Forget software developers, nurses and physical therapists. The hottest job in the U.S.—at least for college-educated people—is marketing executive, according to job-search site Careerbuilder.
It may be hard to believe. The marketing industry has in recent years been regularly stung by comedy-show parody, consumers who avidly try to avoid advertising—and the self-loathing that goes along with those things. But someone loves marketers. Employers literally can't get enough of them.
Careerbuilder, working with Economic Modeling Specialists International, found more than 34,600 unduplicated average monthly job postings and only 11,600 jobs filled for marketing executives in 2014 (see chart below). The gap of 23,000 between those numbers was more than any other position requiring a college degree (truck drivers win the overall rankings). EMSI found the ranks of marketing executives have grown by 10% since 2010 to more than 192,200, with a median income of $119,000 annually.
The trend comes despite headcount reductions by some of the biggest advertisers in recent years. Procter & Gamble alone has cut non-manufacturing jobs, including marketers, 22% since 2012, and still isn't done. Unilever has also been thinning its marketing ranks in waves since 2009, most recently last year.
Seemingly, marketers taking exit packages at such companies should then have no trouble finding jobs, but recruiters say a somewhat harsher reality underlies the numbers. One reason for the gap between postings and hires is that employers aren't necessarily finding what they want in the market.
"There is a heightened demand" for marketers, said Carlos Cata, managing partner of recruiting firm CT Partners, "but it depends on the segment." Demand has been high from financial services, health care, tech and retail, particularly e-commerce. CT Partners last year found in an analysis of the firm's placements that compensation for marketers had gone up between 18% and 25% in the last year, Mr. Cata said. But the salaries are selective.
"People who are commanding that premium are those marketing leaders who have a demonstrated savvy around tech platforms and the ability to bring new solutions and digital maturity," he said. "The traditional, classic brand marketing, traditional media approaches aren't commanding that."
Analytics and data skills, even in general-marketing roles, are becoming more prized, he said. The growing demand to harness data generated by everything from automobiles to wearable personal technologies for marketing purposes will only keep driving that.
Cincinnati-based recruiter David Wiser acknowledged the market has improved in the past year. But he's not sure how much industry hiring really takes place through online job postings as opposed to through recruiters and LinkedIn searches. And while he said a stint at an "academy" marketer such as P&G, Kraft or Pepsico still carries weight, it's not enough.
"Unless you've found a way to broaden yourself" within more conventional marketers, candidates from the traditional academy companies generally need a second stop with more CRM or digital experience to appeal to a broader range of companies, he said.
Even so, tech, e-commerce and digital-media players—the last looking to tap big ad budgets—have been hungry for CPG marketers. Pinterest named longtime Unilever personal-care marketer David Rubin as chief marketing officer last year. Samsung Mobile USA tapped longtime P&G marketing executive Vince Hudson as its VP-marketing and operations. Amazon brought on longtime P&G manager Sunny Jain to run its growing consumer packaged-goods business last year.
A CPG marketer who has also had e-commerce experience is a particularly prized commodity right now, Mr. Cata said. Case in point: Adam Weber, a former P&G marketer who, after a stop at Gilt, became VP-consumer marketing at Dollar Shave Club in 2013 and helped lead that fast-growing brand's aggressive growth through Facebook advertising.