Forward Role Infographic Update

North West Digital Through The Ages

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North West Digital Through The Ages

When I first started my career in recruitment over a decade ago, the North West marketing landscape was a lot different to the one we see now. Many things have changed since then in fact; my waistline is no longer 28 inches, it no longer takes minutes for a web page to load (remember the pings coming from your modem as you waited patiently and Forward Role was just a name that I thought would be fun to use if I ever started my own recruitment business. 

Back in the late nineties and early noughties the biggest recruitment market in Marketing in the North West was for offline direct marketers. Huge teams of people produced collateral, direct mail packs, catalogues, leaflets and door drops for the likes of GUS Home Shopping / Shop Direct, JD Williams, Littlewoods, Citicards / The Associates (remember them!), Swinton Insurance, The Co-operative Bank / CIS and numerous DM Agencies. I spent my first year moving people round the Littlewoods, Shop Direct and JD Williams home shopping merry go round and I was less than happy with the Barclay brothers for merging the first two!

The early wave of jobs online were commonly generalist Online Marketing Manager roles for companies who felt they needed a web presence – any web presence in some cases! Some early sites produced by some of the biggest Financial Services and Retail companies were just a few pages of information or an online brochure. It’s fascinating to look back at some of the sites from back then too. I worked in Marketing at The Co-operative Bank in 1999 when they launched which was positioned as a cutting edge online proposition, but the site doesn’t seem so advanced now;

Less than 5 years later, driven by the digital revolution and broadband speeds making the online experience more accessible for the masses, the volume of offline roles we recruited for had been overtaken by online vacancies appearing on our sales pipeline.

As sites started to become transactional we saw our first e-commerce roles and once businesses started to fully realise the potential of the channel we started to see more specific acquisition roles such as SEO , PPC, Display and Affiliate positions come to the fore to help businesses drive traffic to their sites.

Somewhere along the way the term digital overtook web and online and as sites and digital departments began to become more sophisticated,  businesses wanted to measure ROI in that channel in the same way that they did in their offline teams. As a result the next trend we experienced in Digital was a surge in demand for Web Analytics talent.

So what does the landscape look like now? Well, Forward Role is no longer a figment of my imagination, rather a leader in the Digital Recruitment space in the North West (as well as Creative, Marketing and Analytics). Minute long page load times are a thing of the past and the likes of 3G and 4G now make mobile devices hundreds of times faster than our old desktops. Also my waistline might well be a couple of inches bigger. 

The digital recruitment landscape is still adapting, with some interesting trends on the horizon. Specific design and development roles by device fuelled by the increased use of mobile devices mean that titles such as Mobile Designer or Tablet Developer are going to become increasingly common. And somewhere along the line online customer experience and customer journey job titles have morphed into the more en vogue UX and UI variations.

One thing is for sure, the Digital channel is still evolving fast and is increasingly becoming the most dominant channel in Marketing. Whether you are a designer, analyst or marketer, it’s crucial to your future career prospects to get experience of the channel on your CV if you want to maximise your market value!

We’ve analysed our CV database to produce the following digital infographic that shows the top 25 digital keywords that appear on Digital CV’s in our database. Take a look and see how your CV stacks up?

Steve Thompson is the MD of Forward Role and manages Senior and Executive level Marketing, Digital, Creative and Analytical recruitment in the North West. Contact him at or call 0161 914 8499 for a chat with any of our consultants about opportunities or finding great people for your business. View our latest jobs at