Q&A with Grace Eldridge, Business Manager - Marketing, Communications & Digital, Hays Middle East
1. What has changed / what trends have you seen within the field of marketing in the last 12 months?
Hiring activity within the marketing and communications profession has been steady over the past 12 months. The most sought after marketing professionals remain to be those with multichannel, digital expertise. This includes individuals who specialise in end-to-end customer-centric campaigns and who are competent in setting, implementing and fulfilling marketing strategies, in line with business objectives.
Digitally, organisations in the UAE had been concentrating on the transformation of their internal IT functions as an initial phasing of digitalisation however, this is now moving right across the business, incorporating all departments not least marketing. Organisations' online presence through social media and websites, as well as the personalisation of services and products, is now driving the requirement for digital marketing skillsets that have not previously been in demand. Now at the forefront of hiring plans are multi-channel marketing professionals with added eCommerce, CRM and insights experience.
In terms of working patterns we have seen flexible working to be on the rise. Many organisation are moving away from traditional and fixed 9am-5pm contracts and instead offering more flexibility by way of remote working and flexi time. I have seen this particularly with Abu Dhabi based employers who are becoming more open to recruiting candidates from Dubai, allowing them work from home for a number of days per week.
2. What industries / company types are the busiest with hiring of marketing professionals?
Different industries have faced different challenges across the GCC over the past 12 months, much the same as is being seen globally. The busiest areas for the recruitment of marketing professionals include the technology industry, financial and professional services firms, as well as government subsidiaries. In contrast, the construction, property and retail industries have all faced particularly tough trading conditions in recent months and consequently we have noticed there to be a reduction in the number of new roles available to marketing and communications professionals within these. Instead, employers have been restricting spend on additional headcount and focusing on maximising the productivity of their existing employees.
Positively, perceptions of marketing and its relative impact on organisational success is changing across all industries. Historically it had been considered a ‘nice to have’ function but which one which was typically first to be cut when company budgets were restricted. Now however, we are noticing marketing and communications teams to be taking a more proactive and involved role amongst leadership teams as boards realise the importance of marketing activity for the success of the business. As such the presence of marketing and communications professionals remains strong across all sectors.
3. What job roles, skills and expertise are most in demand in relation to Marketing in the UAE?
Across the world digital marketing is where the industry is evolving to. The UAE has perhaps been slightly behind in the adoption of this however, over the past two years this has changed, with a number of digital roles and related expertise proving to be high in demand. CRM and Social Media specialists, website specialists and also those with skillsets related to analytics and insights are now common place in many teams in the UAE. These have replaced the demand for purely traditional skillsets, responsible for Below The Line (BTL), Out-of-Home (OOH) and Point of Sale (PoS) marketing.
In terms of the near future we anticipate there to be an increase in eCommerce as organisations move away from purely bricks and mortar businesses to compete with the global online giants, including the likes of Amazon and ASOS to name just two.
4. Have there been any recent changes to salaries for Marketing professionals?
Throughout the GCC, salaries have remained more-or-less the same over the past 12 months and we anticipate this to continue throughout the year. Board-level marketing professionals and digital marketing specialists – with skills related to eCommerce, CRM and insights mentioned above, are commanding the highest pay rates. This is owing to the niche expertise they possess and proven capability they have for supporting the fulfilment of business objectives in this competitive digital landscape.
In contrast, the more junior end of the market is inundated with candidates, all of similar skills and abilities – we see new job seekers arriving every day with ambitions to work and live in the UAE, drawn by the tax free salaries. As such, employers are able to offer lower salaries as there is no shortage of job seekers who will agree to a basic salary in order to secure a role in the competitive job market.
Interestingly and based on the findings from our Hays 2019 GCC Salary & Employment Report, pay rises for marketing professionals in 2018 were more commonly down to internal promotions, rather than starting a new job with a new firm. Thus investing in your career at your current firm may well be the best way to secure a salary increase in 2019, rather than switching employer.
5. What would be your advice to employers looking to hire Marketing talent in UAE?
Findings from Hays 2019 GCC Salary & Employment Report found ‘organisational culture’, ‘lack of future opportunities’ and ‘salary’ to be the top three most important reasons why professionals will look for a new employer in 2019. This, along with our insights from working with many job seekers in the region, supports the importance of the overall employment offering made by organisations in order to secure top marketing talent in the region. Remuneration will always be important however, companies must take time to consider what other factors make them stand out from the crowd as an employer of choice.
In addition, being proactive and acting fast will enable organisations to secure the very best talent ahead of the competition. Digitally focused roles are high in demand and also subject to counter offers from other employers so the more efficient the hiring process, the more likely you are to secure your preferred candidate. You will still need to be prepared to pay competitive salaries for the more niche roles, especially when looking to recruit from the global talent market.
6. What advice would you give to Marketing professionals looking for new job opportunities in the UAE?
The UAE and wider GCC is a very competitive region for candidates, especially within marketing and communications profession, as there exists a huge volume of job seekers all competing for a limited number of roles.
If you are considering a move it is worth doing your research on the market and specifically your industry to understand what your worth is in terms of salary and also how to stand out from the crowd. When you are writing your CV, ensure that you have clear examples of your past successes and achievements, which enables a prospective employer to pick out your strengths and understand the value you will add to their organisation. Additionally, employers favour candidates who show initiative and are proactive with regards to their professional development and upskilling. If you are lacking in certain skills, particularly digital ones, you should take the time to invest in your own development by looking at courses or networks that will further your capabilities within these.
As a marketer you should also be aware of your personal brand and how you present yourself across different platforms. Social media profiles, particularly LinkedIn, are often a main point of reference for prospective employers and you should therefore ensure that you have an up to date professional profile which includes a recent picture and comprehensive overview of your key achievements and responsibilities for each role to date. Finally, be mindful that job searching can be tough and time consuming. Be patient and connect with as many relevant industry experts as possible. They will be able to provide advice, help tailor your job search and put you in touch with the right people / employers to further your career.
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