Digital transformation is driving demand for professionals in the UAE's marketing, communications and digital sectors, according to recruitment specialists.
Last year, a full year out from the Covid-19 pandemic, recruitment activity was high in these sectors as organisations built out their marketing, communications and digital teams, the Hays 2023 GCC Salary Guide says.
“Activity peaked towards the end of 2022 when managers and directors received budget sign-off for their staffing strategy for the new year,” says James Toye, consultant for marketing and digital at Hays.
“While marketing, communications and digital professionals were typically in demand across various industries, some of the most active in terms of hiring included technology, fast moving consumer goods, retail and construction.”
The job market in the UAE, the Arab world's second-largest economy, has recovered well from the pandemic-induced slowdown due largely to fiscal and social measures taken by the government.
Most companies in the Emirates plan to hire new employees during the remainder of the year, and wages are expected to increase by just under 2 per cent in 2023, according to the Cooper Fitch Salary Guide 2023.
More than half of companies (57 per cent) expect to increase salaries this year, according to the Cooper Fitch survey, which polled business leaders at 300 companies in the GCC.
About 30 per cent of marketing, communications and digital professionals changed roles last year, compared with 29 per cent that did so in 2021, Hays reports.
Eight in 10 employers in the sector are planning to recruit permanent employees this year, the recruiter says.
Within the UAE, contracting and outsourcing are most popular in this sector, supported by new visas that allow for a more flexible working approach. Indeed, one in two employers plans to recruit marketing, communications and digital freelancers and/or contractors in 2023, Hays adds.
With hiring rates increasing in the UAE’s marketing, communications and digital sectors, what are the most sought-after jobs and how much do they pay?
Read on to find out – and check out our comprehensive UAE salary guide 2023 slide show below for a snapshot of your sector.
Which jobs are in demand?
Most available jobs will be in the digital and e-commerce space, according to Hays.
“Those organisations that are building out their digital marketing teams are hiring from the top down,” the consultancy says.
“As such, mid-to-senior level digital marketing roles will be in high demand – digital marketing managers/heads, e-commerce managers/directors, insights and analytics managers/heads, CX specialists and data analysts.”
Recruiter Michael Page says in its 2023 UAE Salary Guide that the most in-demand roles in the digital industry are product development, user experience design, digital leadership, e-commerce specialist and performance marketing.
What job skills are employers looking for?
Marketers with specialised digital, technical and analytical skills will continue to be most sought-after this year, Hays says.
Employees who possess these skills are in short supply in the region, and are therefore difficult to recruit, the consultancy says.
Demand for user experience skills is still high across all industries, according to Michael Page.
“As business needs are maturing, we have seen a rise in the needs for a range of user experience skill sets. Companies are looking for specialists from UX researchers to UX product managers and beyond,” it says.
People with skills in digital leadership are also in demand, the consultancy adds.
Building digital culture is still high on the agenda of companies across all industries. With the advent of remote and hybrid working, there has been an increase in demand for leaders with experience driving employee productivity through technology and in line with business needs, Michael Page explains.
The digital landscape is evolving and organisations are looking for leaders who are flexible and willing to try out new technologies, it says.
Are salaries expected to rise in the sector?
Half of marketing, communications and digital professionals say their salary increased year-on-year, most commonly by less than 5 per cent, with the main reason being a new job, Hays says.
Among those who changed roles in the past 12 months, the most commonly given reason for doing so was a low salary.
There is good news moving forward, as employees and employers seem to agree in terms of salary – 76 per cent of both groups expect wages to increase this year, according to Hays.
However, senior top-performing individuals who possess expertise and carry heavy responsibilities are the most likely to have a pay increase request approved this year, the recruiter says.
What other benefits can employees expect?
Professionals in this industry enjoy a positive work-life balance. They receive among the highest levels of flexibility and are allowed to work from home more often than most employees in the region. Despite this, attrition was high last year, mainly due to salary and lack of career progression, according to Hays.
Work-life balance, including flexible working, is a key priority for marketing, communications and digital professionals – it’s their most valued benefit and the second-most important factor when considering a new role after the benefits package, Hays reports.
“One in three would not accept a job if it were solely office-based, and 29 per cent say they would look elsewhere if their organisation went back into the office full-time,” Mr Toye from Hays says.
“With one in five employers anticipating employees will be required in the workplace more this year, those that offer hybrid and flexible working options will have a distinct advantage in attracting the best talent.”
Organisations that are bringing back full-time office traditional models will put themselves at risk, not only when trying to secure top talent, but also in terms of losing talent to competitors, Michael Page explains.
Companies should be flexible allowing candidates to work the hybrid model. The digital industry has adapted well to hybrid working and has proven itself over the pandemic, the consultancy says.
Meanwhile, fewer than 40 per cent of marketing, communications and digital professionals expect a promotion this year, Hays reports.
About 45 per cent plan to change organisations in the next 12 months, mainly due to a lack of career progression and development opportunities.
Employers that want to retain staff should set clear promotional targets and provide opportunities for continuing professional development, the Hays salary guide suggests.
What are the highest-paying jobs in the digital marketing sector?
- Head of digital marketing: Dh40,000 ($10,891) to Dh60,000 a month
- Senior digital marketing manager: Dh30,000 to Dh40,000
- Growth hacker: Dh20,000 to Dh40,000
- Digital marketing manager: Dh28,000 to Dh38,000
- Social media manager: Dh20,000 to Dh30,000
- SEO manager: Dh18,000 to Dh28,000
- Account manager: Dh15,000 to Dh18,000
- Digital marketing executive: Dh12,000 to Dh18,000
User experience and design
- UX director: Dh50,000 to Dh70,000
- Head of user experience: Dh40,000 to Dh55,000
- Product designer: Dh20,000 to Dh35,000
- UX/UI designer: Dh18,000 to Dh28,000
- Visual designer: Dh15,000 to Dh25,000
Digital transformation and strategy
- Chief digital officer: Dh60,000 to Dh90,000
- Head of digital: Dh40,000 to Dh70,000
- Digital transformation manager: Dh40,000 to Dh65,000
- Agile lead: Dh30,000 to Dh45,000
- Digital strategist: Dh25,000 to Dh35,000
- Digital project manager: Dh20,000 to Dh30,000
Product and e-commerce
- Product director: Dh45,000 to Dh60,000
- Head of e-commerce/omnichannel: Dh35,000 to Dh50,000
- Head of product: Dh40,000 to Dh50,000
- Product manager: Dh20,000 to Dh35,000
- E-commerce manager: Dh25,000 to Dh35,00
- E-commerce specialist: Dh18,000 to Dh25,000
Source: Michael Page