News

Marketing & Digital: Talent & Skills Snapshot 2023/24

7th March 2024

Based on ADLIB internal data and knowledge, here is a UK-wide sector talent and skills overview for the Marketing & Digital employment market.


SECTOR OVERVIEW

The UK is home to a wide range of businesses, from a booming start-up scene, to established SMEs, an ever-evolving spectrum of specialist marketing agencies, and large blue-chip corporates. Whilst lots of businesses are choosing to grow their marketing resource in-house, marketing agencies play an essential role to organisations which call upon them for specialist consultancy, and to handle their heavy-lifting.

Many businesses regard Marketing as being fundamental to their success as they evolve and react to changing audience behaviours. The number of  marketing vacancies in the UK fell by 41.8% in the first half of 2023 compared to 2022. Although that’s a big drop,  there was a 40% rise in the number of marketing vacancies the year prior,  so overall 2023 finished in a slightly better place than in 2021.

From conversations with ADLIB’s client base, agency and client side, the consensus is that the market is steadying. 2024 remains a tough market for some, but with new budgets around the corner, there is an optimistic outlook.

 


TALENT OVERVIEW

Demand for digital marketing skills continues to rise with most generalist marketing candidates having good digital expertise too. Ai is appearing on a range of job specs, from SEO Executives to Communications Managers, and Tik Tok is prolific among B2C marketing job specs where social media is a core channel. Trending tools include the likes of Braze, Salesforce Marketing Cloud and Canva.

Talent gaps are filled with candidates relocating to the key marketing hubs such as Brimingham, Bristol & Bath, Cardiff, Leeds, London, Manchester, and the M4 corridor, drawn to what these locations have to offer. With a vibrant scene that attracts students and graduates, there are talented juniors ready to step into their new Marketing careers.

There are also lots of great DfE-funded bootcamps available to a range of individuals including unemployed people, career changers and those looking to upskill. These are available across a range of locations, with the aim of upskilling talent who wouldn’t ordinarily have access to the training often required to enter a career in Marketing.

No matter the sector you’re in, be that Retail, eCommerce, FMCG, Professional Services, Financial Services, Manufacturing, Tech, Sustainability, Social Impact, or Charity, there is huge competition for talent. Although remote and flexible working has enabled businesses to attract talent from a wider geographical pool of candidates, there is also a greater number of opportunities available to candidates, often with inflated, London-weighted salaries being offered, even to those outside of the London area.

Compared to 2022, which was very much a candidate’s market with some of the highest rises in salaries of recent times, salaries have on the whole begun to level out. However, competition for the best talent still remains fierce.

Candidates remain picky with many of them opting only to apply for businesses that are purpose-driven, and offer an inclusive culture. Businesses are having to work harder to make their employer brand stand out.

According to APSCo business development, client relationship management and events skills are currently highly sought after, with a 54% uplift in demand for these skills when compared to last year. This is indicative of agency hiring which has remained a cornerstone of ADLIB’s placements for 2023.

These roles have overtaken digital expertise, which has dropped to the second largest segment, although this change could be driven by the increase in expectations for general marketers to have some form of digital abilities.

In contrast, the areas that have had the smallest uplift year on year are management and design, up 16% and 12% respectively.

By region, it’s no surprise that London remains dominant with 59% of the vacancies nationwide. The South East the second largest region, constituting 9.54%.

Remote-first roles seem here to stay too, with 6.1% of vacancies being location neutral, where people are no longer required to be based from the office full-time. This represents a 6x increase on pre-pandemic figures when around 1% of jobs were location neutral.

 


EQUITY, DIVERSITY & INCLUSION

 

Cannes Lions 2023 winners demonstrated that creativity can help make brands more inclusive. In Kantar’s The State of DEI 2023: What Marketers need to do to close the inclusion gaps, it was reported that advertisers are feeling more confident in inclusive representation related to women, race and ethnic groups, and in some cases, disabilities too.

