Marketing salaries jump up to 50% as labor market rebounds

After weathering the Covid-19 crisis amid budget cuts, the marketer job market has started to rebound, with many executive search agencies and recruiters juggling more roles than applicants.

As a result, salaries in many categories have increased beyond pre-pandemic levels, particularly at the senior level.

“Salaries suddenly jumped to the same level as before the pandemic and then exceeded,” said David Nobbs, managing partner and consumer manager at executive search agency Grace Blue.

“Organizations are willing to spend £ 20,000 or £ 50,000 more to find someone great for an opportunity because they know that person could increase tenfold if they get on board and succeed.”

Indeed, with companies also having to compete fiercely to retain existing talent, Nobbs told Marketing Week that it’s “not uncommon” to hear of organizations offering a 50% or more pay rise to employees. senior talents to stay in their current role.

“A lot of employers are really trying to retain top talent because it is a huge cost and a disaster if your featured artist quits,” he says. “It’s gotten pretty silly in terms of how much people are paid to continue doing their current jobs.”

[The pandemic] had a huge impact [on marketers], but things have rebounded quite aggressively and there is a real war for talent.
David Nobbs, Grace Blue

Leadership research agency Fortune Hill confirms that it has seen a similar trend of rising wages and increasing counter-offers, as have recruiting agencies Kindred, Michael Page, EMR and Hays.

Almost a quarter (23%) of employers who hire marketing professionals say they are more likely to offer a counter-offer to staff now than before the pandemic, according to a Hays study, while the chief executive of Kindred, Katie Jackson, calls the job market “an almost unrecognizable job market. market of 12 months ago ”.

However, while Fortune Hill Associate Director John Hunter suggests executive salaries “definitely increase” from pre-pandemic levels, he doubts that will reach a 50% increase. Instead, he says he’s seen senior marketing operators invited to participate in corporate share ownership plans or long-term incentive plans (LTIP) “at a level we’ve never seen before.” .

“Many organizations think this is the only way to make sure they can keep [staff] within this in-demand population, ”he says. “Lock them up and make sure it’s impossible for the best to leave.”

In particular, the agency sees this with its tech and FTSE clients, Hunter says, who are increasing their stock offerings and restructuring their packages to try to be more competitive.

“Keep in mind that these organizations have asked their top tables to accept pay cuts due to the pandemic. So they try to remedy that and keep people motivated, engaged and united, ”he explains.

It’s a similar story at the more junior end of the market, according to Anna Jacobs, managing director of EMR.

“We are definitely seeing an increase in salaries – noticeable for the junior segment of the market right now. This is welcome because most marketing salaries have been stagnant for years, ”she says.

“Candidates are generally cautious because we are not yet out of the pandemic. And many are now enjoying new ways of working and saving money on commuting, making it harder to reward potential candidates for comfortable roles.

“This means that the traditional 5-10% salary increase is no longer as appealing as it once was, and they expect a significant increase to offset the risk of the role change. “

On the flip side, some candidates are stepping down because they did not receive bonuses last year, or their salaries did not return to pre-pandemic levels, Jacobs adds, and as such, they are looking for significant increases.

A candidate market

According to all agencies, the salary increases are driven by the growing competitiveness of the market from an employer perspective, with more jobs available than talent overall.

“[The pandemic] had a huge impact [on marketers], but things have rebounded quite aggressively and there is a real war for talent, ”says Grace Blue’s Nobbs.

At the high end of the spectrum, Nobbs says applicants who have been sought out by Grace Blue generally have many more opportunities to consider than before. They are now considering four to five opportunities simultaneously, he says, a 50% increase from pre-pandemic levels.

“The job market is a lot more competitive, but it’s the employers who compete for the best talent and not just the candidates who compete for the opportunities,” he says. Candidates are therefore much better placed than before to negotiate compensation.

“It’s really a candidate market,” he adds. “They can choose an opportunity. “

Fortune Hill’s Hunter has also witnessed a “noticeable increase” in the recruitment of C-suite marketing talent over the past six months, after many marketing managers left their positions during the pandemic and were replaced with talented people. more juniors, such as marketing managers, to reduce costs.

Brands have realized that companies that invested in marketing during the pandemic have largely come out on top, says Hunter. “This has prompted many organizations to now prioritize marketing after solving the operational, technological and structural challenges that the pandemic has forced them to overcome.

“I think this trend will probably continue into the new year,” he adds. “If they brought in a more junior person to stabilize the ship last year, they are now looking for an older person to really take the brand forward. “

On the candidate side, Nobbs predicts a “big resignation” to come, where marketers who have had time to reflect over the past 18 months are stepping down from their roles, after reconsidering what they expect from a job.

However, Hunter expects uncertainty during the winter months over the possibility of another foreclosure to make job security more important to many marketers, meaning the competition could become even more important. more intense.

Ready-to-use traders

Meanwhile, says Jackson of Kindred, at the intermediate to senior levels, a large portion of clients are focusing on “out-of-the-box” candidates with experience, which creates “increased pressure” on this pool of candidates. talents. This is happening “most notably” in the digital marketing and social media space, she says.

Ball and Hoolahan’s senior consultant Danielle Lavin says she’s seen a similar trend, with more clients looking for candidates “who can do it all.”

As a result, employers need to carefully consider salary levels if they are to hire the right talent quickly. “Where salaries are less competitive, recruiting takes a lot longer than usual,” says Jackson.

Likewise, Hunter suggests that organizations with less digital awareness than others struggle to hire because they hope to attract top digital talent.

“We’re looking for a very well-known company right now that isn’t the most digitally native organization, but they really want the best digital talent,” he says. “You have to work twice as hard in these situations because generally the best digital talent wants to work for the best digital companies. “

In these cases, he says the organizations have offered “slightly inflated salaries in order to secure these people and lock them up.”

As to whether the wage increase will be sustained in the future, Hunter is not sure, although he wouldn’t be surprised if it persisted like these things “usually do.” “It’s very difficult to go back on that,” he adds.

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