DM employment survey shows mixed outlook

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More than two-thirds of direct marketers plan to make new hires before the end of the year, but staff cutbacks and hiring freezes are also on the rise, according to the latest employment survey from Bernhart Associates Executive Search LLC.

According to the survey, 67 percent of respondents indicated they would be adding to staff during the next three months, up from 66 percent in July. That percentage has come down from 80 percent a year ago, which was a record high for the survey, now in its fifth year.

"We're seeing some cross-currents in the labor market, but the new hire index remains strong and companies will be looking for a wide range of direct marketing skills," said Jerry Bernhart, president of Bernhart Associates, Owatonna, MN.

At the same time, the percentage of companies planning staff cutbacks increased to 10 percent compared with 2 percent during the summer, and 15 percent of the companies said they have imposed a hiring freeze, which is up from 6 percent during the summer.

"There was very strong hiring activity during the first half of this year," Mr. Bernhart. "It appears some companies are bringing down the help-wanted signs until 2007."

Past survey results can be found in the Direct Marketing Association's Statistical Fact Book.

Multichannel multifaceted

Mr. Bernhart said the need is strong and growing for candidates with multichannel marketing skills.

"There used to be a time when traditional direct marketing skills were sufficient, but now companies want direct marketers who can integrate all of the critical customer touch-points," Mr. Bernhart said. "They will be in continued high demand for the foreseeable future."

Companies also said they anticipate openings for the rest of 2006 in account management, e-commerce, consulting, sales and marketing analysis.

A total of 143 companies responded to the randomly e-mailed survey in the first week of October.

Companies interested in being added to the quarterly survey should send an e-mail to survey@bernhart.com with "opt-in" in the subject line.

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