Recruiting bouncing back in communications industry

Mihai-Alexandru Cristea 28/12/2021 | 16:10

A new LinkedIn study shared exclusively with The Drum suggests that despite the pandemic and its economic consequences, opportunities in the marketing sector are only expanding, with roles in digital and media leading. While the economic impact of covid-19 has decimated businesses of all types over the last year and a half, the marketing industry has made an impressive comeback.

By Romanita Oprea


Some 381,000 marketing job openings were posted on LinkedIn in the last year. In the past six months alone, the site saw a 63 percent increase in marketing jobs. Within the last six months, jobs in the arts (up 85.9 percent), retail (up 72.6 percent), education (up 63.7 percent), and corporate services (up 60.6 percent) grew the most. This is likely indicative of the recovery of sectors that were initially most impacted by lockdown orders and restrictions on in-person gatherings.

“Demand for marketing jobs has grown over the last six months because of the increased importance of marketing during the pandemic,” says Connie Chen, LinkedIn senior insights analyst. “Digital marketing gives organisations the ability to accurately target audiences, measure impact, and get in front of consumers during a time where the average adult is online more than ever. As the majority of the country’s workforce was sent to work from home, customers’ desire for digital experiences skyrocketed. This, in turn, has provided marketers with more heightened visibility in their companies and stronger positions to provide strategic direction as new opportunities crop up.” One in every two top marketing jobs listed on LinkedIn fall into the digital or media space. By volume of job postings on LinkedIn, the most desired marketing job is a digital marketing specialist. LinkedIn data confirms that a shift toward more specialised digital skillsets is well under way. The study also found that the most in-demand skills for marketers today are social media marketing, paid search strategy, social media, and search engine marketing.

Year-over-year growth patterns evidence the highest growth in skills including Instagram (up 72 percent), content marketing (up 63 percent), creative problem solving (up 45 percent), brand awareness (up 41 percent), branding (up 41 percent), and Hootsuite (up 39 percent). Other fast-growing skills include Adobe Premiere Pro, marketing automation, customer experience, and Facebook marketing.

Since the onset of the pandemic, listings for remote marketing jobs have increased fivefold. Whereas just 2 percent of marketing roles were remote on March 1, 2020, today nearly one in ten are. In the past six months alone, LinkedIn has seen a 177 percent increase in the number of remote job postings for marketing roles. The study’s findings suggest that even as we emerge from the pandemic, remote work is not likely to subside. Marketing roles across the board are shifting to more remote and flexible working arrangements.

The past year saw 17,000 remote marketing job postings, highlighting the fundamental evolution of work, and this evolution stands to be a game-changer. The vastly widened hiring pool and lowered barriers to entry are good news for marketing and sales departments that want to increase the diversity of their talent.

Over 90,000 Romanians applied for a job in February through the BestJobs platform, with over 511,000 recorded requests. Most of them came from industries such as IT&C, telecom, sales, finance-accounting, engineering, management, and construction. What is interesting to notice is the fact that a significant growth in the available fields of work included marketing, with 102,600 applications. The situation comes after a globally confusing 2020, when some areas of the communication industry were hit very hard, while others grew. The global ad market plunged, with dire predictions that UK ad expenditure dropped 16 percent in 2020 and some companies making savage cuts. WPP, Omnicom, and Dentsu each lost 6,000 posts globally last year.


In search of performance

In spring 2020, the covid-19 outbreak took the entire labour market by storm. As a result, the number of advertised jobs around the world decreased by 50-70 percent. Talent acquisition leaders had to optimise their expenditures and switch from the traditional pay-per-post mode to pay-for-performance channels. Due to substantial budget cut-off, more companies switched to the lowest-risk marketing models.

According to Jooble data, job board markets have been recovering in most countries. For example, over the last 6 months, the share of paid jobs in G7 countries has risen by almost 15 percent. Among the leaders are the United States, Germany, and Italy with nearly 30 percent, 17 percent, and 15 percent respectively. Marketing is often one of the first teams within a company to take a hit when a financial crisis strikes, and the covid-19 pandemic was no different in that regard. But with the economy now almost entirely reopened, the sector has bounced back to growth, with recruiters reporting a substantial rise in the number of marketing opportunities available.

Even the most hard-hit areas of the marketing industry have experienced recovery, with Marketing Week reports showing that salaries in the industry are set to bounce back in 2021 as vacancies rise and many recruiters struggle with more roles than there are candidates to fill them. David Nobbs, Managing Partner and Head of Consumer at executive search firm Grace Blue, spoke to the publication about this latest trend in talent acquisition. According to the analysis, salaries have met, and often increased on, pre-pandemic levels, especially when it comes to more senior positions that are vacant. This is in addition to firms struggling to retain talent as the pandemic eases and the economy rebounds. Nobbs explains that it is “not uncommon” for recruiters to offer up to a 50 percent pay increase to help retain senior individuals in their current roles and help stem the current wave of resignations witnessed across multiple sectors.

