By Diane Domeyer, Robert Half managing vice president

For marketing and creative professionals, the past 18 months have had a real “best of times, worst of times” feel to them. From job insecurity to the isolation of remote work, the negative impact of lockdowns hardly needs restating.

But there have been positive effects, too. The e-commerce boom and accelerated digital transformation, for example, are fueling demand for digitally savvy marketers and creatives who can help organizations reach new consumers and enhance the customer experience.

If you’re considering a career move, now may be the right time. Employers are expanding their teams of marketing and creative professionals, and your skills are likely in high demand. But how do you make smart, data-driven career choices? You’ll need to do some research. Resources like the 2022 Salary Guide from Robert Half have information like in-demand marketing and creative skills and salary expectations to help you get started.

Here are some key takeaways from this year’s guide.

It’s a red-hot job market

America’s got talent. Overall, two-thirds of workers are confident they could find a new job quickly. In the marketing and creative fields, 36% of professionals say they’re planning to look for a new job in the second half of 2021.

This confidence is justified. Organizations that struggled during the early months of the pandemic are now ramping up new projects and, in some cases, expanding or upskilling their staff. At the same time, sectors that never saw a dip, such as healthcare and technology, show no signs of falling back.

Overall hiring is reaching or even exceeding pre-pandemic levels in many markets, and 54% of marketing and creative managers say they’re adding to their teams. Competition for top talent is fierce, with the most skilled candidates juggling multiple job offers and holding out for higher salaries and more attractive perks and benefits.

Digital skills pay the bills

Current unemployment numbers clearly put job seekers in a prime position. But to land that dream job, you’ll need the particular skills that marketing and creative managers are looking for. This includes expertise in:

  • Adobe Creative Cloud
  • Account management
  • Customer experience
  • Interactive design
  • Digital marketing
  • Marketing and email campaign management
  • Social media

It’s easy to spot the common denominator here: digital. During the pandemic, businesses expanded and refined their online channels to engage their customers. Now they’re looking for professionals who can take their digital marketing to the next level. So, if you have experience in automation technology, marketing analytics and crafting personalized content for individual customers, make sure you highlight it in your resume and digital portfolio.

A rundown of the hottest jobs in the marketing and creative field provides further evidence that tech-savvy workers are poised to dominate. Here are the key roles right now, along with their median starting salaries:

  • Copywriter — $75,500
  • Digital marketing manager — $86,000
  • Front-end developer — $93,250
  • Marketing analytics specialist — $72,000
  • Product designer — $85,000
  • UX designer — $102,000

(Note that these are national averages. To adjust salaries for regional cost of living, talent availability and other factors, you can access our Salary Calculator at https://www.roberthalf.com

There’s more than one path to the top

Career development programs took a backseat during the pandemic, as many companies and professionals focused on the day-to-day. So your technical skills might be a little rusty, or perhaps you don’t have enough experience to dazzle a hiring manager looking to fill one of the above-mentioned hot jobs.

If so, don’t assume you’re out of the running. When faced with a talent shortage, managers are more likely to hire for potential. In other words, they may be willing to bring in an early-career professional or someone who needs a little technology upskilling.

On the other hand, if you have in-demand skills but don’t want a long-term commitment, consider project-based work. More than a third of companies are increasing the use of contract talent, and 45% use contract professionals as the majority of their workforce.

Companies need to show they care

While marketing and creative professionals may feel optimistic about their career future, many are still recovering from the recent past. Almost half (46%) of those polled by Robert Half said they feel more burned out now than they did a year ago.

Employers have paid attention. Wellness policies that would have been icing on the cake pre-pandemic are now part of the standard compensation package. Almost half (46%) of marketing and creative managers say they’re providing workers more paid time off, with a similar proportion (44%) offering wellness programs. A full 50% of organizations have started offering mental health assistance.

Businesses also need to accommodate professionals who thrived during the pandemic, achieving a work-life balance that may have once seemed out of reach. Take remote working. Shrugging off the early days of improvised workspaces and impromptu pets and children’s appearances on Zoom calls, millions of people are now excellent teleworkers — to the extent that one in three say they won’t join or stay with companies that have an office-only policy.

Time for a career upgrade?

The trends and recent data clearly show that marketing and creative professionals have the upper hand in today’s job market. And if you have the skills that organizations need right now, the next year could be a defining one for your career.

Follow Diane Domeyer on Twitter and LinkedIn.