Top talent has become perilously scarce in the marketing industry. According to a recent survey published by RSW/US, 85% of agencies and 83% of marketers find it either “very” or “somewhat difficult” to hire top-notch employees; in addition, both agencies and marketers indicated “finding good talent” as the top challenge facing each other. Interestingly, this talent drought comes at a time when marketing budgets are increasing, so while marketers and agencies alike have more resources at their disposal, it’s still difficult for them to attract world-class recruits.
The study’s findings align with previous predictions by industry experts that talent will become an Achilles heel for marketers and advertisers. In September 2017, the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) released a survey warning that the industry is staring down a “talent crisis” owing to a lack of college graduates interested in careers in marketing or advertising. If this shortage of talent comes to fruition, it would have deleterious effects on the industry at large, such as in the form of reduced or slow growth at firms.
The ANA’s report pointed to four factors behind college graduates’ apathy toward marketing and advertising jobs: digital disruption and transformation in the industry; increased competition for their talent from tech companies; outdated academic curricula that does not adequately keep up with changes and new developments in the industry; and “differing generational expectations of work environment, job responsibilities and career advancement.” Furthermore, graduates were unsure of what a career in marketing or advertising involved and whether or not it would qualify as “meaningful” work in their eyes.
The ANA—along with the ANA Educational Foundation (AEF)—developed a plan to address the disconnect between the industry, academics, and students, known as Pathways 2020. The plan includes campus visits by industry representatives, an expanded “Visiting Professors” program, best practices for internships, and more.
The RSW/US survey also noted an incredible 71% of marketers sought out a “specialty agency” in 2017, up from 52% in 2014 and 47% in 2013. Mark Sneider, RSW/US’ owner and president, told Adweek that the ongoing shift toward specialized agencies is a response to the complexity and fragmentation of today’s media and marketing environment.