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The Market for Marketers: Hiring and Salary Trends

Diane Domeyer

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Employers across the U.S. are eager to hire professionals who can contribute to their customer experience and digital marketing initiatives.

I help connect companies with highly skilled creative candidates, which gives me a front-row seat to the enormous demand for creative talent.

With profound change happening in the marketing industry and current economic conditions, it’s important to be aware of hiring trends, whether you’re looking to assemble and retain a top team or advance your career.

The Creative Group 2019 Salary Guide has insight into the skills in greatest demand and the latest employment trends, including salary details for a range of marketing positions.

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The Current Hiring Environment: Shortage of Talent

Let’s start by taking a closer look at the job market from an employer’s perspective. Businesses face an unemployment rate that has been at or under 4% for the past year—it hovers around 2% for college-degreed workers who are 25 or older. Rates are even lower for most marketing roles. To meet a growing need for talent in an environment of shortages, agencies and creative departments know they need to use a variety of staffing strategies.

One solution has been to speed up the recruitment and hiring process. Employers are getting back to applicants sooner and making more prompt job offers so they don’t miss out on top talent. This is particularly important, as our research shows nearly seven out of 10 candidates lose interest in a company if they don’t hear back within two weeks of an interview.

Another strategy is to resist the temptation to hold out for the perfect marketer who can “do it all.” Such candidates are very rare and a long search will only cripple your progress. Rather than expecting candidates to have experience in—for example—branding, copywriting, search engine optimization, social media, marketing automation and customer analytics, many managers are hiring for fundamental marketing strategy and then providing on-the-job training to fill skill gaps.

Content agencies and marketing departments are also increasingly relying on freelancers or consultants for specialized expertise in areas such as web analytics and video production. In addition, many employers use project-based work as a way to evaluate talent before making a full-time job offer.

Knowing What You’re Worth and Paying Competitively

Whether you’re looking to negotiate your own compensation or hire and retain top talent, it’s always good to know what your industry’s skills are worth. Here’s a sample of some starting, national midpoint salaries in marketing:

The In-Demand Skill Set

It’s no secret that much of today’s marketing takes place on the internet, placing a premium on specialists who understand and can navigate the online world. Seventy-one percent of creative and marketing professionals surveyed by The Creative Group said it’s challenging to find candidates with up-to-date digital skills. The technical skills most lacking on their teams include:

  • Data science, data analysis and A/B testing
  • Web and user experience design
  • Content creation and content marketing
  • SEO, search engine and pay-per-click marketing

Companies seek professionals with expertise in these areas, as well as experience contributing to an organization’s overall strategy and effectiveness in attracting, converting and retaining customers. Whether you’re an employer assessing a candidate or a job seeker writing a résumé, emphasis should be placed on digital savvy and the impact it has on business. Hiring managers want to see a connection between an individual’s day-to-day duties, the firm’s bottom line, and a desire to keep up with the latest marketing trends and best practices.

Employers today also recognize that in-demand digital proficiency isn’t enough. Soft skills—including written and verbal communication expertise, ease when collaborating with others, client relations experience and a positive attitude—are just as valuable. In another survey by The Creative Group, 23% of advertising and marketing executives said they weigh soft skills more heavily than hard skills when evaluating candidates for creative roles; 58% equally consider both. These include strengths such as dependability, empathy, innovative thinking and problem-solving prowess.

The Full Package: The Importance of Perks

Money is important, but you may be able to sweeten a compensation package in ways that will allow for better work-life balance.

Job seekers in today’s market will negotiate flexible schedules, remote work options, wellness packages, meal allowances and sign-on bonuses just as they would their annual salary. In this hot job market, employers are realizing that they need to compete in terms of both salary and benefits. Go ahead and discuss terms: All parties are in a stronger position to get what they want before—rather than after—finalizing a job offer.

As the marketing industry continues to evolve rapidly and the war for talent rages on, businesses will be challenged for the foreseeable future by shortages of skilled workers. That being said, it’s an exciting opportunity for both employers and employees to change with the times and do meaningful work.

Diane Domeyer is the executive director at The Creative Group, a creative staffing firm. Diane has spent over 24 years at Robert Half, the most recent with The Creative Group, helping to connect interactive, design, marketing and public relations professionals to the companies that want to hire them.