Recruiter Celeste Gudas Says Freelancers Are Happier

They're also in high-demand, says CEO of 24 Seven

Celeste Gudas says this is the year where if you’re working in the marketing business, it’s just understood that you have digital skills. But the founder and CEO of recruitment firm 24 Seven adds that while digital integration is changing the nature of everyone’s job, specific digital job skills remain in big demand from agencies. Gudas, whose firm produces an annual Job Satisfaction and Salary Study, spoke to Adweek about the macro trends shaping recruitment today.

Adweek: What industry jobs are in big demand right now?

Gudas: Well over 50 percent of the jobs we’re placing now, both full-time and freelance, are digital. We’re seeing continued integration of digital into marketing, but at the same time companies are looking for specialists in mobile, e-marketing, social marketing, and community managers. There’s a need for digital strategists, people who really understand how to make it work for clients. Good project managers, who have digital on their resume, are in demand because of the growing project orientation of work. [Also], clients are frequently looking for good team leaders, account management positions. We’re also being asked to find talent from different geographies. New York-based agencies are looking for people from Europe, Asia and South America because with social marketing you can speak on an international basis.

Are there enough people out there with the digital skills that agencies and marketers need?

The talent pool has opened up on lower-level and mid-tier jobs, but the upper-level ranks are challenging because demand is for senior-level talent with digital skills. Schools are doing a better job at preparing graduates for the job market. So, lots of teams just out of school are able to work on mobile marketing as well as anyone who is in the marketplace. At the mid- and lower level, we see a better quality of candidate coming up. At the senior level of management, marketers are really looking to become more integrated, but it’s still very hard to find the right match for clients. It’s evolving too quickly; we’re finding that challenging. That’s why we have so many positions to work on. Everybody is struggling, both on the corporate and agency sides, about how to structure their teams.

What are the biggest changes out there?

We’re finding (overall) digital salaries are increasing more quickly than any other category we survey. We’re also seeing that folks who are digitally savvy know that and they’re coming in with more confidence and can pick the companies and agencies they want to work for. Freelancers are generally happier than non-freelancers about work and life balance and they feel they have more control in their career path than full-time employees. I wouldn’t have thought that. I had a preconceived notion that freelancers would prefer to have a full-time job and that they view freelance as an interim thing. They’re more optimistic about overall job satisfaction and they feel they’re actually getting better training by being able to move around and learn from different teams.

How’s the market for freelancers?

We don’t have enough candidates to fill the freelance demand now for people with the right digital, technology, analytical skills or project management experience. But a lot of that is mid-level. We have a nice group of senior level consultants—they are always in high demand and the market is looking for more freelance at the senior level.

Does the demand for freelance reflect the uncertainty of the current economic climate or is it a fundamental shift in industry hiring trends?