In anticipation of stronger business conditions, more than one-half (52%) of digital and direct marketing executives plan to increase hiring in the first quarter of 2011, up from the 41% who said so in the previous quarter, according to a survey from Bernhart Associates.
Agencies are leading the way: 63% of those surveyed say they plan to add staff during the first quarter, whereas none are planing cutbacks.
Overall, the direct and digital jobs outlook is more positive:
Only 16% of surveyed marketing execs say they now have a hiring freeze, down from the 35% who said so in 4Q10.
4% of companies are planning layoffs in the first quarter, down from 8% in 4Q10.
B2B hiring plans are outpacing B2C, and also reporting fewer expected layoffs and hiring freezes, according to the report.
Meanwhile, client-side marketing hiring budgets are still "being pinched" and lag behind agencies and service providers.
Even so, roughly one-half of marketing execs say they'll have positions to fill in the first quarter. Those openings will likely be across all job categories and at all levels: "Usually we see a couple of job categories stand out, but this time it's very broad-based with marketing, analytics, and sales topping the list, along with a strong showing among IT-related positions," said Jerry Bernhart, principal of Bernhart Associates Executive Search, LLC.
Overall, digital and direct marketers are revising their projections upward for 2011 as margins improve and demand strengthens, creating the need for more headcount, Bernhart notes.
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Account Services, PR, and Social Media in Demand
Asked in which areas they plan to add marketing staff, account services ranked first (16%) among surveyed marketing execs, followed by public relations (15%) and social media (15%).
"As we move into the new year, many companies and agencies are eager to pursue new business opportunities and expand their service offerings," said Donna Farrugia, executive director of The Creative Group.
"Employers seek experienced professionals to help manage new accounts as well as build relationships with customers using social media and other marketing tools."
Overall, marketing execs are projecting an uptick in hiring in the first quarter: 12% plan to increase staff levels, while 8% anticipate declines. The resulting net 4% increase is a percentage point higher than the 3% recorded in the previous quarter.
About the data: Findings are from the first-quarter 2011 employment survey by Bernhart Associates Executive Search, LLC among 399 marketing and advertising professionals, including senior executives and hiring managers, human resource officials, and other key participants in online and offline direct marketing, conducted Jan 5-12, 2011.
The Creative Group Hiring Index for Marketing and Advertising Professionals was conducted by an independent research firm and is based on more than 500 telephone interviews—roughly 375 with marketing executives randomly selected from companies with 100+ employees and 125 with ad executives randomly selected from agencies with 20+ employees within the US—in November 2010.