Direct Marketing Job Outlook Softens

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The slowdown in the overall U.S. economy is apparently beginning to impact hiring plans for direct marketers, according to a survey released July 18.

"Our latest quarterly employment survey is showing about a 7 percent drop in the new hire index," said Jerry Bernhart, president of Owatonna, MN-based Bernhart Associates Executive Search LLC , which has been measuring employment trends in direct marketing for the past 5 years. "This is not particularly alarming, nor is it surprising when you look at the recent economic data. Most job seekers are finding opportunities out there but the job market is not as robust as it was a year ago."

Among companies responding to the survey, 65 percent said they plan to add to staff this summer, down from 72 percent in the spring and 80 percent last fall.

"We noticed a spike in demand for internet-related skills, particularly web designers and graphic artists," said Bernhart. " Demand for sales representatives also will be strong this quarter. The good news is that we're seeing fewer layoffs"

Bernhart noted that only two companies out of the more than 100 that responded reported they plan to reduce headcount during the next three months, a record low for the survey.

Survey results are published in the DMA's Statistical Fact Book.

Bernhart said business has been brisk on the executive search side. "We're filling positions across many direct marketing functions and at all levels. Many of the human resource managers we work with are telling us that for some positions their online job postings just aren't producing results, so they're looking for alternatives."

One hundred and twenty six direct marketing companies including agencies, suppliers and end-users participated in the survey, which was e-mailed the week of July 10.

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