DM talent gap widens; hiring plans steady

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Almost one in four direct marketers say it is very difficult to find qualified candidates to fill open positions, according to the latest direct marketing employment survey by Bernhart Associates Executive Search LLC.

According to the survey, 24 percent of respondents said it was "very difficult" and 53 percent said it was "somewhat difficult" to find qualified candidates. Only 18 percent said they were having little or no difficulty filling positions.

"As we suspected, a talent shortage seems to be developing in certain direct marketing job functions," said Jerry Bernhart, president of Bernhart Associates in Owatonna, MN.

Measurement of the ease or difficulty direct marketers are having in filling their open positions was a new question this quarter. A total of 182 companies responded to the survey, which was e-mailed to a random sample the week of April 9.

When asked about their hiring plans for the current quarter, two-thirds said they would be adding staff. Thirty percent plan no change in staffing levels, and 11 percent said they still have a hiring freeze. Only 3 percent of the companies responding expect to reduce staff during the current quarter.

Mr. Bernhart said analytic-related positions are still in strong demand and dominate the list of anticipated openings, followed by positions in creative, circulation and sales.

"Not only are a lot of new jobs opening up, layoffs are down to near-record lows," Mr. Bernhart said.

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