So How Is the Job Market Looking in 2011?

So we are firmly into May; spring is here and the warm weather is making the flowers bloom. Summer approaches fast and our thoughts turn to sun, sea, and sand. But those ice cold beers and cocktails only last a short while before the realities of work come flooding back as you sit on the plane home wondering if the grass is really greener on the other side of the fence?

Let’s be honest, we are all mere mortals and it’s only human nature to be curious about such things. And if you work in digital media, then it’s quite likely you are an avid fan of social media and probably can’t help but notice how happy some people are at XYZ company or the amount of new jobs being blasted out across the Twitterverse with such abandon. So how is the digital job market shaping up so far in 2011?

It’s shaping up pretty well and has been doing so for the past few years. It is certainly an industry that has weathered the global downturn better than most and in many areas has, in fact, flourished. As someone who spends all of my working hours speaking to companies and head hunting talent for them in this space, I feel I’m reasonably well-placed to pick out a trend or two within the market. I’d be willing to bet a dollar or two on what will happen the rest of this year within the digital marketing sector.

Whether you are based in the U.K., Europe, Asia, or the Americas, the only real differences to be seen are localized salary trends. Apart from that, the actual markets themselves are mirrored pretty closely. So what specific jobs are pushing the envelope in regards to demand and what factors are driving this upward curve? If one thing is true in 2011, it’s the simple fact that the job market has swung from being client-driven to one that is dominated by candidate demand. What do I mean by this? In layman’s terms, highly qualified job seekers are at a major shortage and it is becoming more evident that companies looking to hire are facing hugely increased competition at interview and offer stages within the recruitment process.

Competition is fierce at all experience levels and this is also driving salary levels upwards at an increased rate month-on-month. The honest truth is, nine times out of 10, if you want a pay rise or promotion you must jump ship and join a new company. And there is no shortage of firms who are screaming out to attract people to them right now. Where traditional advertising spend may have decreased during the recession in areas such as TV, online spend is up and companies are looking to invest in areas such as SEO and PPC, which can show demonstrated returns on investment. These areas also happen to be vastly cheaper than those primetime TV advertising slots.

Natural search is still the dominating sector within the markets and will be for the foreseeable future. Firms are recruiting across the board from graduate entry all the way to director level. SEO strategy is at the heart of most companies’ campaigns and as departments grow, it has become evident that there’s a lack of experienced people to meet demand. Luckily this is a mature sector within marketing as is PPC, and although hard to find relevant candidates, there is certainly a larger pool of people to hunt within.

The two areas that are showing huge growth this year are social media and analytics. The demand for people in these disciplines far exceeds supply and as such the salaries are rising faster than other roles. With social being an emerging market still, the candidate pool is small in comparison and applicants looking to move are finding their skills in huge demand. More and more, people are moving into social media, but it will be a good year or two before salaries level out as experienced staffers become more numerous.

As for analytics-based roles, companies are looking to invest in their data and to use it to hunt out profits. These positions all tend to be quite specialized and often at senior levels with extremely lucrative salaries on offer. Due to the technical nature of the work, fewer people are operating within the market and as such any applicant with good experience will find herself being fought over by clients. Conversion, monetization, and experts with strong skills such as multivariate testing are required by both agency and in-house teams.

It will be very interesting to see how the market matures over the next six to 12 months. But one thing is for sure, jobs in this sector are not going away and to have skills in SEO, PPC, social, and analytics will pretty much guarantee that you won’t be in a position to worry about unemployment any time soon.

Looking for the top talent in the interactive marketing space? ClickZ Job Board connects businesses to the top interactive professionals.

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Overhead view of a row of four business people interviewing a young male applicant.