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A buoyant 2014 will cause a major strain on employers in PR

3rd February 2014


2014 is making all the right noises, not since pre-2007 have we seen such confidence in the market. Clients are winning business and finally in-house teams have the budget to grow. The result is there are many employers looking to hire and employees looking for the next move in their career.

The majority of vacancies client and agency side are at the mid - level, in old terms Account Managers and Account Directors - traditionally a tricky level to hire at and still the case.

With agencies still sticking to the tried and tested policy of only hiring once the business has been won, it can put a huge strain on hiring managers. Especially where they are tasked to actively seek out new recruits themselves.

At fast growing (say 20% per annum) and highly successful agencies they will often have a natural 15-20% turnover making it a very tall order to be able to keep all recruitment in-agency when the size of Talent/HR divisions are considered in the UK - leading them to reach for the phones and call in the external suppliers. We recently opened an office in New York and the difference in size and approach of in-agency Talent/HR divisions is huge - and it is often the US owned agencies that expect this.

Recruiters, whether they are agency, client-side or working in a recruitment consultancy remain constrained by the continued inability of employers to look beyond the traditional talent pool. So what we will see are employers all going after the same talent - driving salaries and expectations up. Although refreshingly we did meet a CEO of a boutique agency who insisted on hiring outside of PR and even hired before he won business!

For in-house recruiters the issues are different. As the in-house market has been quiet for a number of years (although we see this changing in 2014, but still at the mid-level), when roles are posted online they are inundated with applications. One well-known Social Media website recently posted a Corp Comms Manager role and received over 200 applications in under 2 days. Their challenge is to sift through the dross and find the gems.

What this all means, from a totally unbiased view, is the role of the external Recruitment Consultant remains highly valued. Online, some had predicted, could greatly diminish our value, but in some ways it has added to our necessity.

Jamie McLaughlin - Managing Director, Capstone Hill Search



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