Ignore the fact that we are in the thick of summer; the fall recruiting season has officially started. Just as sweaters and tweed skirts adorn department store windows, job requisitions are populating the inboxes coast-to-coast. Recruiters with a front-row seat to this fashion show are reporting a common trend: Search has returned as a must-have for Fall 2008.
Even though search talent is always in style for employers, some of last year’s talent pool opted for a new look with start-ups and other fashion-forward jobs. This was particularly true for sales, account and media staff seeking to flex other digital muscles, gain more responsibility or avoid a potential search plateau. This year, the in-crowd is once again sporting search talent on their resumes, thanks to an uncertain economy, a maturing set of employers and better career planning.
During this period of economic uncertainty, traditional ad spends are dropping much like hemlines in a recession. However, the search line item remains solid for existing and new spenders, pushing the early stages of a domestic plateau back for the time being.
“It may be as planned or a reaction to the broader economy, but there are more and more ad dollars coming into the interactive space every day and the first door those dollars seem to knock on is search,” said Dan Goldsmith, managing director, executive search for AC Lion. This CMO vote of confidence in search also serves as a vote of confidence in search-related fields.
The evolving makeup of search firms has also contributed to the talent pool’s perception of the industry. Mark Schwartz, VP of business development for Steak, recalls talent leaving as search firms “naturally moved from a highly entrepreneurial culture to one of a more corporate environment.
“Now we’re seeing those same people return to the fold, especially since search has moved beyond basic result pages into social, mobile and video media,” he continued.
Not only is talent being drawn back in, but employers are willing to pay for the best and brightest. “Now the job requirements that come to us say ‘we need the best you have and we’re willing to pay top dollar for them’. Again, sales people perceive that shift and they want to stay in search as they see continued career development and earning potential,” added Goldsmith.
Even more traditional agencies continue to seek search expertise to add to the marketing mix. “While we source multidisciplined talent, the search channel is strong among the digital crowd,” noted Jeff Hall, director of global HR for Y&R Brands.
For those who prefer to nix seasonal trends for a classic look, Ken Clark, EVP for Onward Search has some good news: Search has a firm role in long term career planning.
“Having the knowledge and skill set to manage a search marketing strategy and/or campaign is an absolutely mandatory skill set for current and future CMOs, VPs of marketing or other marketing directors,” he said. “Career marketers recognize this and want to move into jobs which will give them direct experience with, and grow their knowledge of, search marketing.”