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Is your new Marketing hire likely to stay for less time than a Premier League Manager?

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Gone are the days where a decade or two’s service with the same business is viewed positively in the job market. Sadly, loyalty is no longer held in as higher regard. Times have changed. What dynamic businesses want in today’s ever changing marketing and digital landscape is a candidate who can demonstrate their ability to excel in different channels, businesses and industries. What candidates want is to see progression and variety in what they do. It has increasingly become an accepted way for a Marketer to build a career by frequently changing roles, so we thought we’d ask our candidates, clients and followers what their attitudes are to length of service. The survey uncovered some interesting results:

Question 1 – How long have you been in your current full time role?

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Amazingly, only 13% of respondents had been in their current role for 4 years or more! Although I’m sure the social media channels where we posted the survey have skewed the age and results of the respondents slightly, it’s also a real eye opener to see that 60% of people had been in a role for 2 years or less.

I can’t think of many other types of career where such a short tenure is so typical. We’re not quite taking over Premier League Managers just yet, but the Marketing version of Sir Alex Ferguson is certainly a rarity.

Question 2 – How long were you in your previous role?

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The combination of the first (time in current role) and second question (time in previous role) builds a picture of a hugely transient labour market for Marketing professionals. It is apparent that there seems to be a 3 year itch, with a huge 83% of respondents only staying in their previous role for that period or less.

The evidence from the first two questions highlights a problem for businesses and hiring managers who need to recruit and retain their best marketing professionals. How can a manager/company plan future marketing strategies if they know that their key marketing staff won’t be there to see it through? 

Question 3 -How long is the longest you have stayed in a full time marketing role?

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In question 3 we asked ‘How long is the longest you have stayed in a full time marketing role?’ And yet again around 70% of respondents hadn’t stayed in one role for longer than 3 years. This supports the first two questions and builds a picture of promiscuous Marketers who look to move roles frequently to build their career. 

Question 4 – Do you think it is harmful to stay in the same role for too long?

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Following the factual based questions where we asked respondents about their length of tenure, we thought it would be interesting to look at some attitudinal themes. What do Marketers actually think about longevity in a role? And is it harmful to stay in a role too long?

It is of no surprise that 70% of respondents believe that staying in the same role for too long is harmful for their career. With only 30% disagreeing.

Question 5: How long is too long in the same role?

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In the final question we asked ‘How long is too long in the same role?’ and an astonishing 90% of people who we surveyed thought that over 3 years in the same role could actually be too long and potentially damaging for their career.


So what does this mean for the marketing sector? Marketing is inherently a creative sector to work within, and the opportunity to work on new brands, different campaigns in new businesses and sectors is what some marketers feel they need to keep themselves stimulated and not get stale.

However, even as a recruiter in this sector for over 10 years it is still a surprise to me to see some of the stats and attitudes in this survey. The majority of marketing professionals spend less than 3 years in a job and believe that to spend any more than that may be harmful to their development.

It builds a picture of the marketing and digital labour market where only the firms who offer their staff the best development, and truly make an effort on the staff engagement front will be able to buck the trend.

The best companies allow candidates to develop a broad skill set by moving across channels, products and brands. Offering them the opportunity to take qualifications such as the CIM (and take the opportunity to tie them in for a period afterwards) and other industry related training. In turn this also makes them more attractive to potential employers and to head-hunters, so the less tangible aspects such as company culture and creating a happy and stimulating work environment become more important if you want to maximise staff retention.

I think there are a lot of big brands in the North West who don’t really grasp the importance of that. Spending time and money on your offices, team building activities and events, company culture and values and staff development should not be seen as an expense but a necessity that will increase productivity and ultimately save money on recruitment and replacing talent!

Stephen Thompson is the Managing Director of Forward Role and has recruited Digital, Analytics, Marketing and Creative people in the North West for over a decade. He has advised a number of large North West clients this year on their engagement and remuneration strategies, to help them not only target the best talent for their business but also retain them.  For a selection of the latest jobs in the region please visit www.forwardrolerecruitment.co.uk or you can follow Steve on twitter @ForwardRole_Ste