Market Watch

by Gaby Gramont

What D.C. Marketing and Communications Job Seekers Can Expect in Today’s Economy

As one of the Washington area’s leading marketing and communications search and staffing firms, TorchLight’s experienced recruiters are frequently asked by hiring managers and job candidates alike: “So, how’s the market these days?” After all, we talk to countless hiring managers and professionals day in and day out and have a unique pulse on the state of the industry.

Our answer isn’t as clear cut as you might suppose. In fact, we might answer: “It depends!”

By many measures, the economy continues to improve, companies are investing and hiring again, and the Washington, D.C., marketplace remains steady.

While the regional economy has fared better than many other parts of the country, here in Washington, D.C., we’re still feeling the effects of a relatively flat new economy. The improving economy means that hiring is on the rise once more, but companies are more cautious about resource allocation and more discerning about hiring.

Here’s where job seekers in 2015 will particularly continue to notice the after-effects of the recession:

  1. Salaries are still essentially frozen—though some are slowly inching up.
    In a flat economy, it should come as no surprise that salaries are remaining flat as well. Salary increases and bonuses are few and far between right now. This is true across industries—trade associations, nonprofits and publicly held companies.
  2. Contractor rates are down.
    Across the board, companies are no longer willing to pay premium rates for contractors. One reason for this is that in down or recovering economies, more professionals who might otherwise have preferred full-time employment or whose jobs were eliminated turn to contracting as a way to keep working while riding out the recession. The more contractors waiting in the wings, the more competitive the marketplace—and the more competition among contractors, the more employers are in a position to set the terms.
  3. Employers won’t tolerate demands.
    There may have been a time—if ever briefly during DC’s short-lived tech boom—when marketing and communications professionals were in such hot demand that job candidates could essentially write their own ticket to employment. Those days are long gone. For most professionals, it’s only the stuff of legend, not reality.Every so often, we may encounter a candidate whose experience is so stunning, and whose skill set is so specialized and unique, that a company will go to any length to make the hire. But, this is very, very rare—virtually unheard of.

No matter how solid your skills, no matter how wonderful you are, the reality is that an employer just won’t get into a bidding war for talent in today’s economy. They don’t have to—there are plenty of good candidates to go around. There may be some room for negotiation, within reason, but generally expect to be handed a fair, competitive offer from the start and don’t expect to haggle your way to riches.

With these current trends in mind, here’s our advice to job seekers:

  • Manage your expectations.
    A list of demands won’t get you far; in fact, it could even work against you if a potential employer perceives that you are inflexible, self-involved or unrealistic. It’s one thing to ask for what you want; it’s another to insist on it. Don’t be discounted because you come across like a diva.
  • Be flexible.
    Sure, most employees want some level of flexibility in their daily lives. And savvy employers offer it, to the extent they can. But understand that many employers have very sound business reasons why they can’t offer unlimited or unchecked flexibility. By the same token, you will likewise need to be flexible and make some adjustments and concessions.
  • Be fair.
    Understand that the best, most productive and most successful employer/employee relationships are those based on mutual respect and fairness. As a job seeker, the Golden Rule applies: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
  • Keep an open mind.
    Sometimes the best companies and the best colleagues to work for are hidden gems. The “next big thing” may be a company that’s currently not a household name. The more you keep your mind open when exploring opportunities, the more likely you’ll eventually find the right fit. Not every dream job falls from the clouds; most are built from the ground up.

By keeping these marketplace realities in mind—and by following these tips to help you stay focused, positive and professional—we are more likely to match you with the right job, with the right employer, for mutual success, no matter what the current market conditions.

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Want to discuss the job market even further? Our team of experienced recruiters and trend watchers are prepared to guide you through hiring challenges, help you identify job opportunities, and get you on track for a successful 2015! Contact TorchLight today! &

Posted in Hiring TrendsJob Search Tips