Bernhart Associates’ Jerry Bernhart on the Direct Marketing Job Market
TM: What factors are shifting the job market from candidate-driven to employer-driven?
JB: It’s getting easier for marketers to find qualified talent. That’s because there are more people looking, either because they lost their jobs or they’re getting nervous about the stability of their current positions.
TM: What percentage of recent graduates are entering the direct marketing field?
JB: I’m not seeing as many young people get into the industry as I did 15 or 20 years ago. Perhaps that’s partly because they are more attracted to areas like high-tech, where they see opportunities that, to them, are more exciting and have strong long-term prospects.
TM: Do you think the Direct Marketing Association education program efforts will begin to help offset this new talent deficit?
JB: I hope so! Clearly, there needs to be a pipeline of new talent, because companies simply aren’t devoting resources to training and developing talent like they used to in this industry.
TM: As more seasoned job seekers come onto the market, what are three tips for direct marketing firms working to hire talent?
JB: #1—Break the rules. Don’t adhere to outdated hiring practices, like setting a salary range and hiring within it. Break the compensation rules to hire the right candidate. Pay for the person and for performance, not the job.
#2—Don’t just work with the people you inherit. Take bold actions to build the talent pool you need. If we enter into a full-blown recession, you will have a rare opportunity to pick up top talent that will not otherwise be available once the economy gets back on its feet.
#3—Treat recruiting like it’s a marketing function—not purchasing—and shape your entire company, your jobs and your corporate strategy to appeal to talented people.