Cautious optimism gives recruitment sector a new boost

Marketing recruiters have seen an increase in activity in recent months as confidence and a sense of optimism slowly swells into marketing departments. However, companies are still showing caution when it comes to increasing staff numbers.

Looking up: 22% rise in new jobs
Looking up: 22% rise in new jobs

Marketing recruitment specialist EMR says it has seen a 22% uplift in the number of new positions in the three months to the end of September compared to the previous quarter.

It has also seen a near-doubling of employed marketing professionals looking to discuss their career in recent months, which it says is an indication that marketers are “starting to gain confidence in the job market”.

Recruitment company Robert Walters says there has been an increase in demand for senior marketers in recent months and has heard of many businesses planning to hire additional staff.

John Robinson, associate director of the marketing division at Robert Walters, says although recruitment levels do not match those of 18
months ago, there is cautious optimism and preparation for expected improvements in business.

“Businesses are conscious of the need to shore up resources for impending significant improvement,” he says, adding: “The business is not necessarily there but the optimism is and they do not want to let the competition steal a march.”

A spokesman for the Chartered Institute of Marketing adds there is a “feeling of optimism returning”, adding the number of jobs advertised on its website increased by about 60% in the first weeks of autumn compared with the summer months.

The increase comes as the latest IPA/BDO Bellwether report indicates that confidence among senior marketers is on the rise. Almost half (47%) of respondents report improved prospects for their Looking up: 22% rise in new jobs own business for the third quarter, the best since the end of 2006, while projections for their industry swung to positive for the first time since the second quarter of 2007.

Despite the optimism, both recruiters and Bellwether express a note of caution.

Paul Sykes, managing director of Michael Page Marketing, predicts there will be no “dramatic” increase over the next three to six months as businesses remain cautious.

The Bellwether report also shows marketing budgets are still being cut, albeit at a slower rate than in the last quarter. The net balance of those reporting a cut in marketing budget eased to -15% in quarter three, compared with -28% in the second quarter and -42% at the end of last year.

With the National Institute of Economic and Social Research predicting that the UK economy did not grow in the third quarter as it was expected to do, it is understandable companies are cautious about their prospects and their willingness to hire staff. But it also appears there are reasons to be a little cheerful. As Evans says: “We are not jumping up and down with excitement but we are noticing an improvement”.

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