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Bernhart Associates' Q2 hiring survey: Marketers' employment outlook stable

OWATONNA, US: After a big spike in first-quarter hiring, employers plan to hold firm on staffing this spring, according to Bernhart Associates' Quarterly Digital and Direct Marketing Hiring Report for the second quarter of 2012.
"The good news is that the downward trend continues in hiring freezes and staff cuts, and in some categories, layoffs are at an all time low," said Jerry Bernhart, leading direct and digital marketing recruiter and principal of Bernhart Associates Executive Search, LLC, which conducts the widely tracked quarterly hiring survey. "But we're not seeing improvement in the rate of new job creation. The same uncertainties that worry economists and financial markets apparently also worry digital and direct marketers."

The following are key findings from Bernhart Associates' quarter-two (Q2) survey:
  • 50% of companies responding to the survey said they plan to add to staff in the current quarter, down slightly from 52% last quarter. One year ago, the index stood at 45%.
  • 13% of respondents currently have a hiring freeze, compared with 19% during the winter quarter.
  • The percentage of companies planning layoffs in Q2 dropped to 4%, compared with 6% last quarter.
  • Business-to-consumer marketers continued leading the way in planned new hiring at 54%.
  • Among business-to-business participants, 47% said they expect to add to staff in the spring quarter, down slightly from 48% last quarter.
  • Layoffs at agencies, services and marketers collectively have dipped to an all-time survey low of 3%.
When asked what positions will be in greatest need during the current quarter, employers listed analytic-related jobs on top, followed by marketing, web designers, sales and account management. "This is the first time in the 12-year history of the survey that demand for web designers has reached the top five," said Bernhart.

The second-quarter Bernhart report comes on the heels of a separate report released earlier this month by the online careers and recruiting firm Monster Worldwide, showing that its own employment index was unchanged from February.

Large sample


Bernhart Associates' Q2 hiring survey was emailed on 3 April to more than 14 000 senior executives, hiring managers, human resource officials, and other key participants in online and offline direct marketing. A total of 384 organisations responded to the nationally followed hiring-trends survey, which is now in its 12th year.

According to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), in 2011, marketers - commercial and non-profit - spent US$163bn on direct marketing, which accounts for 52.1% of all ad expenditures in the US. Measured against total US sales, these advertising expenditures generated approximately US$1.96tn in incremental sales. In 2011, direct marketing accounted for 8.7% of total US gross domestic product. Also last year, there were 1.3 million direct marketing employees in the US. Their collective sales efforts directly supported 7.9 million other jobs, accounting for a total of 9.2 million US jobs.

Results of past surveys can be found in the DMA's annual Statistical Fact Book and on Bernhart Associates Executive Search, LLC's website.

Companies interested in participating in the Bernhart Associates' Quarterly Digital and Direct Marketing Hiring Report should send an email to with "Opt-In" in the subject line, or they can sign up directly on the front page of the digital and direct marketing recruiting firm's website.
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