Middle East marketing and PR salaries remain 'stagnant' amid decreasing optimism

The latest Hays 2020 GCC Salary & Employment Report also found that hiring activity within PR and marketing was steady year-on-year.

 Chris Greaves is managing director of Hays in the Gulf region
Chris Greaves is managing director of Hays in the Gulf region

Salaries and job opportunities in marketing, PR and comms remain stagnant across the GCC, and many professionals have wavering optimism about the future, looking to change roles in the coming year, according to the latest Hays 2020 GCC Salary & Employment Report.

Based on survey findings from over 6,800 employers and employees across the region, the report takes a detailed look at salary and hiring trends from 2019 and employee and employer expectations for 2020.

Hiring activity ’steady'

The report broke down job sectors across the GCC and found that hiring activity within PR and marketing was steady year-on-year - with a similar number of roles available in 2019 as there was in 2018. 

The second half of the year was marginally busier than the first, with activity picking up after Ramadan and summer.

The busiest area of hiring with the greatest uplift in roles available to marketing and PR professionals was in the tech sector. In contrast, professional and financial services were some of the slower areas of job creation for marketing. 

Geographically, the UAE remains the most active for the hiring of marketing professionals in the region.

Chris Greaves, managing director of Hays in the Gulf, noted some uplift in demand from Kuwait and Qatar as organisations within these regions look to extend their brand offerings.

With regards to market outlook, the report suggested expects 2020 to remain at a similar rate of hiring to the past two years, with the tech industry continuing as the most active area. 

Uncertain workforce 

From an employee perspective, marketing professionals appear more uncertain about their career prospects for the year ahead, with 14 per cent of those quizzed saying they feel less positive than last year. About half (48 per cent) intend on moving employer in the next 12 months. 

"The reason for this drop in optimism is unclear, but the competitive market conditions and a slight reduction in the number of salary increases taking place in the last year are likely to have had some bearing on this," said Greaves.

About half (52 per cent) of marketing professionals' salaries remained the same, year-on-year, in 2019, with 43 per cent reporting an increase and five per cent experiencing a pay cut. 

These statistics are slightly subdued compared to 2018 when 51 per cent reported a salary increase and only one per cent had their pay reduced.

Of those salaries that did increase in 2019, the most common was an uplift of between five to ten per cent. 

Salary expectations

Looking ahead, 61 per cent of marketing professionals expect their salaries to increase in 2020. While this is significant, it is less than the 70 per cent who said the same last year and would suggest that expectations are lowering to a small extent, according to the authors of the report.

Generalist marketing roles that incorporate digital expertise are the most in demand.

"The jobs market in the GCC is incredibly competitive, with many professionals looking for new marketing opportunities," said Greaves. "Job seekers, therefore, need to look for ways to stand out from the crowd in order to maximise their chances of success. Up-skilling is essential."

From an employer’s perspective, while there are many eager marketing professionals looking for work, the availability of those with proven digital technical expertise is relatively limited and organisations are looking to source this talent from outside of the GCC. 

When it comes to retention of staff, salary is the main factor keeping marketing professionals with their current employer.

A salary guide found that the average creative director or account director will pull in an average yearly income of Dh40,000, while a senior account manager and an account manager will earn an average of Dh28,000 and Dh25,000 respectively. An account executive can expect to earn about Dh13,000 a year. 

More freelancers

The report noted that, across all industries, the trend of contracting and the hiring of workers on a temporary basis is becoming increasingly attractive to employers within the GCC. 

Furthermore, Saudi Arabia has presented a growing number of opportunities over the past 12 months and Hays expects this to increase exponentially over the coming year.

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