This is echoed in Kantar’s Media Reactions study, which suggests over 6 in 10 marketers are confident about their organisations’ advertising avoiding stereotypes, including gender balanced content or inclusive and diverse representation, and notably confidence in producing racially balanced content has increased by 12 percentage points. However, that confidence is slashed in half when it comes to LGBTQ+ inclusive representation.

The Global DEI Census Report by the World Federation of Advertisers provides some key insights to what’s happening internally within organisations in the Marketing industry:

1 in 7 people say they would leave the industry on the basis of lack of diversity, equity and inclusion, which increases to 1 in 6 for women and LGBTQ+, 1 in 5 for ethnic minorities, and 1 in 4 for respondents with a disability.


72% of respondents said their company is actively taking steps to be more diverse and inclusive.


1 in 2 said things have improved in the past two years, but 3 in 10 said that things were the same.


According to the census, we haven’t moved the needle on inclusion. The Global DEI Census Inclusion Index score is 63% which is -1 ppts change compared with 2021.


 

The most common forms of discrimination being age, gender and family status:

  • 32% felt age can hinder their career at their current company (versus 12% who say age advantages their career)
  • 36% of women who have taken parental leave in the last 5 years said this has disadvantaged their career.
  • 42% of parents said family responsibilities hinder their career. The same is true of 41% of women and 39% of caregivers.

Women, LGBTQ+, ethnic minority and disabled respondents still have worse experiences than their counterparts:

  • 30% of women are more likely to say they are unfairly spoken over. The same is true for 39% for respondents with a disability and 30% for ethnic minority respondents.
  • 33% of ethnic minority respondents are more likely to say they feel undervalued compared to colleagues of equal competence. The same is true for 31% of women and 42% of disabled respondents.
  • 27% of disabled respondents report being bullied, undermined or harassed.

The Agency Collective and Hallam produced their second report about how representative agencies are of the UK population, which concluded that:

Minority ethnic groups are underrepresented

All minority ethnic groups, particularly the Asian demographic are underrepresented in the workforce and even more so in management positions.

  • 86% of all agency employees are white, compared to a national figure of 82%
  • Compared to the national average, agency workers who identify as Asian ethnicity are 37% below the national figure.

Leadership teams are still dominated by men

There are more women than men in the workforce, however not enough women are making it onto the leadership teams.

  • 54% of industry employees are women which is 3% above the national average, however 40% of senior management team members are female.
  • Whilst women outnumber men at junior level, they aren’t progressing through agencies at the rate as men. In fact, this percentage is 3% lower than in 2021
  • 68% of management teams contain at least one women
  • 32% of management teams are all male

LGBTQ+ representation is positive 

  • 7% of the agency workforce identify as LGBTQ+. This is encouraging as it is more than twice the figure for the UK population.
  • 1% of people who work agencies identify as transgender or non-binary with 0.3% of management teams identifying as trans or non-binary.
  • -11% decrease in the number of people who include pronouns in their email signature or LinkedIn profile. Implementing this policy is straightforward and showcases an organisation’s dedication to inclusive practices for transgender individuals.

Minority ethnic groups underrepresented 

  • 43% of UK agencies are 100% white, which is an increase of 4% on 2021 figures demonstrating that, far from making progress, ethnic minorities are still not fully represented.
  • There are 7% more Caucasians in management than the general workforce. This means that, when compared to national population figures, there are less than half as many people from under-represented groups working in management than there should be.

Inclusivity

Not enough agencies are making reasonable adjustments for employees who are neurodiverse or have a disability. There is a lot to be done when it comes to agencies making reasonable adjustments to aid inclusivity in this area.

