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Q1 DM Jobs Picture Brightens: Survey

01/18/11

By Ken Magill

The direct-marketing jobs picture is about to significantly brighten, according to a survey released today by DM headhunting firm Bernhart Associates Executive Search.

Fifty two percent of companies that responded to the survey said they plan to add staff in the first quarter of 2011, according to Bernhart Associates.

This is compared to 41% which said they planned to hire in the fourth quarter of 2010, according to the firm.

“I expected a bounce, but nothing like this, which is very encouraging,” said Jerry Bernhart, Principal of Bernhart Associates in a statement. “This is the most positive quarterly improvement we’ve ever seen in the 11-year history of our quarterly survey.”

The survey comes on the heels of a prediction by DM consultancy Winterberry Group that direct marketing and digital ad spending will increase 6.2% in 2011 to $163 billion.

Also in the good news column, just 16% of respondents to the Bernhart survey—which was emailed to 11,000 executives—said they have a hiring freeze in place this quarter, down from 35% in the last quarter, and 4% of companies said they are planning layoffs in the first quarter of 2011 compared 8% in the fourth quarter of 2010, according to Bernhart Associates.

Also according to Bernhart Associates, agencies are leading the expected hiring surge. Sixty three percent of agencies responding to the survey said they plan to add staff this quarter while none said they plan cuts and one reported a hiring freeze.

Bernhart also said he expects the hiring to take place at all levels.

“Usually we see a couple of job categories stand out, but this time it’s very broad-based with marketing, analytics, and sales topping the list, along with a strong showing among IT-related positions,” he said.

Bernhart added he is fielding more calls from companies asking about executive searches. “You don’t see that happen unless job recovery is taking hold,” he said.

This latest survey is in stark contrast to one Bernhart released in August in which nearly one third of 448 unemployed direct marketers said they had been looking for work for more than 18 months.

At the time, he said he wasn’t hearing much talk from companies planning to ramp up their hiring in 2011. Also according to the August survey, the amount of time it was taking out-of-work direct marketers to find jobs was more than double than that of the American workforce as a whole.

A lot has apparently changed in five months.

According to Bernhart, 399 organizations responded to the Quarterly Digital and Direct Marketing Employment Report for the first quarter of 2011.

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