We have always been big believers of following hiring trends as a really accurate indicator of the economy, and in particular, the tone among small business owners and those that provide advertising services to them.
When we received this recent summary from Robert Hawthorne, the President and Founder of Hawthorne Search on hiring trends in the local search industry for Q1 2013, we thought it would provide you with some very good insights on what’s happening in the trenches. Robert and his team of recruiters has been working with a wide range of clients in the local search segment for over a dozen years. His client base ranges from Yellow Page publishers, to advertising agencies, to pure online players. Just as the old TV commercial goes — when Robert speaks, we listen. Here is Robert’s report:
2013 has seen a noteworthy uptick in hiring activity versus q1 2012. We certainly are not in what anyone would describe as “boom times” but there is a significant increase in companies hiring versus q4 2012 or q1 2012.
A noteworthy trend is the amount of time that companies take to fill the openings that they do have. There seems to be a catch 22 in terms of needing to hire, but not wanting to add to the cost structure. Many companies have adapted the position that they are willing to add cost only if a “purple unicorn” i.e. nearly impossible to find candidate comes along. What this says to us is that companies have definitive needs, but there is reluctance to hire due to general economic uncertainty.
Less Field Leadership: Another trend is a consolidation of sales leadership positions in both traditional and digital media. Gone are the days when companies new to the market are building out large field sales team and the managers to lead them. Most companies are either selling through channels and trying to piggy back existing sales teams of their partners, or building specialized inside call centers. There are a few exceptions, like Cardlytics in Atlanta, but overall we are seeing fewer regional sales manager, area sales manager type searches than at any time in the past five years.
More Agency Sales: Where companies are hiring is in the national/regional market with a focus on individuals who can sell through agencies and also to franchise groups. If you are a sales person with legitimate agency relationships in New York, San Francisco or Chicago, your phone is no doubt ringing. We worked with a candidate in NYC who had strong agency ties and he had FIVE offers to sort through.
Mobile has not exploded as one might have expected. There is still a decent push in mobile, mobile/local, but not at the clip that many had predicted a few years ago. Where we do see activity is in verticalized companies, i.e. health and wellness, travel, auto, etc. There seems to be an increasing number of local search companies that continue to try and own a vertical market as opposed to a geography. For candidates it appears to be better to be a specialist as opposed to being a generalist.
Consolidation in traditional media continues. With the Supermedia/Dex merger, and the senior management shake up at Hibu, we continue to see a large influx of resumes, but very few job openings to send these talented professionals out on. Similarly, our newspaper clients continue to shed headcount, and where they do add, it is strictly on the digital/mobile side.
Deal Mania fades: Just 18 months ago our phones rang off the hook for deals companies looking to add headcount as quickly as possible. With the implosion at Groupon, and Living Social’s continued inability to become profitable, the flow of jobs has turned into a trickle. Smaller companies have folded and those that haven’t certainly are not looking to add to headcount.
Loyalty takes the lead: Loyalty, or what some might call “deals 2.0” has taken the wheel. Companies like Cardlytics, Catera, Edo and many others are partnering with banks and developing loyalty offering that have shaken up the local space. These companies are being selective in terms of adding head count, but most are extremely robust about their future and boast major private equity firms backing them up.
All in all we give the local search jobs market a solid “B” in terms of amount of activity, quality of jobs available, etc.
If you are looking to hire, Hawthorne Search has an unsurpassed list of contacts in the industry and a 80% success rate on all search projects we engage upon. Whether you are looking to hire a sales rep in Chicago, or a VP of Digital Strategy in NYC, we can help.
President – Hawthorne Search
(910) 777-5383 // C (910) 297-8729