Direct, digital marketers plan to add staff in Q1: Bernhart Associates

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The majority of direct and digital marketers will hire staff this quarter, according to an employment report from recruitment firm Bernhart Associates Executive Search released January 18.

Fifty-two percent of respondents said they will add employees in the first quarter, up from 41% last quarter. Sixteen percent of the survey's 399 respondents said they have a hiring freeze in place, down from 35% in Q4 2010. The number of respondents who said they are planning layoffs dropped to 4%, compared with 8% in the previous quarter.

“Happy times aren't here again,” said Jerry Bernhart, principal of Bernhart Associates, “but we're heading towards them.”

Agencies were more optimistic about hiring than clients, according to the study. Sixty-three percent of agencies said they plan to add staff this year, and no firms planned cutbacks or reported a hiring freeze. Bernhart noted that about half of client-side marketers said they will hire during the quarter.

The report also revealed that improved margins and demand has created the need for more headcount, and that resumes submitted by recently laid-off digital and direct marketers have declined. It also noted that online digital and direct marketing-related job listings were up sharply in recent months.

Bernhart said he is confident that the rate of hiring will bounce back to pre-recession levels, particularly because he is fielding more calls from companies about executive searches.

“I'm getting calls [about executive positions] now on a daily basis,” Bernhart said. “You don't see that unless jobs are taking hold. It's one of the final indicators.”

Bernhart Associates e-mailed the Q1 hiring survey on January 5 and 12 to more than 11,000 senior executives, hiring managers, human resource officials and other key participants in online and offline direct marketing.

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