Where to Look if You’re a Job-Seeking Professional in Local

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If you were to rely solely on news reports and government statistics, you would think that the entire job market was stagnant or receding. The overall unemployment rate remains stubbornly high, and monthly job creation remains below what is considered healthy.

But those of us who focus on digital media (and specifically the local search space) have a very different perspective. While we certainly aren’t in a period of explosive hiring, there are many opportunities available, with quite a few companies expanding rapidly — especially those in the loyalty and transaction marketing space, as well as those providing online solutions for small and medium businesses. Whether this growth is temporal or long-lasting remains to be seen; there has been a tremendous influx of venture capital into this sector, but it is too early to tell whether the revenue numbers will match the enthusiasm.

Where the Jobs Are
Companies in the loyalty and transaction marketing space are expanding their staffs. In particular, those tied into the banking sector see a unique opportunity for success and are staffing up accordingly. Companies like Cardlytics, ScoutMob, Coupons.com and Belly among others all have robust job listings on their websites with many openings in different areas.

Based on our conversations with presidents and CEOs and other data we track in the marketplace, we have seen a strong demand in two key areas: sales and technology. Companies continue to build up both inside, outside and national sales forces across the country. On the technology front, if you have experience with a consumer driven web company, you know how robust the job market currently is for people with your skill set.

Companies that are focused on providing online solutions for small and medium businesses also are growing at a rapid clip. One such example is Deluxe Corporation, which has built a brand new campus in Charlotte, hiring dozens of sales, marketing and account management professionals in recent months. Other companies with similar offerings are also adding sales professionals in strong numbers.

Where the Jobs Aren’t
As these areas expand, traditional media, including yellow pages and newspapers, are of course shrinking. The standard bearers have made a noble push to online, mobile, and other leading edge products, but the masthead of print continues its rapid erosion as their historically reliable advertising and audience base goes elsewhere. Not surprisingly, our office has seen and heard about a huge uptick in resumes from professionals in both categories across position lines. Whether these individuals can cross over into pure new media companies is a topic for another article.

While both yellow pages and newspapers will likely be around for many more years, they have both aggressively cut staff sizes, reducing the number of sales offices, eliminating positions and ultimately doing what needs to be done to preserve the bottom line. Companies like Yellow Book and Dex are among those that have made some tough decisions in recent months, reducing headcount in many offices. For professionals in traditional media, it is a very unsettling time, with hiring limited almost exclusively to refilling positions, not due to expansion or growth

Going ‘Sideways’
Almost every other part of the local community falls into the “sideways” category, with some companies optimistically adding staff while others are retrenching, hiring in a much more cautious manner. Some executives cite concerns around economic policy, others cite consumer demand as an issue, while others cite difficulty with revenue collection. Agencies, suppliers and daily deals companies most accurately fall into this camp. While deals sites were job-creating machines just a few quarters ago, most notably Groupon and Living Social, most if not all have pulled back, often shuttering plans to open up new sales offices or corporate locations. These companies for the most part are still adding to staff, but in a much less robust manner than in years past. We hear that Groupon in particular has shuttered plans to add to headcount in the months to come.

So if you are on the job market in the local search space where does this leave you? If you are a sales professional, either at a small and medium business level or at an enterprise level, the job market for you is solid. Most companies we know, even if they don’t have advertised listings would consider adding a proven industry professional if that opportunity presented itself. If you are a sales management professional, however, there are fewer seats available than in previous years. Further on the down side, companies are much less likely to provide meaningful relocation packages, and the competition for most of these positions is fierce.

If you are a technology professional, there is a good chance that multiple companies will be knocking on your door. We are seeing high demand for developers, and we have seen an uptick in searches for high level technology leadership roles nationally in recent months.

For all other positions, including marketing, accounting, client service and others, the waters are a bit murkier. There certainly are opportunities available, but not at the number you typically see in a high-growth environment.

Looking into a crystal ball we see a job market in the local space that continues to outpace the general economy. While certain parts of the industry are in much better shape to add to staff, the overall outlook is strong.

The only certainty in today’s job market, however, is uncertainty. Things evolve on nearly a daily basis as companies decide to either add to staff, or just as likely, to shutter existing hiring requisitions. The key is to be as well networked as possible, and to do as much research into your potential new company as possible before making a change.

Got a question about the job market? Send it to Robert Hawthorne and he’ll answer it in this column.

Robert Hawthorne has been a leading recruiter in the digital space for well over a decade.  During that time he has focused heavily on the local market place, working with companies across the globe. His firm, Hawthorne Search, has placed over a thousand professionals in the local search space, ranging from senior executives to field sales and marketing talent.