Survey suggests softening DM job market

 The number of hiring freezes and layoffs imposed by direct marketing-related companies are on the rise, according to the latest employment survey from Bernhart Associates.

“All of our hiring indicators are turning more negative,” said Jerry Bernhart, president of Bernhart Associates Executive Search, in a statement. “This weakness comes as no surprise given the recent news of layoffs and the current overall economic climate.”

The e-mail survey was sent the week of January 7. A total of 79 companies responded.

According to the survey, 12% of direct marketers indicate they are planning layoffs during the first quarter of 2008, up from 9% in the last quarter. The biggest increase came in the percentage of companies that have imposed a hiring freeze for the first quarter, which increased from 9% to 13%. Most companies said they were unsure if the freezes would be lifted by spring, Bernhart said.

In addition, 58% of the companies responding said they plan to add staff during the first quarter, which is down 2% from the previous survey in October.

The survey also reflects a shift in the degree of difficulty companies are having attracting qualified talent, something which has been cited as a significant problem for the industry until recently. According to the survey, 19% of the companies said they were having a “very difficult” time attracting qualified talent. The remainder indicated it was only “somewhat difficult” or “not difficult at all.”

“The pendulum is beginning to shift from a candidate-driven job market to more of an employer-driven market,” Bernhart said. 

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