Green Shoots for Digital Marketing, Creative & Tech Hiring Heading into 2024

Alex Straw     Creative & Tech Digital Marketing Digital talent Hiring Recruitment

For businesses operating across the Digital Marketing, Design and Tech markets, there’s no escaping the fact that 2023 has been an interesting, if not tricky year for hiring and company growth.

After a busy couple of years in the recruitment sector, a rise in inflation, stories of high-profile mass layoffs and subsequent economic pressures have, in the main, led to purse strings tightening.

Likewise, following a post-pandemic boom in hiring throughout 2021 and 2022 as many companies embarked on digital transformation projects, we saw a cooling off in recruitment activity this year and a return to hiring levels more in-line with those in 2019.

This slowdown in hiring resulted in a drop in confidence withing Marketing and Creative departments, with these teams often the first to feel the impact of reduced recruitment budgets and hiring freezes.

Yet, there’s more to the story if you dig a little deeper, and with the new year just around the corner, despite plenty of challenges remaining, there’s a sense of optimism that’s sure to keep the festive cheer lasting well into 2024.

Here’s a look at the state of things as we see it here at Digital Gravity.

Tech investment remains a priority

Although investment has slowed compared to 2022, the UK remains “the best place to invest in tech in Europe”, with the burgeoning sector set to receive billions in funding thanks to the Government’s November pledge to commit £29.5bn in new UK projects and capital.

It is hoped this investment will lead to the creation of thousands of jobs and greater confidence amongst businesses in a hugely important sector that’s the third in the world to be worth $1 trillion.

Bottoming out of the curve

A period of recovery will tend to follow any slowdown period, and we saw this in Q2 and Q3 as the economy began to climb upwards out of the economic downturn.

Throughout 2023, as it has done so often, the Digital, Creative and Tech sectors remained resilient and found opportunities for growth and innovation, leading the recovery across the UK.

And with reports indicating that cooling inflation and a robust job market should lead to the global economy outperforming expectations in 2024, this is good news for businesses globally.

Freelance and temp opportunities steadily rising

Within the Digital and Creative sector, there has remained a strong demand for work throughout 2023.

Although a significant proportion of businesses have been more wary of making longer-term hires, the current climate has provided a greater number of opportunities to freelancers and those looking for short-term projects to work on.

The rate of decline in permanent hiring has also been slowing in recent months, with businesses now more willing to commit to their long-term growth strategies as they look ahead to 2024.

Managing stress and employee wellbeing high on agendas

The slowdown in hiring this year, coupled with a steady workflow has led teams to become stretched, meaning rising stress levels and a real risk of burnout amongst staff.

Stress has been one of the biggest contributors to a rise in workplace absences in 2023, with two-thirds (76%) of respondents to a CIPD survey reporting they’d taken time off due to stress.

As such, more and more workplaces are taking an organisational approach to mental health and wellbeing support, and it’s a become a key priority for people professionals and companies across the UK.

Growth in marketing vacancies indicating positive signs

Despite being down in comparison to the initial post-pandemic years, hiring numbers across the marketing skillsets during H2 in 2023 are broadly mirroring those of 2019.

As we approach the end of the year, Digital Marketing professionals continue to be in high demand, which is a real positive following a tricky period for the sector at the end of 2022/start of 2023.

Return to work trend is growing

The calls for a return to the office have been getting louder in recent months, and several big names have issued mandates putting a stop to their teams working remotely full-time.

Policies outlining in-office attendance on certain days, no back-to-back WFH days, a minimum of 3 days a week in the office and fewer opportunities to work remotely on a full-time basis seem to be fairly standard in the market, although it’s true that not everyone is following suit.

AI creating future opportunities

AI use across the sector looks to be increasing as agencies and brands start to implement the tools across their teams to improve processes, manage workloads and impact campaigns.

As the adoption of AI becomes more and more commonplace, we’re beginning to see an increase in the number of roles that place these skills and experience using these technologies as key requirements.

Increased salary levels will remain

The demand for talent post-pandemic and uplift in hiring that took place in 2021/22 resulted in salaries rising, in some cases significantly, across Digital Marketing, Creative and Technology specialisms.

With businesses competing to attract the best talent, these higher salaries are here to stay and candidates are likely to take advantage of the talent shortages within the sector to command better pay at these higher levels.

Top talent is out there to be found

A growing confidence and strength within the market will naturally filter down to a candidate level as growth and hiring become a key priority once more.

The talent within our markets have always been receptive to the possibility of taking new challenges and there will always be great people either active on the market or open to opportunities.

As a result, the job of a hiring manager has become harder than ever as they work to sort through applications and build strong candidate shortlists.

With these difficulties set to be exacerbated as the requirement for headcount ramps up, turning to a specialist to support could be the crucial.

So, if you could use some support scaling up your team, or you’re keen to secure a new role for yourself, why not chat to us today to discover how we can help?