Direct, Digital Hiring Freezes Climb to 45%

by: Marketing Charts

The number of digital and direct marketers who plan to add staff to their to payrolls in Q409 has risen to 30% from 20% in Q309, while the number reporting hiring freezes for the quarter has also risen, to 45% from 30%, according to the latest Quarterly Digital and Direct Marketing Employment Report from Bernhart Associates Executive Search, LLC.

The percentage of marketers planning layoffs was 8%, unchanged from Q3, writes MediaBuyerPlanner.

The report indicated that the job market for digital and direct marketers is thawing only slightly, but is moving in an encouraging, positive direction, said Jerry Bernhart, Principal of Bernhart Associates.

Bernhart attributed at least some of the jump in the anticipated Q4 hiring freeze index to seasonal variations. “We’ve seen this happen in our past fourth-quarter surveys when companies have held off on hiring decisions until after the holidays,” he said. “That may have been exacerbated this last quarter by the recession’s severity.”

Services Side to See Most Hiring

Most of the new hiring is expected to take place on the services side with 41% of participating service providers reporting that they plan to add to staff in Q409, the report said. Agencies were a close second at 39%. Client-side companies, at 18%, say they plan to make the fewest new hires.

B2B More Sanguine

The study also found that B2B marketers are more upbeat about Q4 job prospects, with more planned hires and fewer layoffs-than their B2C counterparts. Among B2B direct marketers, 33% say they will hire during this final quarter, compared with 24% on the B2C side.

Hiring Not Easy

Despite the continuing surplus of job seekers, nearly 60% of companies in the survey said it was either “very difficult” or “somewhat difficult” to fill certain positions. Bernhart said that this apparent inconsistency is a result of what he calls the “checkbox” syndrome. “Companies are looking for the perfect candidate, so what we’re seeing here is an apparent inability to recruit applicants who meet each and every one of the required criteria needed to trigger a hire,” he noted, adding that the hiring process has become excruciatingly rigorous.

Those who have jobs are also seeing mork work pile up in efforts to boost company performance during the downturn. “Employers who laid-off workers are squeezing more work out of those who remain,” Bernhart said. “This increased productivity is enabling companies to maintain or even boost output without having to add to headcount.”

Looking back on this year, Bernhart said the employment picture has brightened considerably since February 2009 when the numbers sank to record lows. “Economists are predicting that the overall US unemployment rate will continue to climb into 2010,” he noted. “However, our survey is showing that, for online and offline direct marketers, it’s possible we’ve bottomed out.”

Still, Bernhart added, given the severity of the economic downturn, any rebound in digital and direct marketing jobs likely will be subdued as we move into 2010.

According to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), in 2009, direct marketing advertising expenditures as a portion of total US advertising expenditures will grow to over 54%, and they will generate 8.3% of US GDP.

About the survey: The quarterly survey, which is now in its eighth year, was conducted among marketers from 359 US companies. Fieldwork was conducted from September 28-October 12, 2009. The survey was e-mailed to more than 8,500 senior executives, human resource officials, and other participants in online and offline direct marketing. The word “digital” has been added to the title of the survey to reflect the growth of digital media in the marketplace and the increased number of internet-based companies that have asked to participate.

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