Digital and direct marketing hiring is expected to rebound in the first quarter of 2012, according to the Bernhart Associates' Quarterly Employment Report: More than one-half of surveyed employers plan to add marketing staff over the next three months, as layoffs continue to fall.

Among the three primary employment indicators tracked each quarter (new hiring, hiring freezes, and layoffs) all have strengthened since the previous survey (conducted in Sept 2011):

  • 52% of employers say they plan to add staff in the first quarter of 2012, up 12 percentage points from the 40% reported in the previous quarter. 
  • 19% of employers now have hiring freezes, down slightly from the 20% reported in September. 
  • 6% of employers say they are planning layoffs in the first quarter, down from the 8% reported in the previous quarter. 

Below, additional findings from Bernhart Associates' Quarterly Digital and Direct Marketing Employment Report for the first quarter of 2012.

B2C markets are leading the jobs recovery: 56% have plans to hire new staff in 1Q12, compared with 48% of B2B employers (up from 42% in the previous quarter).

Analytics-related candidates are expected to be in the greatest demand over the next three months, followed by marketing, sales, creative, and account services candidates.

In addition, social media-related jobs are appearing for the first time on the top 10 list of positions expected to be in the greatest demand.

Among the types of marketing professionals surveyed—in-house marketers, agencies, and suppliers—there were few differences found in hiring plans in for the quarter. 

"Employers are hiring cautiously, but on the jobs front we've recouped all of the weakness we experienced in 2011," said Jerry Bernhart, leading direct marketing recruiter and principal of Bernhart Associates Executive Search, LLC. "In fact, the new hire index is showing one the largest quarter-to-quarter improvements we've seen in the 12-year history of this survey."

About the data: Findings are from the first-quarter 2012 employment survey by Bernhart Associates Executive Search, LLC among 424 marketing and advertising professionals, including senior executives and hiring managers, human resource officials, and other key participants in online and offline direct marketing, polled in January 2012.

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