The State of Creative Hiring + Takeaways for Employees and Managers

By Cristina de la Cruz | The Creative Group

Whether you’re an employee wanting to advance your career or a manager wanting to build a high-performing team, it’s important to be aware of job market trends — and understand how they’ll impact your goals. The Creative Group’s latest State of Creative Hiring report spotlights some of the biggest trends the creative field will see in the coming months. Learn how they’ll affect both employers and employees, so you can optimize your hiring strategy or career plan.


The hiring outlook in numbers

Of the advertising and marketing leaders polled for the State of Creative Hiring report, 67% plan to add more full-time positions to round out their current teams. On top of that, 69% anticipate increasing the number of freelancers on their staff.

The problem is, a whopping 86% of managers say it’s challenging to find skilled creative and marketing professionals. Also worrisome is the job managers have of ensuring existing workers stay. Sixty-one percent say retaining top talent is more difficult today than it was a year ago. They indicated that mid-level professionals with three to eight years’ experience have the highest turnover rates.


Hot hiring areas

The research shows that digital design skills are in demand. Here are the top areas that advertising and marketing leaders plan to add new staff in the new year:

1. Web and mobile development
2. User experience
3. User interface and interaction design
4. Creative development
5. Web production


Desirable skill sets

Industry leaders report that the top three skills they have the most urgent demand for are:

1. Digital strategy 30%
2. Content creation and content marketing 29% (tie)
2. Social media management 29% (tie)

Other immediately needed technical abilities following close behind include experience with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning; data science, data analysis and A/B testing; and UI design. Advertising and marketing leaders expect their teams to also have outstanding soft skills. The three ranked as most important are: creativity, collaboration and problem-solving.

Takeaways for employers

The ongoing talent shortage means you’ll continue to see stiff competition for the most skilled candidates in the first half of the year, especially in the San Francisco/Bay Area. To attract and retain outstanding creative teams, your compensation needs to equal or slightly exceed what other firms are paying their professionals. You can benchmark salaries in your area by consulting The Creative Group 2020 Salary Guide. To be competitive, compensation should include incentives like signing or retention bonuses, as well as perks like flexible scheduling options, employee wellness programs and career advancement opportunities.

In the current market, it’s also a wise idea to invest in and promote the professional development and upskilling for your existing teams. In an earlier study of workplace happiness, we found that creative professionals are happiest in their jobs when they are doing worthwhile, interesting work and feel appreciated for their contributions. Providing new opportunities for growth and supporting their professional development can help your team feel engaged and valued in their roles. Not only will this help address your staff’s skills gaps, but it can also improve retention among employees who feel bored or are on the verge of burnout.

Takeaways for job seekers and employees

The odds are stacked in your favor when it comes to finding a new job and negotiating salaries or pay raises in the creative industry. This is especially true if you’re experienced in one of the in-demand positions outlined above or are proficient in the skills companies so urgently need. In a recent survey, only 55% of professionals reported that they had negotiated pay with their last job offer. This is the time you should be negotiating as in-demand workers have more bargaining power.

But high demand doesn’t mean hiring managers will settle for less-than-stellar applicants, so you still have to impress in your portfolio and interview. Leaders reported during our research that many of their existing employees as well as job candidates they’ve seen lack adaptability, collaborative abilities, curiosity and eagerness to learn, and business acumen. If you can make your prowess in these areas evident to employers, you’ll be a step ahead of your competition. In addition to showcasing your skills and experience, you will want to demonstrate your soft skills in communication, collaboration and problem-solving to make a bigger impact through the work that you do.


Whether you’re pondering a career move or streamlining your staffing strategy, preparation is key. Keep up with industry trends to ensure you have a successful 2020.