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Fashion, Retail Job Market Demands Digital and Technical Talent

Despite a lackluster year for retail, companies are still hiring at the same rate as last year, and many are seeking tech-savvy candidates to fill available positions.

In the 2014 Salary and Job Market report, produced by talent recruitment agency 24 Seven, the firm found that companies are seeking a class of “digitally sophisticated” employees who are fluent in social media and e-commerce. Digital and interactive jobs were named among the top five most difficult areas to recruit, after sales, marketing, design and creative services, and operations.

The employment trend may do little to shed the industry’s superficial image, however it highlights the increasing need for digital marketing, social media and e-commerce skill sets. However, the demand for traditional fashion candidates, including planners, designers, patternmakers and technical designers remain high.

According to the 1,400 fashion and retail professionals surveyed, 85 percent said they are hiring at the same rate, or higher, than last year. Jobs are filling up quickly too, as 83 percent of executives claim to be under the same or more pressure to attract and retain talent.

To lure talent, nearly half of the companies surveyed said they are integrating untraditional benefits like flextime and telecommuting into their workflow. While 72 percent report slight raises averaging 4 percent, companies have learned that employees value quality of life benefits such as summer hours and comp days.

Thanks in part to more companies allowing flexible hours, 68 percent of employees report having a good work/life balance. That optimistic outlook is reverberated down to their projects and work responsibilities. 49 percent said they are satisfied with their job and 47 percent feel “truly engaged” in their work.

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Similarly, 77 percent of freelancers said are happy with their work/life balance, although more than half of the pool is increasingly willing to go full-time. That willingness could be influenced by the fact that half of the companies questioned expect to rely on freelancers less in the future.

However, 60 percent of fashion and retail employees said they feel as though they are in demand, and a majority reportedly have been approached for new jobs more frequently in the last year than the year before.

As a result, more than three-quarters of the work force said they plan to change jobs this year, naming higher salaries, better advancement opportunities and potential for growth as reasons they are on the move. Turning tables on employers, job candidates said they assess potential employers based on the company website, online review sites and company LinkedIn page.