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What does 2012 have in store for us?


In truth no one knows. Conversations we’ve had with many of our clients show that 2012 holds a certain unpredictability, which is making many a little nervous. There seem to be a lot of pitches around and enough work for everyone but with the value of accounts becoming smaller and clients not paying agencies on time, we could see a lot change in the next twelve months.

With a recession in 2012 looking increasingly likely, there are certainly challenging times ahead for everyone. We need to take the lessons learnt from the last one and ensure that we do everything we can to tackle the issues we were left facing only 12 months or so back. We have to hope that juniors and entry-level staff aren’t left out in the cold like before and there is continued investment in training and development. Networked agencies are often the first to make key influential decisions and tend to be the first to slow down on recruitment. Sometimes these decisions are made by international offices, which then filter down to UK offices. However, in our experience independent agencies are less likely to follow the crowd - and quite often do the opposite to networked agencies.

To keep the market motivated, we are hoping the big six networks (WPP, Publicis, Interpublic, Havas, Dentsu and Omnicom) won’t put recruitment freezes in place. As they own such a large percentage of the industry, these decisions tend to have a knock-on effect with other businesses.

Last time around we saw agencies dealing with client cut-backs in a number of different ways and we expect much of the same again in 2012. So what does this mean? Some companies will cut all freelancers and hire permanent people. Some companies might cut some of their full-time heads and hire freelancers to cover the extra workload. We also saw a significant number of seniors being made redundant, who then went on to set up their own agencies. In fact, some say there is no better time to start a company than during a recession. Many of those that launched the last time round have enjoyed the fruits of their labour, with many becoming the most desired agencies to work for. For this reason we still think that 2012 will see many new start-ups.

If you are unfortunately made redundant, the key is not to panic. We believe that for every door that closes, another door opens. The best advice we can give people that find themselves out of work - either as a freelancer or full-time - is to be proactive. You have to put yourself out there and take control of your job search. Don’t wait for something to land on your lap; ultimately there will be more people looking for work, than jobs available. If you have experience and friends in the industry, get in touch with them to find out what’s going on in their world. Can they put any contacts/leads your way? If you’re new to the industry, make the most of social media tools such as LinkedIn and Twitter and approach the decision makers of companies you want to work for. Of course recruitment agencies will give you an informed idea of what’s happening in the market and may well be able to help you. If you are a professional freelancer, then consider dropping your rates for a while to stay busy. If you are looking for full-time work, consider temp to perm roles as an option.

Unfortunately, many of those in permanent positions can expect pay or bonus freezes and possibly a reduction in other benefits (and sometimes even hours available for you to work). Unless someone above you leaves and you have the chance for a promotion, then your salary may be staying the same for a while. Don’t be de-motivated by this. See it as an opportunity to continue to prove yourself and your worth. If you can get through a recession and keep your job, you can get through most things that will be thrown your way during your career!

If you aren’t having much luck finding work in the UK maybe you could consider other locations; Amsterdam, Paris, Dubai, Miami, New York, Sydney or Shanghai. There is a big demand abroad for UK talent. If your personal situation allows you to work anywhere, then this might be the time to make the leap and move overseas.

You might also want to think about extra training and qualifications. There is no harm is teaching yourself new skills, no matter what level you are at. It’s not all bad though. The creative market is still forecast to grow next year but the areas of growth are more likely to be mobile, social media, SEO, PPC, affiliate and specialist production.

So to conclude; if you’re currently employed, work hard, stand out and go above and beyond what you would normally do in your job. This should hopefully help you remain that way. If you’re unemployed, be prolific in your approaches, stay positive and use multiple sources to make contact with potential employers.

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