On Friday I had the pleasure of taking part in a panel discussion with graduate students from Northwestern University’s Masters of Science in Communication program. The topics covered included: career paths, job search and the effects of the current economy for recent graduates.
Here are a few of the insights that I gathered and shared with them:
Masters of Communications vs. MBAs:
We ran a quick pool of several senior level marketing and communications professionals to get their take on the value of a Masters of Communications. As of today 51 have responded. Nearly 50% said it gave a professional a leg up or was “a must”. Only 17% said other degrees are better. The poll is still live. Feel free to participate and check out the results: Poll
One of the trends we are seeing is a polarization of compensation. The top 10% of earners within marketing and communications make at least 50% more income than the average earnings of the bottom 90%. An article in Marketing Week from the UK gives a global view of this trend: ‘A New Age of Austerity Hits Pay Packets Hard‘
Where the Money is:
US owned companies compensate these Marketing and Communications roles better than their European counterparts.
Digital natives (those who have worked within online marketing from the beginning of their careers) earn a significant premium in compensation.
High performing employees may be in a great position to negotiate. 70% of companies reported that they were concerned that these high performing employees may leave.
Yes, the economy is difficult. But the anxiety caused by high unemployment numbers is often worsened by media oversaturation. The staggering numbers (8.4 Millions jobs lost since the recession began – Bureau of Labor Statistics) do not provide a perspective on how communication professionals will be effected. While white collar workers did experience some of the wrath of the poor economy, they were not affected to the same degree as those without a bachelor’s degree. Bureau of Labor Statistics Education Pays Graph.
On the bright side:
The Unemployment rate recently fell to under 10%.
In January there were 5.9 job seekers on average competing for each job - a significant decrease from the pervious month
There were 2.5 million job openings in December 2009- a significant increase from November
Even with 14.8 million people out of work, there are an estimated 137 million employed.
A Towers Watson survey released Dec. 2009 states that the number of polled companies that plan to freeze or reduce hiring dropped by half to just 33%. Click here to see the Study
Marketing, creative and communications professions make up only a very small percentage of the total work force and unemployment rates among those ranks are generally much less than the national averages.
In surveying the January job postings for Communications roles several groups were up. For example- Internal Communications increased 9%, Communications Managers increased by 10%.
So take a deep breath and start regrouping for the big surge ahead that will surely follow this economic turmoil. It is time to get back to the hard work – figuring out what you are truly passionate about. Trying to guess the direction of the market, following the hot industries of the moment will never create the foolproof career plan. Being passionate about your chosen path will make you more attractive to employers regardless of which way the current trends are blowing.
Employee vs. Contractor
Temporary employment is becoming the new norm. As companies remain fiscally conservative and credit strapped, they are reluctant to bring on a permanent head count. Marketing, creative and communications departments have had experience with this model for years. This will continue to be a growing trend into 2010 and potentially far beyond. From junior assistants and mid-level specialists to the most senior level strategic directors – contract vs. employee is an important part of the mix. Check out two articles on the subject:
‘Temporary CMOs are Here to Stay – for Six Months or So’ - Brandweek
‘Recruiters See Jobs Pickup in 2010 Despite Concerns’ – Wall Street Journal
As always, I came away from the panel discussion super charged. The talent, dedication, drive and passion these professionals have reminded me why I love this field so much- a big Thank You to the school for inviting Paladin to participate.