DM Job Picture Weakens For Most (Except Analysts): Bernhart

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Marketers with math skills are probably getting the soundest nights' sleep despite the current economic times: While most employment indicators have dropped, the direct marketing community continues to show an ever-widening demand for candidates with analytic skills, according to a new survey.

How desired are numbers-oriented folk? During the coming quarter, analysts are more highly sought after than even sales staff. Analytic-focused positions were first among job openings, followed in order by marketing; sales; creative and IT.

The top 10 was rounded out by: search-related positions; social media; e-mail marketing; customer service; and a tie for tenth place between Web development and account management.

Two of those functions – search and social media — had not previously appeared among the top 10. And Bernhart Associates principal Jerry Bernhart told Chief Marketer that there was a new category he hadn't seen before – social media analysts.

The picture for direct marketers as a whole is less rosy, according to the most recent Bernhart Associates Executive Search employment report. Only 40% of companies plan to add staff during the fourth quarter, down from 45% in April and just over half at the beginning of 2011. The number of companies anticipating layoffs doubled from four percent six months ago to eight percent.

There are pockets of strength within the marketing community. Marketers report the most optimistic hiring plans, followed by service providers and agencies. And consumer-focused firms are more likely to make new hires, and less likely to implement hiring freezes, than their business-to-business brethren.

That last point is a reversal from last quarter's findings, which itself was a change from the previous quarter. "B-to-B and consumer really have been flipping back and forth," says Bernhart, when discussing each sector's willingness to hire. "During the recession, layoffs in the consumer sector were greater than in B-to-B. Business-to-business maintained its strength as we were coming out of it. But consumer had a lot of catching up, because it was hit much harder during the downturn."

Those marketers who are hiring aren't necessarily having an easy time of it. Just over 60% say they are having trouble attracting talent to their open positions. Among all respondents, one quarter indicate there is a lack of qualified candidates, nine percent say candidates are looking for higher compensation than what is being offered, another nine percent cite lack of specific job or technical skills, and five percent mention relocation hurdles.

Respondents offered a variety of additional comments for why they are having trouble making hires, Bernhart says. These include "There appear to be good candidates, but the senior team is concerned about the risk of hiring wrong candidate."; "We are hiring temps because we cannot hire full-time employees due to expense initiatives."; and "We are hiring in India."

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