Recruitment Review

By The Drum | Administrator

January 15, 2004 | 10 min read

Jill Gilchrist of Quantum Marketing Recruitment, Linda PArk of ID Recruitment and Pat Kelly of Scottish Appointments.

In terms of direction, the Scottish marketing sector of the past couple of years has borne a distinct resemblance to a racetrack, with more dangerous twists and sharp turns than Brands Hatch on a rainy day.

With companies closing down, others starting up, some cutting staff while others struggle to maintain business it’s been, at times, a dizzying ride.

While this has obviously left many on both the agency and client side nervous about their companies, their jobs and the industry in general, it’s also had a knock-on effect elsewhere. With the job situation in the marketing industry unstable at best, the recruitment sector has been, to an extent, an unwilling passenger.

However, with the marketing industry showing signs of picking itself up, has the recruitment industry also benefited? And what do the professionals within the sector think lies ahead?

Ask anybody working within the marketing industry in Scotland what 2003 was like for them and the answers will usually range between “mixed” and “bloody awful”. In the recruitment world, the opinions aren’t much different.

Marisa Carrol, principal consultant at Denholm Associates, says: “Last year market conditions were tough, which I think everyone will say. Having said that, though, we definitely saw an increase in the latter half of the year. That’s been a sign both of the market picking up and our market share increasing.”

Jill Gilchrist, director at Quantum Recruitment, agrees that things were a little mixed in the marketing recruitment sector last year. She states: “2003 was still a difficult year for marketing recruitment because most client-side companies were making redundancies and agency-side, with a few exceptions, were holding back. I think there has been a number of new client wins now, though, and that has led to the recruitment of both account handling and creative staff.”

Meanwhile, ID Recruitment found that, though the agency side of the business was having problems, the client side of the marketing fence was actually still active on the recruitment side.

“We found it was very divided last year between agency and client side,” says Park. “The agency side last year was not buoyant, but the client side ticked over and got better at the end of the year. It was definitely a lot more split than previous years.”

Elsewhere, the recruitment sector was more bullish in 2003. Recruitment website S1 Jobs had no complaints about the number of companies and candidates using its service last year. Assistant brand manager David Craik comments: “With job seekers continuing to embrace the internet, S1 Jobs in fact had a bumper 12 months, with traffic levels at the end of the year almost double what they had been at the outset, record turnover, and 15, 000 candidates registering with our CV database.”

The opinion about the following twelve months certainly seems to be optimistic. The Scottish marketing industry has made a pit stop and, after a period of re-fuelling and a tyre change, seems ready to move forward. Part of this, hope the recruitment consultancies, will be the creation of more jobs. More jobs means more choice, and more choice means people moving around between companies.

“I think people have been running on low petrol for 2003,” says Gilchrist. “But now they do have to service the new clients and get people in to do that. I think there is going to be an upturn. We’ve even seen it a bit towards the end of last year, which was really busy for us and which is traditionally a quiet time for recruitment.

“I think the volume will go up as people have the confidence to move jobs again. The main problem with a recession is that people are more conscious of their mortgage and debts and so stay in a job even if they hate it. I think when people are more confident about the economy they get the confidence to move their job.”

Pat Kelly, managing director of, agrees that this year will see more people in the marketing industry changing their jobs. He says: “I think it’s always the way with advertising and marketing that when times are tough people tend to look at cutting them back. I think we will see more people changing jobs this year. As the market’s been tough certain companies have suffered, and I think now things are picking up people will look to move about again.”

Park, however, believes that agency recruitment may continue to lag behind for the time being. The growth, she says, will be in Scotland’s marketing departments. She remarks: “I’m not convinced that the agency side will pick up quickly, there are a lot more client wins that have to be made first. But on the client side there are a lot more jobs cropping up. Hopefully, that will continue.

“Generally, I think there will be a change this year. It’s industry specific in terms of how things will change, though. I think marketing companies are tightening their belts. Our perception is that they are making more use of their in-house people rather than going to agencies.”

With the industry picking up and more Scottish marketing jobs, hopefully, on the way, there is still a question of who will fill these new vacancies. Will this year see a mass change of jobs between companies in Scotland, or will there be an influx of new recruits from down south?

Carroll believes the latter is most likely. She says: “We do believe this year will be busier than last year. High-calibre candidates are more difficult to find, but with Scotland becoming a more desirable place to live we’re finding it easier.

“I think we will begin to see more candidates coming from down south this year. Obviously, when these Scottish companies look to recruit they will look locally but as the market here becomes more saturated they will begin to look further afield. That’s what we always try to do for our clients, to get something a bit different.”

The London marketplace has been slow to recover from the effects of post 9/11 cutbacks, and subsequently more people are beginning to eye northern pastures as preferable places to live and work. Park points out: “We’ve seen a lot of people from London wanting to move back up here. London’s a place to go to make money. If there’s no money to be made then why stay there?”

Additional jobs alone may not be the only advantages for the recruitment sector this year, however. The past two years have been tough on the marketing industry as a whole. But yet the recruitment industry has kept its head above water. This has been both because of consultancies operating in more sectors than marketing alone and also a newer, more client-focused approach to the business. Gilchrist believes this will continue going forward. She comments: “The absolute only reason we’ve been able to weather the storm is that we’re on regular clients’ lists. Their value has dropped but what it has done has been to encourage us to put a lot more emphasis on client service. What we’ve done is identify who the top people are and spent a lot of time nurturing these clients.

“I think the way we are with our clients is different than it used to be. It has to do with more competition and fewer jobs. In a way, it’s been a good thing for the industry because it’s allowed a few agencies to come out as specialists in the marketing industry while others have moved on to other areas.”

With a more client-focused approach and more jobs on offer, it is hoped that the Scottish marketing recruitment sector will, along with the rest of the Scottish marketing industry, find itself in good shape to tackle the next 12 laps of the track.

Job Hunters advisory

ïResearch: Before you consider sending your CV anywhere, you need to know what sort of job you would like (and why); what skills & experience you will require and what sort of company you would like to work for. This will narrow down your “wish list”.

ïRealistic: You should have a clear understanding of what your core competencies are & also your limitations. For instance, a recent graduate with six months' experience is not going to walk into a Senior Marketing position. If you're considering a complete change in career direction, it's fair to say retraining, even further education, will be required.

ïRercruitment Consultancy: Love them or hate them, this is probably the most effective way to find a new job. You should choose a marketing specialist recruitment consultancy who will be able to realistically advise you on all of the above. A good consultant should be able to identify your key strengths and translate this into new job opportunities – or advise you on a different course of action! With knowledge of serveral industries, they will be able to identify employment areas of growth or areas to avoid.

Jill Gilchrist

Director, Quantum Marketing Recruitment

ïFirst and foremost pull together a strong CV. The best format is one which is bullet pointed in order to make it more punchy, outlining dates, job titles, companies worked for including responsibilities, but also achievements! For example, budgets and campaigns managed along with the results, and if agency side, accounts worked on.

ïThe next step should involve a combination of routes, which are register with a recruitment consultancy who specialise in your field and who have a credible reputation. It works best to keep the number of agencies you register to a minimum in order to keep track of your CV. Use your own contacts within the industry and attend key industry events where you can network. Remember the more people you meet the higher your chance of finding a new role! Keep a close eye on the national and trade press and also websites for job leads e.g. companies expanding that you can write speculatively too. You should always aim for the decision maker, for example, marketing director or HR director when writing to companies and follow up 5-7 days later.

ïFinding a new role will not happen overnight so patience is important. If you know what you want your next role to be, then you're a third there already!

Marissa Carroll

Principal Consultant, Denholm Associates


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +