What’s the employment outlook for creative talent? According to The Creative Group‘s latest State of Creative Hiring research, 60 percent of advertising and marketing hiring decision makers plan to expand their teams in the first half of 2019. Thirty-seven percent of employers anticipate maintaining staff levels and primarily filling vacated roles. In addition, 56 percent of companies expect to increase the number of freelancers they use in the next six months.

Web and mobile development and web production are the top areas for recruiting—and among the hardest to staff, results showed. Advertising and marketing hiring managers also reported a strong need for professionals with expertise in user experience, creative development and visual design.

6 In 10 companies plan to expand creative teams in first half of 2019

“As companies continue to invest in digital transformation, they seek people who can help with new and ongoing initiatives,” said Diane Domeyer, executive director of The Creative Group. “In addition to hiring full-time staff, many are bringing on freelancers to provide extra support during busy periods, fill skills gaps on their teams and access a different pool of talent.”

The research also shed light on staffing challenges and trends in the creative industry. Among the findings:

Good talent is hard to come by

Ninety-two percent of advertising and marketing hiring decision makers said it’s challenging to find creative professionals today.

6 In 10 companies plan to expand creative teams in first half of 2019

There’s a need for recruiting speed

When asked to name the greatest barrier to bringing on top talent, the most common response was a slow hiring process (19 percent), followed by a failure to offer competitive pay (17 percent).

Experience matters

When evaluating applicants for creative roles, 31 percent of hiring decision makers rated previous experience as the top criterion. Twenty-one percent of respondents said the portfolio carries the most weight.

Flexibility is a selling point

Employers surveyed said a flexible work schedule (32 percent) is the most desirable noncash perk for creative professionals. A generous vacation or time-off policy (21 percent) ranked second.

6 In 10 companies plan to expand creative teams in first half of 2019

Companies are relaxing some requirements

Seventy-four percent of hiring managers are now more willing to bring on creative talent who have relevant certifications in lieu of a college degree than they were 12 months ago.

Frequent job changes are a red flag

One-quarter of employers (25 percent) said it’s likely they’d remove a candidate from consideration if their resume showed a history of job hopping.

Retention is a top concern

Seventy-eight percent of companies are worried about losing current creative staff members to other job opportunities in the next 12 months.

6 In 10 companies plan to expand creative teams in first half of 2019

“U.S. unemployment is at its lowest level since 1969, and companies are struggling to staff open roles on their teams,” Domeyer added. “The talent shortage is even more pronounced for creative professionals with digital expertise—the precise individuals most in demand with employers. An efficient hiring process, competitive compensation and strong organizational culture are essential to recruiting in today’s market.”

The online survey was developed by The Creative Group and conducted by a leading independent research firm. It is based on responses from more than 400 advertising and marketing hiring decision makers who work full-time at agencies with 20 or more employees or companies with 100 or more employees in the United States.

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Richard Carufel

Richard Carufel

Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders.

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