Despite Cutbacks in Marketing, Big Companies Keep Hiring

Unilever, P&G Seek Specialists With Digital, Social-Media Savvy

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As big marketers such as Unilever and Procter & Gamble Co. trim their marketing ranks, they're also hiring.

So what are they looking for? New blood, for one. Despite the cuts they're still recruiting junior managers, even in the slower-growing U.S.

On online job site Indeed, ads for "brand manager" were up 10% in November from a year ago, while jobs for "assistant brand manager" soared more than 10-fold. Postings for "marketing director" fell more than 30%.

Hiring amid downsizing isn't a new phenomenon. Former P&G Chairman-CEO Ed Artzt did the same thing two decades ago, said former P&G Global Marketing Officer Jim Stengel, now a consultant. But he said companies now are hiring for specific skills they believe will promote growth—such as content development or marketing analytics. Recruiters and marketers say they're seeking specialists, and in some cases generalists, who can handle digital and social-media, e-commerce, direct and customer-relationship marketing, market research and analytics and shopper marketing.

"As we are digitalizing the organization, it's key to find the right experts in strategic areas and categories that will help us bring in expertise quickly," said L'Oréal Global Chief Marketing Officer Marc Speichert.

Even generalists need to be digital and social-media savvy, said Dick Satterfield, principal in the Cincinnati recruiting firm Satterfield Renzenbrink Associates. That doesn't mean knowing how to write code, but it does mean being conversant in technology and having the skills to find digital agencies or marketing tech firms needed to do a job. "Marketers must be focused on how to develop their businesses across multiple channels, specifically new commerce models and ways of transacting," said Ethelbert Williams, a P&G, L'Oréal and Unilever veteran who earlier this year became global director-integrated marketing at Kimberly-Clark Corp.

Companies are adding marketers with e-commerce experience, even in packaged-goods where that's historically been a small business. And all types of marketers are looking for direct and customer-relationship marketing experience, said Cincinnati recruiter David Wiser, principal of Wiser Partners. "When the economy is relatively soft, you have to grow by keeping what you have, so that CRM capability is increasingly critical."

That doesn't mean classically trained CPG marketers will be out of work—especially if they can learn new skills. Seventh Generation Chief Marketing Officer Joey Bergstein said his company has been hiring marketers with e-commerce, database marketing and social-media experience. But he mainly wants leadership, creative flair and the ability to develop plans that "rock regardless of spend or media choice" and "translate data into big insights and big insights into an action plan."