5 Trends in Direct Marketing Job-Hunting and Hiring

I believe that because of enduring economic and social forces, we are in the very early stages of a golden era of employment for those who sell and market products and services over the Web, and the battle is on to lure the best talent available. What does this mean for job-seekers in the year to come? It means more and better offers, and abundant opportunities like we’ve never seen before. Here are my top five forecasts for 2014.

I believe that because of enduring economic and social forces, we are in the very early stages of a golden era of employment for those who sell and market products and services over the Web, and the battle is on to lure the best talent available.

What does this mean for job-seekers in the year to come? It means more and better offers, and abundant opportunities like we’ve never seen before.

Here are my top five forecasts for 2014:

5. More Multiple Offers
Back in the days of the Great Recession of 2008/2009, receiving just one job offer was something to brag about. How things have changed. Among actively looking candidates, those who are the most sought after now routinely get multiple offers. You know the ones I mean, the ones with proven track records who’ve moved the business forward everywhere they’ve been.

There’s a message here for employers: Snooze, and you’ll lose. When it comes to attracting and hiring top achievers in online marketing, time is your enemy. Drag your feet, and I can practically guarantee you’ll lose them. A bird in the hand beats two in the bush any day, particularly when it comes to the best and brightest digital marketers. If you have a bird in the hand, and it’s a bird you really want to hire, move quickly and make sure you make a highly competitive offer, which leads me to No. 4.

4. More Competitive Offers
I negotiated some amazing compensation packages this past year. In one situation, one of my clients extended an offer which included a 33 percent bump in salary, an increase that was almost unheard of just a few years ago. While this definitely represents the exception rather than the norm, there’s no question that top candidates in recent years have benefited from what I call “salary creep” as the war for marketing talent has heated up, and I look for more of the same in 2014.

In fact, I look for those incremental increases to creep even higher. This trend is inexorable. Many companies have come to realize that the differential value created by the most talented digital and direct marketers, the ones who can reconceive the business and inspire people, can be enormous. Better talent makes a huge difference. Power is shifting from companies to the individual, and that’s giving talented candidates more negotiating leverage than ever before.

3. Lengthy Hiring Process
One of the biggest frustrations I hear from candidates is how they get strung along for weeks or months before companies finally make a hiring decision. One candidate I recently worked with, interviewing for a manager level position, met with 11 different department heads during a one-day visit, and that was on top of a separate meeting with an industrial psychologist. These marathon interview sessions used to be commonplace only for top retained searches at the C-level. While this example is extreme, I can tell you from my own experience that the average duration of the interviewing process in digital and direct marketing has easily doubled over the past ten years.

The reluctance to pull the trigger and make candidates jump through so many hoops is understandable. Hiring managers face a wall of worry, including fears that the fragile economic recovery will sputter and hurt their business. Plus, there’s the fear of hiring the wrong person, a fear that has become much more pervasive since the Great Recession. Studies have shown that a bad hiring decision can cost a company up to five times the annual salary of the person hired, and that carries with it some potentially hefty implications for the manager who did the hiring. The decision to hire is the biggest decision a business leader makes. Unless the need is urgent and the company is losing big money while a desk remains vacant, expect hiring delays to continue to be the norm in 2014.

2. More Counter-offers
I am not a fan of counter-offers, but like them or not they’re a fixture of the recruitment landscape and they’re driven by this inviolate law: As the supply of sought-after talent diminishes, the frequency of counter offers goes up. Talent shortages are already appearing in small to medium-sized markets, particularly in the red hot field of data analytics. Your need for an ace digital marketer is exceeded only by the pain another company will experience if they lose one, so it’s no wonder that counter-offers have been on the rise, and for better or worse, we’ll see more of them in 2014.

1. More Opportunities!
It may be hard to imagine for those of us who work in this space, but there are still tens of thousands of companies out there that have little more than a rudimentary Web presence. I regularly receive calls and emails from companies that are still very rooted in traditional marketing. Their online marketing strategy starts and stops with an e-commerce shopping cart and an occasional email blast. For many of those businesses, digital marketing is becoming their need of the hour. In 2014, traditional media will continue shrinking, digital media will continue growing, and career opportunities for digital marketers will only become brighter.

Jerry Bernhart is a veteran direct marketing recruiter and principal of Owatonna, Minn.-based Bernhart Associates Executive Search. Reach him at survey@bernhart.com.

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