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Friday, September 30, 2011

Marketers' Employment Outlook Weakens For Remainder of 2011

Owatonna, MN, September 26, 2011The sputtering US economy is impacting job prospects for digital and direct marketers, according to Bernhart Associates’ Quarterly Digital and Direct Marketing Employment Report for the fourth quarter of 2011.

“All three of our key employment indicators—new hiring, layoffs, and hiring freezes—have weakened slightly since our last survey in April,” said Jerry Bernhart, leading direct marketing recruiter and Principal of Bernhart Associates Executive Search, LLC, which conducts the quarterly employment survey. “Despite this, overall employment levels remain strong in digital and direct marketing, and, in fact, many employers actually are telling us that they face challenges filling critical openings because of a shortage of qualified candidates.”

The following are key findings from Bernhart Associates’ quarter-four (Q4) survey:

  • 40% of companies responding to the survey said they plan to add to staff in Q4, down from 45% six months ago and 52% at the beginning of the year.
  • 20% of respondents currently have a hiring freeze, up from 16% in the spring quarter.
  • The percentage of companies planning layoffs in Q4 rose to 8%, compared with 4% six months ago.
  • Marketers are reporting the most aggressive hiring plans, followed closely by service providers and then agencies. Bernhart added that not a single agency reported they’re expecting layoffs in the coming quarter, and business-to-consumer is slightly outpacing business-to-business in both new hiring and fewer hiring freezes for the remainder of 2011.

When asked what positions will be in greatest demand during the coming quarter, employers placed analytic-related jobs on top, followed by marketing, sales, creative, and IT.

“Overall, we’ve been seeing layoffs creep higher in recent months, and that is the most worrisome trend,” said Bernhart. “I’ve noticed that first-hand just from the jump in the number of resumes that have been coming into our office since the beginning of summer.”

Bernhart said that 61% of employers who responded indicated they were experiencing various degrees of difficulty attracting the right talent for their open positions. Among that group, when asked what was causing those challenges, they cited the following:

  • 50% attributed it to a shortage of qualified candidates.
  • 18% said candidates were looking for more compensation than was being offered.
  • 18% cited lack of specific job skills or technical skills.
  • 10% blamed relocation obstacles.

“Employers offered plenty of anecdotal observations in connection with this question, and several pointed out that as fewer people have been tasked with doing more, there is a growing need for people who offer multiple areas of expertise,” said Bernhart.

“On the surface, it seems paradoxical that positions are going empty with the US jobless rate as high as it is,” Bernhart observed. “But if there were a national unemployment figure for digital and direct marketers it would probably be half that for the overall economy. Most digital and direct marketers are working, and in this economy they’re just as leery about leaving their jobs as employers are selective about filling theirs.”

Bernhart Associates’ Q4 hiring survey was emailed on September 12 and 20 to more than 11,000 senior executives, hiring managers, human resource officials, and other key participants in online and offline direct marketing. A total of 398 organizations responded to the nationally followed employment-trends survey, which is now in its eleventh year.

According to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), in 2010, marketers—commercial and nonprofit—spent $153.3 billion on direct marketing, which accounted for 54.2% of all advertising expenditures in the United States. Measured against total U.S. sales, these ad expenditures generated approximately $1.8 trillion in incremental sales. In 2010, direct marketing accounted for 8.3% of total U.S. gross domestic product. Also, in 2010 there were 1.4 million direct marketing employees in the U.S. Their collective sales efforts directly supported 8.4 million other jobs, accounting for a total of 9.8 million U.S. jobs.

Results of past surveys can be found in the DMA’s annual Statistical Fact Book and on Bernhart Associates Executive Search, LLC’s website.

Companies interested in participating in the Bernhart Associates’ Quarterly Digital and Direct Marketing Employment Report should send an email to with “Opt-In” in the subject line, or they can sign up directly on the front page of the digital and direct marketing recruiting firm’s website.

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