  • 57% of agencies include a diversity statement in job descriptions
  • 49% have a policy to make reasonable adjustments to improve accessibility
  • 34% have a process to ask teams whether they are neurodiverse (e.g. dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD)
  • 19% have a separate miscarriage leave policy
  • 18% have none of the above

SKILLS IN DEMAND

TikTok

  • According to Influencer Marketing Hub, in 2023, social media users spend more time on TikTok than any other social media platform with an average of 55.8 minutes per day, followed by YouTube with 47.5 minutes then Twitter with an average of 34.1 minutes.
  • There were 67 billion active users of TikTok in Q3 of 2023.
  • And according to the Global Digital Report from Kepios, marketers have the potential to reach 1.09 billion users with ads on TikTok.
  • This is a 12.6% year-over-year increase in ad reach for the platform.

It’s no surprise that the majority of B2C marketing roles which include social media as a core channel, ask for knowledge and experience in TikTok specifically.

Ai

Whether you like it or not, Ai is revolutionising the marketing field. From automation to personalisation. You’ve even got the option to use Ai to help you write a post on LinkedIn. According to the 2023 State of Marketing AI Report by the Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute:

  • 64% of marketers considering Ai vital for success in 2023
  • 77% of marketers want Ai to reduce repetitive tasks
  • The personal use of AI tools is widespread among marketers, with 98% already using AI somehow.
  • 22% of organisations have generative AI policies, and 21% have an AI ethics policy.

We’ve seen Ai popping up in job descriptions for a range of roles including SEO Managers, Content Creators, Digital Analysts and Marketing Communications roles.

Automation, CX and Insights

According to Unlimited Group’s CMO Barometer 2023 90% of participants stated that they were using automation tools to improve their return on investment – data science, analytics, CRM, digital platforms and martech are most commonly named among techniques. The race to wholesale digital enablement is ongoing, with the C-suite of marketing pooling most of their focus and resources into tech.

B2B vs B2C, In-house vs Agency, single-channel specialist vs generalist:

As with last year, many of the marketing roles today require strong content and copywriting skills. There is still high demand for digital acquisition skills such as SEO, PPC, CRO, and Performance marketing in general.

SMEs tend to be fond of candidates who have a broad range of skills including creative tools like Canva, InDesign and Photoshop.

B2B businesses are utilising the lead generation skills of marketers through email and automation, content marketing and CRM, particularly within the SaaS world. HubSpotSalesforce Marketing Cloud and Braze are common tools included in B2B marketing job descriptions.

We’ve seen a steady volume of “Growth Marketer” opportunities within the Tech start-up / scale-up space. Although the 2023 economic climate was tough for many Tech businesses which may rely on funding, the hands-on nature of a Growth Marketer combined with the ability to test, learn and develop a medium-to-long term strategy means this has remained a key skill set in the start-up/scale-up world.

The Agency market has remained steady with salaries remaining high as businesses compete with one another to hire the best talent. We’ve seen a rise in the number of B Corp certified agencies. The UK B Corp community is growing faster than ever. There are now over 1,500 B Corps in the UK, with over 85,000 employees. which is hugely positive for the sector and people and planet too!

Agencies that haven’t already done so, are going the extra mile to differentiate themselves in a noisy market with revamped careers pages, EVP documents, and a greater emphasis on their social impact, non-financial benefits package, and employee wellbeing.

 


CONCLUSION

Whether you’re a hiring manager, business owner, or a candidate looking for their next career opportunity, there is a steadying market out there with some sectors finding it hard and others seemingly unaffected. With that comes stiff competition so it is important that you stand out and for all the right reasons, with inclusion being a core part of your EVP. Choosing a recruitment partner that is embedded in your sector, shares your values, and understands the importance of EDI will give you a massive advantage both from a hiring perspective and from a job-seeking perspective.

We’re excited to see what 2024 brings for the Marketing Recruitment sector! If you’re an employer or a jobseeker, and you’d like to work with us, get in touch.

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About ADLIB

We are a Recruitment Agency with purpose. Proudly B Corp certified and employee-owned. Our mission and impact go far beyond recruitment. We immerse ourselves in the worlds we operate in. A trusted partner, supporting growth and success at pace since 2001.

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