Stagnant pay and flexible work forecast for Middle East PR professionals

Recruitment firm Hays says marketing and communications salaries remained steady in the past 12 months and the trend will continue throughout 2019.

Grace Eldridge says the most sought after professionals have multichannel, digital skills.

The firm also predicts agencies will become more flexible with working hours and PR professionals with financial and digital skills will be in demand.

Grace Eldridge, business manager of marketing, communications and digital at Hays Middle East, said the most sought after marketing professionals remain to be those with multichannel, digital expertise.

"This includes individuals who specialise in end-to-end customer-centric campaigns and who are competent in setting, implementing and fulfilling marketing strategies, in line with business objectives," she said.

"Digitally, organisations in the UAE had been concentrating on the transformation of their internal IT functions as an initial phasing of digitalisation, however, this is now moving right across the business, incorporating all departments not least marketing."

Organisations’ online presence through social media and websites, as well as the personalisation of services and products, is now driving the demand for digital marketing skills that have not previously been as important.

"Now at the forefront of hiring, plans are multi-channel marketing professionals with added eCommerce, CRM and insights experience," Eldridge added.

Salaries stagnant

Throughout the GCC, Hays analysis has shown salaries have remained steady over the past 12 months and it anticipates this to continue throughout 2019.

"Board-level marketing professionals and digital marketing specialists – with skills related to eCommerce, CRM and insights mentioned above – are commanding the highest pay rates," Eldridge said.

"In contrast, the more junior end of the market is inundated with candidates, all of similar skills and abilities. We see new job seekers arriving every day with ambitions to work and live in the UAE, drawn by the tax-free salaries. As such, employers are able to offer lower salaries as there is no shortage of job seekers who will agree to a basic salary in order to secure a role in the competitive job market.

The Hays 2019 GCC Salary & Employment Report found pay rises for marketing professionals in 2018 were more commonly down to internal promotions, rather than starting a new job with a new firm.

The Hays report also found that flexible working patterns are on the rise with many organisations moving away from traditional 9am-5pm contracts and instead of offering remote working and flexi-time.

"I have seen this particularly with Abu Dhabi-based employers who are becoming more open to recruiting candidates from Dubai, allowing them to work from home for a number of days per week," Eldridge said.

She added that perceptions of marketing and its relative impact on organisational success is changing across all industries.

"Historically it had been considered a ‘nice to have’ function, but one which was typically first to be cut when company budgets were restricted," Eldridge explained. "Now, however, we are noticing marketing and communications teams to be taking a more proactive and involved role amongst leadership teams as boards realise the importance of marketing activity for the success of the business."

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