, human resource officials, and other key participants in online and offline direct marketing. A total of 450 organizations responded to the nationally followed hiring-trends survey, which is now in its thirteenth year.

According to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), in 2012, marketers — commercial and nonprofit —will spend $168.5 billion on direct marketing, which accounts for 52.7 percent of all ad expenditures in the United States. Measured against total US sales, these advertising expenditures will generate approximately $2.05 trillion in incremental sales.  In 2012, direct marketing accounts for 8.7 percent of total US gross domestic product and produces1.3 million direct marketing employees in the US. Their collective sales efforts directly support 7.9 million other jobs, accounting for a total of 9.2 million US jobs.

Results of past surveys can be found on Bernhart Associates' website.