Ad agencies begin to staff up in '04

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As graduates pound the pavement this summer looking for jobs in advertising, they will find more opportunities than in the past few years, thanks to the economic upswing and a consequent increase in hiring.

TalentZoo, an Atlanta-based recruiting firm that specializes in the advertising industry, reports a job opening increase of 62% this year over last year. TalentZoo recruits online and through traditional executive search methods.

"The good news for the ad industry as a whole is that clients are increasing and releasing budgets, and they’re ready to spend again. So it’s time for agencies to staff back up," said Amy Hoover, VP of TalentZoo.

Hoover said entry-level jobs are spread fairly evenly across ad disciplines, although there is an increased focus on media and interactive jobs. "Media has become such a more prominent focus with advertisers, and agencies have been challenged to do more with less," Hoover said. "There is a major lack of media talent available in general at any level."

Interactive jobs make comeback

Hoover said interactive jobs are also making a comeback this year. "Online was rather taboo after the dot-com crash," she said.

Online and interactive jobs have seen a resurgence in the past six months as clients spend more on interactive advertising, Hoover said.

Applicants for entry-level jobs across all areas of advertising can expect salaries of $25,000 to $30,000 a year, depending on the market, according to TalentZoo’s salary monitor.

Beyond entry-level jobs, other hot areas in advertising are media planning—specifically, online media planning, Hoover said.

HSR Business to Business has been on a hiring spree this year as it staffs up a new Chicago office and expands
capabilities in its Cincinnati headquarters. Rick Segal, chairman-CEO of HSR, said he spends about 25% of his time recruiting and interviewing job applicants.

The agency is now hiring entry- as well as mid-level and senior management positions.

For entry-level jobs, HSR hires people in the four main disciplines it serves: creative, account services, PR and Internet. The agency previously had a paid internship program, but it discontinued that during the downturn, Segal said. However, some interns volunteered to work without pay, and a few of those positions led to full-time jobs, he said.

"The worldview has changed during the past six years," Segal said, referring to the career ambitions of young people. "The euphoria of 1998 to 2001 turned to a tough economic cycle and a country at war," he said, noting that this created a more entrepreneurial approach among job seekers.

"We are probably much more willing to look at someone who has created a faux portfolio, even though they may not have had an opportunity to be in the marketplace," he said.

Pro-bono work and work done for volunteer organizations also adds weight to job applicants’ portfolios, Segal added.

In addition to entry-level positions, HSR is actively hiring in the areas of client service, client service support, PR, user-interface design, Internet, research and analytics.

Actively hiring

Siegel & Gale, a New York-based brand consultancy and marketing communications agency, is also hiring more employees this year in several disciplines.

Linda Cornelius, managing director of Siegel & Gale, New York, said hiring is up about 10% over last year.

She said the economic upswing has created more business, so the agency is staffing up to meet the growing demand. "For the last few years, people have seen investments in brands as more discretionary," Cornelius said. "We are seeing a real interest in our services again."

Siegel & Gale has a formal recruitment program with Carnegie Mellon University, and it also has an internship program for students interested in creative and design work.

It is actively hiring in the areas of consulting, project management, implementation, design and interactive.

Cornelius said a new job area that has opened up is information mapping. "This is taking very dense information and designing it and portraying it in a way that allows decision-makers to see patterns and make decisions," she said.

Skills for this type of job include information design and information architecture, as well as an understanding of how information flows on the Web, Cornelius said.

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