Marketing Talent & Skills Snapshot 2022/23 – South region

Sector overview
The South of 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 are also experiencing sustained growth as brands call upon them for specialist strategic 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.

Talent overview
Recent trends have seen a rise in demand for digital marketing skills and most generalist marketing candidates have good digital expertise. There is a large number of experienced marketing professionals in the region, who vary from having broader generalist experience, to niche and specialist skills.

Talent gaps are filled with candidates relocating to the region, drawn to what it has to offer. With a busy and vibrant city scene that attracts students and graduates, there are talented juniors ready to step into their new careers.

From Retail/FMCG to Professional Services, Financial Services, Manufacturing, Not for Profit and a growing Tech sector, there is huge competition for talent. Although remote and flexible working enables 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.

2022 has been a candidate’s market, and despite the UK experiencing a recession at the time of writing, we have seen little sign of things changing. Candidates are increasingly picky due to the amount of choice on offer, with many of them receiving multiple job offers within the 7-14 days of commencing their job search. Businesses are having to work harder to make their employer brand stand out and their values are as important as ever.

The Marketing sector as a whole has remained buoyant in 2022 with 40% more marketing vacancies in the first half of 2022 as opposed to H1 2021 with volumes for the second half of the year forecast to increase by 26.1% if current levels are maintained”. That’s according to research from the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) published in their blog on 26th September 2022:

By region, London remains dominant, accounting for 59% of the vacancies nationwide, with the South East the second largest region, constituting 9.54%.

Most interestingly though, 6.1% of vacancies are now location neutral, with people no longer required to be based from the office full-time. This represents a six-fold increase on pre-pandemic figures when around one in 100 jobs would be location neutral.

Hybrid working is the new normal and very few companies are reverting to five days in the office. Those that have returned to 5 days are losing staff to competitors that offer greater flexibility, with a 2:3 split (office/home) being the most common arrangement. As an agency, we’ve started to hear of a few more companies stipulating that employees come into the office more regularly, but those that demand 4 or 5 days in the office are experiencing greater difficulty in attracting applicants.

Since the pandemic, an increased number of businesses have chosen to go fully remote, which appears to be more popular between more experienced candidates, and with established social groups in a given location. There is a tendency for junior candidates to prefer more time in the office, in order to learn from their peers, and to build new social groups. The same is true of candidates relocating to a new city. Everybody has a different preference and reasons for it, but hybrid working seems here to stay and it can be the difference between a business successfully hiring talent or losing employees to competitors.

We’ve also seen a dramatic uplift in candidates choosing only to join purpose-led or sustainable businesses, with B Corp certification being recognised more widely as the standard for better business – a trend that we’re delighted to see!

Diversity, Equality & Inclusion
According to a recent survey on the ethnic background of marketing professionals in the United Kingdom in 2020 and 2021, results show that the marketing industry in the United Kingdom is gradually becoming more diversified.

  • In 2021, 12.2 percent of respondents identified as Asian, up from 4.1 percent who said the same in the previous year’s questionnaire.
  • In 2021, 2.7 percent of respondents identified as Black, up from 1.2 percent which is more than double the number who said the same in the previous year’s questionnaire.
  • In 2021, 5.1 percent of respondents identified as Mixed race, up from 4 percent which showed the smallest increase since the previous year’s survey.
  • The majority of marketers identify as white, at 75.3 percent, but that’s down from 84.6 percent in the year prior.

Although the data overall indicates that there has been an increase in diversity within the Marketing sector, we’ve found it really difficult to find up to date, accurate reports suggesting that there is a gap in insight. One thing is for sure, we must push for greater diversity in Marketing.

For ADLIB, it’s a work in progress and it’ll continue to be that way. Here is our dedicated page for True Diversity and Inclusion. We’re also running a Content Series called “True Diversity”. The purpose of our initiative and series is to feature, collate and showcase the breadth of initiatives and views that are all on a mission to work towards True Diversity and Inclusion. You can check out our most recent blog posts here.

Skills in demand
Since the end of the lockdown in 2021, we have seen a sharp rise in strategic, senior-level hires as businesses invest in growth or evolve in line with changes in customer behaviour. There has also been a significant increase in mid-level roles to deliver and implement new strategies. Businesses that are struggling to hire experienced candidates are increasingly open to entry-level marketers who they’ll look to train and develop.

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

SMEs are still fond of candidates who have creative skills and use tools such as Canva, InDesign and Photoshop.

B2B businesses are utilising the lead generation skills of Marketers through email and automation, content marketing and CRM so these skills are all in demand, particularly within the SaaS world. Tools like Adobe Campaign, HubSpot, Marketo, and Salesforce are trending skills in the B2B world.

We’ve seen a sharp rise in Growth Marketer opportunities within the Tech start-up / scale-up space. As more and more early-stage businesses gather funding to scale at pace they look for experienced generalists who are both hands-on and strategic with the ability to shape a marketing function from scratch.

The Agency market is booming with salaries seeing a significant rise over the last 2 years, and candidates being snapped up within a matter of days of coming onto the market. Some Agencies are going the extra mile to differentiate themselves in a noisy market with revamped careers pages and a greater emphasis on their benefits package and employee wellbeing.

Whether you’re a hiring manager, business owner, or a candidate looking for their next career opportunity, there is still a buoyant market out there, even with the recession upon us. With that comes stiff competition so it is important that you stand out and for all the right reasons. Choosing a recruitment partner that shares your values and understands your market can give you a massive advantage both from a hiring perspective and from a job-seeking perspective.

Although there is still a lot to be done from a DE&I perspective, it’s great to see that it’s properly on the agenda of many more businesses, and that conversations continue to gain momentum.

We’re excited to see how 2023 pans out for the Marketing sector. There’s plenty of reason for optimism.

Written by

Head of Marketing, Digital & eCommerce

Agency & In-house Marketing

View profile

Tony Allen