Salaries for junior media sales staff hit new highs because of skills shortage

Junior and middle-ranking sales staff at media owners saw their salaries hit new highs last year because of a skills shortage across the ad industry, according to new research.

Simon Shroot, managing director of Sylex, the media recruitment firm, which compiles the annual pay survey, said: "We have seen more jobs than ever and fewer people being out of a job for very long."

Salaries for new graduates and younger staff with between one and six years’ experience all hit new highs.

Graduates could expect a record starting salary of £20,000. Those with one year’s experience got a peak salary of £28,000, account managers with less than six years’ experience got £50,000 and those with four to six years experience £70,000.

Job Title Average Low High
Graduate (no experience) £18,203 £18,000 £20,000
Account Executive (6-12 Months) £23,222 £18,000 £28,000
Sales Executive ( 1-3 Years) £26,571 £21,000 £35,000
Account Manager (3-6 Years) £38,520 £27,000 £50,000
Strategy/G Head (4-6 Years) £56,441 £47,500 £70,000
Agency Lead (6+Years) £58,359 £45,000 £80,000
10+ Years £91,329 £55,000 £175,000
Managing Director £148,444 £106,000 £250,000

These younger staff were in particular demand because of a "shrinking" talent pool, following the decision by many companies to cut graduate traineeships and training in the wake of the 2008-9 downturn.

Shroot said demand for people with four to six years’ experience was also being driven by media owners’ need for staff with a background in content creation and the growing trend to build international teams to work alongside the existing UK-focused operation. "You don’t have to be managing a team to earn a higher salary," he said.

The survey found the strong UK economy and growth in digital and content creation had also boosted sentiment.

However, there was less salary inflation for more senior candidates at the level of commercial director and managing director, partly because of a growing divide between digital and traditional media.

"There isn’t the supply shortage that we have seen at junior levels," said Shroot. "Tech and digital continue to push salaries to higher levels than before whereas traditional media owners are able to control what they are offering and have even managed to push salaries down in some instances."

The Sylex survey uses figures for base salary. However, Shroot said: "Bonus and commission are important to employees and last year we saw more companies introducing uncapped bonuses as an extra incentive. Digital tend to offer 100 per cent OTE at account manager level and above, whereas traditional media remains around 30 to 60 per cent OTE mark."

Bonuses for managing directors and commercial directors remain "strong".

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