Industry Insights / 20th Jan 2014

High Demand, Hidden Talent: The State of Creative Consultancy

As we are all aware from when the UK economy growth figures were issued in 2008, a downturn in the second quarter was indicated, thus outlining the start of the recession that has affected many businesses one way or another.

With the recession hitting the UK economy hard, it is understandable why there was a decline in recruitment, including the appointment of graduate level candidates. Looking at the creative talent 5 years on, graduate level candidates with a few years’ digital marketing agency experience are few and far between.  Is the Recession to blame for this? We believe the recession had a big part to play, however hidden talent is now appearing with more specific qualifications to the field of digital marketing than ever.

According to the Office for National Statistics, the number of people out of work fell by 5,000 to 2.5 million in the three months to April 2013. In addition the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) report outlined that the number of Britons securing permanent positions has risen by the fastest pace since April 2011, which indicates that the UKs labour market is starting to significantly recover. REC chief executive Kevin Green added: “More roles, such as sales and digital marketing, have been added to this growing list in the last couple of months and show no signs of disappearing.”

The high demand for digital marketing experts has definitely been an area of growth and development in the South. Clear trends have emerged for certain skill sets over the last 12 months within marketing agencies who have expanded their teams.

Digital Marketing Recruitment Trends

We have seen less focus on growing the internal PR capacity of a company; however these skills are still very much respected and often applied within a content marketing role. The focus has steered towards candidates with digital marketing abilities including SEO and PPC. There is also an increasing need for marketers with broad skills across the marketing mix and knowledge of the adobe packages in order to design quality material for social media and content strategies.

There is a shortage of senior marketing candidates who have a combination of classic marketing training, leadership experience and who are also equipped to cope with the pace of change within the social media and digital arena.

We have seen an increase in the recruitment of CRM, research and analytical roles in the past year, which is in part because many companies focus heavily on customer retention during an economic downturn. It remains more important than ever that marketers are able to demonstrate ROI and are able to justify every penny of their budget.

The table below outlines the areas in demand we have seen as creative recruitment specialists in 2012 and comparatively so far in 2013.

Rank of demand January – December 2012 January – July 2013
1 Social Media Content Marketing
2 Pay per Click and Search Engine Optimisation Social Media
3 Designers for Print Pay per Click and Search Engine Optimisation
4 Internal and External Communications PHP Developers

According to JobAdsWatchs’ Q1 Key Trends report, we have seen permanent job counts for skills such as java up by 1.6% since quarter four 2012 (and more long-term is up to 10,300 from 6892 five years ago.) In addition, contractors with .net experience are seeing 1.8% more contracts available. With the increasing demand for talented and personable web developers, the challenging search continues to find the right skill set, contract type and salary to meet the candidate and client expectations.The fast paced and evolving world of social media requires a dedicated team to monitor and build a two way conversation for a company and their target market. We have also noticed that the ability to deliver measurable metrics to prove social media success is vital in a new appointment.

Attracting Hidden Talent

The motivators for candidates when they are looking for a new role have become more evident. Salary is no longer the main driver although it is still considered very important. Candidates are prioritising job security and career progression as well as the whole package before submitting applications. Candidates are analysing the roles and companies more diligently and benefits being offered are playing a significant part in candidate retention and attraction.

The following are often assessed by candidates prior to accepting a position:-

  • Company pension scheme – the importance of the actual ‘value’ is under increasing scrutiny by strong candidates.
  • Lifestyle and flexibility – candidates are looking for organisations who offer flexible working patterns and remote working opportunities.
  • Account executive level considerations are often to do with whether they will have a voice in the company. Will their ideas be listened to and nurtured in order to contribute to the overall marketing strategy for a client.
  • Career progression and development within a company is essential for job satisfaction and retention.
  • Number of days holiday – candidates are often looking at 25 +
  • Gym membership and other appropriate lifestyle benefits are increasingly being valued by candidates.
  • Healthcare is still considered highly desirable by candidates.

It is clear to see that candidates know their worth and look for a benefits package to include additional training and development to enable them to build a successful career within the company.

In conclusion to our insight into high demand, hidden talent in the creative sector; we have seen that graduate talent with a few years’ agency experience are few and far between, with the recession being partly to blame for this. There has been an increase in candidates with specialist digital marketing qualifications and an ever growing demand for degree educated marketing professionals. It has been suggested that the UKs labour market is slowly recovering with evidence of more digital marketing roles than ever. In the world of creative consultancy, we have seen less focus on communication and print designer roles and an increase in SEO, PPC, copywriters, web developers and social media skills. The more recent focus on content marketing strategies has seen the demand for skilled copywriters increase dramatically. Proven copywriting skills need to be demonstrated with high quality copy and the ability to write engaging and creative content for B2B or B2C brands across a variety of industry sectors. Salaries have seen a 4.7% rise in the South during the first quarter of 2013 and although there has been a shift in demand for certain skill sets, one important aspect remains the same. Great people are the first and most important resource to agency success.

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