There was a 302 percent rise in opportunities for marketers on the UK market in the six months to August 2021 compared to the same period last year, according to data gathered for Marketing Week by job site Reed. The market hit an all-time low in April last year, when there were just 2,125 jobs on offer. By June this year, however, the number of open roles had risen as high as 14,055, recording an increase of 561 percent. Marketing managers have been in particularly high demand, accounting for more than one in ten roles over the past six months. Roles paying between GBP 25,000 and 50,000 have been most in demand, accounting for 65 percent of available vacancies.

An investigation by Marketing Week has found that executive search firms and recruitment agencies covering the marketing sector have been experiencing the same trend, as employers have been looking to close skill gaps.

“The pandemic-driven recession may have stunted the evolution of some talent marketers because the labour market is again rich with candidates who are actively looking for jobs. Budgets may get pulled back to accommodate for the fact that there’s more people actively looking on the labour market than there have been in years. And when budgets contract, that most commonly translates to ‘stick with what you know.’ E-commerce and fulfilment are competitive markets, so the war for that talent will drive the adoption of more sophisticated approaches,” wrote.


Growth areas

According to, the pandemic has not only increased the importance of digital marketing for businesses; it has also fostered a surge in marketing and creative job opportunities across many industries. As companies are ramping up their digital marketing efforts, the job market for marketing and creative professionals is booming. Companies are looking to fill a wide range of marketing and digital roles across all levels. Some of the most in-demand marketing and creative roles in 2021 include copywriters, digital media managers, email marketing specialists, graphic designers, marketing analytics managers, search engine optimization (SEO) specialists, social media coordinators, and UX/UI designers.

Now that companies are increasingly valuing their creative teams, marketing and creative professionals are in a strong position to use their skills and experience as key differentiators when negotiating higher salaries, benefits or workplace preferences (such as flexible work schedules or remote work opportunities). Marketing and creative professionals should focus on building digital communication tools for customers across a broad spectrum of industries. For example, within financial services, companies are looking for creatives to develop new ways to connect with customers virtually and personalise user experiences on their digital platforms. Mobile apps are proving to be a highly effective channel for engaging with customers, and they are expected to generate over USD 935 billion in revenue by 2023.

Following the shutdown of most in-person banking practices during the pandemic, banking companies have been extremely focused on developing robust mobile experiences that are not only interactive and user-friendly, but also add value for their customers, enhancing their overall experience with their brands. As a result, banks and other finance companies are hiring high numbers of creatives to craft mobile and online platforms that elevate their digital connectivity with customers.

Clients are ready to sacrifice time to save more money. Furthermore, they agree to losing awareness among users to engage targeted audiences as much as possible. “Quality not quantity” has become an expected outcome of the pandemic. For example, some companies chose programmatic advertising platforms and focused on only sponsoring specific job categories or hard-to-fill roles. Some marketing professionals cut off many unreliable and ineffective traffic sources to optimise marketing budgets.

On the other hand, covid-19 has led to some crucial changes in the industry. For example, clients now prefer playing safe by choosing marketing campaigns on a pay-per-performance basis. Moreover, some countries, such as the United States, are experiencing a worrying tendency with an assumable labour shortage, as people are becoming less likely to accept what the job market is offering right now. Therefore, to reach the goal of providing clients with a good number of suitable applicants, job boards have to diversify their traffic sources and prioritise the concept of data-driven decisions.

There is also a very important trend in the rise of freelancers and remote work, especially in the communication industry. A recent Gartner poll showed that 48 percent of employees will likely work remotely at least part of the time after covid-19 versus 30 percent before the pandemic. According to Eurostat, Romania had over 1.2 million freelancers in 2020, mostly from the IT sector (36 percent) or marketing and creative industries (29 percent) – and numbers are growing.

As organisations shift to more remote work operations, they must explore the critical skills employees will need to collaborate digitally and be prepared to adjust employee experience strategies. They also need to consider whether and how to shift performance goal-setting and employee evaluations for a remote context. On a global market of independent platforms for freelancers estimated at over three billion dollars in 2020 (according to the Freelancers’ Association), the LANCERIA project, the first freelance marketplace in Romania developed on blockchain technology has officially been launched publicly, in an alpha version. Only five months since the start of this innovative project, comes to support the community of those who work on their own by eliminating or minimising fees and commissions and by introducing the option of hybrid payments – in RON or foreign currency (FIAT) as well as in cryptocurrencies.

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Mihai-Alexandru Cristea | 29/11/2022 | 10:17

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