An analysis of the causes of PR's talent shortfall

Talent right now? One word: scarce! I know that really doesn’t help in finding a solution, but it should provide comfort if you’re finding recruitment challenging.

The PR market like many others is seeing a definite shortage of talent particularly across mid to senior level positions.

The recent ICCO PR World Report showed strong optimism for industry growth, but concern about sourcing talent. In fact, agencies were polarised in their responses in these two areas.

On a scale of 1-10 do you agree that there is a plentiful supply of talent in your PR market?

On a scale of 1-10 do you agree that the PR industry does a good job of sourcing talent from outside the industry?

Where are PR firms expecting to source talent from?:

What are the talent strategy challenges for PR firms?

Significant challenges lie ahead if businesses are expecting their optimism on growth to become a reality. Growth is predicated on having the relevant talent available, and right now it’s being throttled by a shortfall.

Reasons why

To understand why this is happening, we need to look deeper into the mindsets and motivations of candidates, both passive and active, from within and outside the industry.

Reuben Sinclair finds talent clients across PR & communications, digital marketing, analytics, and insights. Along the way, we have been asking questions that help us understand what exactly is going on in the talent market right now and there are three key findings:

  1. Nine in ten candidates have received a promotion and/or a pay rise this year. Most people were likely not given a promotion or pay rise throughout 2020 and so once a level of confidence came back to the market, it was one of the first things businesses did. This has certainly kept employees’ happy for another 6-12 months, at least.
  2. More than half of candidates are cautious about making a move even in the current conditions. Looking deeper into this, the reasonings are mainly around a possible winter lockdown and new variants. Candidates are still worried about the possibility of being last in the door and first out. Security for many is everything.
  3. People are giving far more thought to how their work fits in with their personal needs and wants; this includes considering a change of industry entirely. Many intend on seeing 2021 through whilst they work out exactly what they want to do and will consider their options in the New Year. After all, who wants to worry about a move just before Christmas and New Year especially if you still have things to think about?

Future prospects

What does this mean for 2022? Well, it will be another year of two halves. You’re probably familiar with the term ‘the great resignation’. It’s the rate at which people voluntarily leave their jobs, confident in knowing they’ll secure another. The term was coined in the US because in April 2021, resignations there peaked and have remained abnormally high for the last several months.

The UK PR market hasn’t seen this impact yet, however my prediction is that it’s on its way. Let’s not forget that just before the pandemic hit, there would have been many people actively looking for a new role or at least considering making a move. The likelihood is that in 2022, unless companies have worked extensively on their retention strategies, these employees will actively seek new opportunities after a tumultuous two years of staying put.

That’s good news for businesses looking to recruit but not so good for companies looking to maintain retention targets. It’s the businesses with the best Employee Value Proposition and employer brand that will win the battle in both areas.

We’re seeing smart businesses develop a robust and attractive employee value proposition for 2022 and beyond. It will ensure they attract the best talent when the big quit happens but will also increase the chances of retention of key staff. If you’re not doing it already, you should.

Written by Rohan Shah, co-founder and managing director at PR, digital, sales and marketing recruitment specialist Reuben Sinclair

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