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The Think Tank PR
The Think Tank PR 15 March 2022

Salaries Sky Rocket as Job Seekers Reap Rewards of Covid Comeback

Those working in the marketing and creative industries can now get a glimpse into the next year’s job market following the release of the 2022 salary guide figures from marketing and creative recruiter, Aquent. The data, which has been compiled from 2021 UK placements, has shown that salaries are surging across the board as the economy gets back to its feet and companies engage in the hiring ‘rush’ that has continued to gain momentum since spring of last year.

The 2021 salary data paints a very different picture to the job market seen in 2020 where stagnating wages and looming redundancies were seen throughout most of the advertising and creative industries.

Instead, the recent ‘boom’ in wages is down to a number of factors, including a skills shortage which has resulted in midweight roles pushing for higher salaries. This has created a domino effect, with senior roles following suit, demanding higher rates of pay in turn. 

Companies that have weathered the storm of the pandemic are now back on track and are keen to find top talent to further growth. However, candidates are finding themselves with multiple job offers on the table and so are asking for higher wages to sweeten the deal. 

Aquent also found that in order to make a move, 42% of talent wanted a 16%-30% salary increase before jumping ship. This is in sharp contrast to last year where applicants were willing to accept lower rates and a wider range of responsibilities in order to bag themselves a job.

UX and CX Continue to Call the Shots

In a similar vein to 2020, those working in UX and CX design still hold the ‘golden ticket’ in terms of the most sought-after roles. As hypergrowth is being seen in these sectors, candidates are no longer having to look for jobs, as roles are coming to them.

Aquent found that only 20% of UX, CX and Service Design talent are looking a new role yet 65% would be willing to leave for the right offer.

In terms of wage increases, both junior UX designers and midweight UX designers have seen a jump of up to a third (33%) whilst top end senior UX designers have seen salaries rise by as 50% (£80k to £120k). In some cases, senior UX architects have seen wages double from 60k in 2021 to upwards of £120k in 2022. 

High Demand for Designers and Art Directors

As brands and companies continue their focus on engaging online content, the battle is on to capture the hearts and minds of audiences bombarded by online ads and offers. In response, talented designers and art directors that can cut through the noise are in high demand.

Senior art directors have seen a lift by as much as £15k (21%) whilst salaries for senior digital designers have increased by as much as £20k (44%). This has also trickled down to midweight and junior roles such as junior presentation designers (19%) and midweight presentation designers (11%).

A similar situation has been seen for 3D animators, with a 28% increase for midweight roles (£10k) and 30% increase for senior roles (£15k).

The focus on online content is also paying dividends for copywriters and web editors. Junior web editors have seen increases of up to 9k (25%), midweight 10k (22%) and senior roles 15k (30%). This is promising news given that wages for these roles had in fact dropped during 2021 compared to 2020. 

Understanding the Data 

An area that has seen significant salary growth is the marketing performance sector. Companies looking to gain the edge over competition are now turning to analysts to assess business performance. Data is big business and wage increases are reflecting the demand.

Whilst top-end senior marketing data analysts were earning around £60k in 2021, candidates are now seeing offers as high as £90k, a 50% jump. Junior and midweight search marketing specialists are also reaping the rewards of a changing market, with a 40% increase for junior search marketing specialists and 18% for midweight roles respectively.  

Show Them the Money (And the Flexibility)

As the pandemic presented a wake-up call to many workers, job-seekers are now demanding more from employers.

The Great Resignation has seen a mass exodus of workers as people look for more work/life flexibility and higher wages, forcing employers to bend to the wants and needs of those looking for roles. In a recent study Aquent also found that 83% of employees would turn down a job offer that didn’t offer flexible working for one that does. 

This is a trend that has been gathering pace since 2019 – applicants who ranked career advancement as their number one goal fell from a high of 25% last year to 17% this year, pay and flexibility are now key. This also shows that companies that fail to embrace hybrid working are likely to fall behind when it comes to attracting the best people and skills.

Companies are also having to work harder to retain staff, offering more flexibility. Aquent’s study of global employers found that 94% will be ‘enhancing employee experience over the next three years’.  

The push from midweight roles for higher pay has also impacted the way companies are now hiring junior staff. ‘Entry level’ roles now require a higher level of experience than previously expected and organisations are now looking to upskill hires as a cheaper way to plug skills gaps.

In a tough hiring market, the idea of finding candidates with a ‘70% match’ is also being explored. Business leaders are becoming open to the idea that finding an applicant with a 100% skills match is unlikely but a 70% match with a good working record could become the ideal employee with the relevant training and support.  

‘Drop out’ Pandemic 

To add further complication to the hiring process, employers are also seeing more would-be workers drop out of the interview process. Video calling has opened the door for easier ways of interviewing as meetings can now be carried out from home, meaning applicants are ‘less committed’ than they would be for a face-to-face interview.

In fact, whilst 35% of the workforce are looking for jobs, it’s estimated that 10% of those are ‘passive candidates’ and wouldn’t be willing to move unless it’s for the right offer. 

Aliza Sweiry, UK managing director, Aquent, comments: "The boost in salaries is welcome news for candidates on the look-out for a new role in 2022. The job market has been turned on its head from the situation last year and becoming an ‘employees’ market. As we saw last year, those working in UX and CX design have the skills that employers need at the moment and so have seen big jumps in wages."

"This is a great time for applicants with itchy feet to explore the job market, we’re seeing candidates ‘flex their muscles’ in terms of what they want and expect from a role and employers are responding with higher salaries and more flexible working options. As always, our salary guides always throw up interesting insights and this year has been no different. It will be fascinating to see how the industry responds in 2022."

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