Hiring demand for marketers could start to slow in 2023. Here’s how job seekers can still thrive, according to marketing recruiters

“Don’t leave a job until you have another one lined up,” one recruiter said.
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Schitt’s Creek/CBC via Giphy

· 5 min read

It’s hard(er) out here for a marketer.

For the past few years, job candidates across industries seemed to have it pretty good: Higher wages, WFH opportunities, and potentially even shorter work weeks, while some employers reported an uptick in “quiet quitting.”

Some marketing roles are still in high demand, according to marketing recruiters we spoke to who work with brands, agencies, ad-tech companies, and more. But they also said that demand is starting to come back down to earth after a surge.

“From the start of the rebound from Covid, there was about 27 months where I’ve never worked harder before in my entire life,” Avi Mally, CEO of Three Pillars Recruiting, which has worked with clients including Albertsons, Havas, Zenith, and The Trade Desk, told us. “We had our two biggest years in 2021 and 2022.”

Mally said his team, which recruits talent from CMOs down, is still “busy enough” to support a staff of 30 employees, but has about half as many roles to recruit for as they did at their peak.

With hiring in the marketing industry showing signs of slowing down, recruiters we spoke to said that job seekers might face a more competitive landscape as the market shifts.

End of an era

That might mean saying goodbye to what Mally called a “candidate-driven market.” For some younger marketers who have “never seen an economic cycle shift,” that could be hard, he added (though he acknowledged the notable exception of the impact the beginning of the pandemic had on the job market when some now-professionals were still in college).

Some of Mally’s tips for that cohort:

  • Research the company you’re applying to.
  • Send a thank you note to show your interest (even though it might be considered “old school” by some employers).
  • Be “reasonable” and “flexible” when it comes to compensation expectations.

“Don’t miss out on an opportunity because you’re just so accustomed to the past 24 months,” he said.

Lauren Lotka, founder of Lotka&Co, which specializes in placing high-level executives from senior directors to SVPs and CMOs and has worked with brands like The North Face and Adidas, said even top marketers might have to adjust their salary expectations.

“The next month might still feel like things are picking back up, but certainly not at the cadence it was last year,” she told Marketing Brew. “It was wild this time last year. Salary expectations last year were up a good 20%–30% of where they should have been, and the market demand was driving a lot of that.”

Lotka’s advice for higher-up marketers looking to land a new gig:

  • Don’t shy away from networking.
  • Quality over quantity—be “very intentional” with outreach and conversations.
  • Candidates should do their research and not be afraid to ask about potential issues a company is facing, especially if they think they might be able to contribute solutions.
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Jay Haines, founder of executive search firm Grace Blue, which places “advertising and marketing leadership talent” across brands, agencies, and consultancies, said his team has yet to notice a slowdown in hiring demand but acknowledged that the industry could soon see a “falloff” in open positions at lower levels.

“Don’t leave a job until you have another one lined up,” he advised.


Another trend recruiters said they’re keeping their eyes on in 2023: Brands might be less likely to hire outside agencies to handle some of their marketing work. Instead, they “really want to build these capabilities in-house,” Mally said.

“Last year, we took on an opportunity with a client to build an entire in-house brand design team because they had outsourced everything, or mostly everything, to agencies over a 50-year history, but then realized that wasn’t doing the business any service,” Lotka said.

Haines said his team has also done a lot of similar work for clients, recently “one of the world’s largest financial services companies,” he shared.

When it comes to roles and skill sets, hiring demand shifted from “pure-play creativity or branding” roles to areas like programmatic and e-commerce in the first years of the pandemic, according to Haines, across brands and agencies. That trend continued into 2022, he said.

“You’re seeing hiring of more people who understand data science, analytics, return on investment, supply-chain management, infrastructure, call-center management, every single part that touches the customer, rather than just the marketing and the advertising,” he said. “Customer experience is the single biggest play we are seeing, the single biggest trend we are seeing.”

In general, marketers should focus on “how to do a lot with a little” given potential budget constraints while also working to maintain morale among their teams, especially if they’re facing organizational changes like layoffs, Lotka told us.

“It’s a lot to ask,” she said. “But getting people through difficult times is something that I think we’ve all become very familiar with at this point.”

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