Self-employed jobs market for freelance creatives ‘not all doom and gloom’

Staffing giant Major Players says the UK’s freelance jobs market for creative industries professionals is “not all doom and gloom.”

The reassurance by the recruitment agency came after almost 9,000 individuals in marketing, digital and creative fields gave the agency a ‘warts and all’ account of their professional lives.

Or as one Major Players recruiter preferred in a post, its new Creative Census 2023 that polled 8,971 people about the “creative world” of work in the UK, “delves deep”.

'Freelancer pay for creatives up by three per cent'

Sent by Major Players director George Greenaway-Poole to FreelanceUK, the census shows that creative freelancer pay in the last 12 months has risen by just three per cent.

The tiny rate bump is half the average uplift which full-time creatives have enjoyed -- six per cent, which was said to reflect employers trying to “attract and retain talent.”

Further on pay, more than 64% of respondents working in permanent positions reported a salary increase in the last 12 months, with 6% stating their annual income had dwindled.

'Rate increases for 48% of creative industries freelancers'

By contrast, just under half of freelancers recorded day rate increases (48%), with 8% reporting their daily take-home pay had fallen.

Despite average pay lifts for both types, many creatives’ living standards are lower, as only 28% of clients put “cost-of-living measures” in place, says Major Players’ Karina Warburton.

More positively, two-thirds of clients are still looking to hire creatives, Warburton wrote of the consensus online, indicating ‘time on the bench’ could be minimal in the months to come.

'The Great Recalibration'

But more significant may be the rate at which hiring gets done, as the census speaks of a “Great Recalibration,” which it says is ongoing after a “post-pandemic boom.”

“[Faced with high-volume workload] the post-pandemic recovery saw many businesses hire aggressively”, explained Major Players’ UK managing director Joanne Lucy.

“This resulted in almost half of businesses expressing regret in some of the hires made during this period, and therefore [they] are now more cautious in their talent-acquisition strategies.”

'Digital Marketing jobs for freelancers up 14%'

This implied hirer nervousness, or at least a reluctance to rush into taking on candidates -- including the second-best or those surplus to operating lean, may help freelancers, however.

In E-Commerce and Digital Marketing, Major Players found the chunk of roles solely for freelancers -- workers who are easiest to let go, is up by a hefty 14%, taking the total to 22%.

Similarly in Events, the proportion of roles reserved for non-permanent professionals, who can be dismissed quickly if economic conditions worsen, is up 7%, taking the total to 26%.

User Experience emerged in the census as somewhere in between Events and E-Commerce/Digital Marketing, as 23% of all UX openings are now freelance.

'Money matters most'

Major Players’ boss Ms Lucy signalled that for such freelancers (and just about any other type of self-employed creative), it is pounds per hour or day which now calls the shots.

“Day rates are considered the most important factor for [creative industries’] job-seekers,” she wrote in the census’s foreword.

“[The] security [of the opportunity whether permanent or freelance is] also a priority, as candidates approach the market with slight trepidation.”

'Isn't all doom and gloom'

Yet “it isn't all doom and gloom,” according to the agency’s Jade Allegra.

Reflecting on LinkedIn, she added: “The census shares [some] great cheer for the year ahead...and [offers] much-needed transparency on [pay] across Creative. Creative [companies] -- use these [findings] to better benchmark your salary or day rate”.

 

2nd May 2023

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