Our 2019 highlights – sustainability, gender pay, flexible working – and much more!

09 Dec 2019

Throughout 2019, the market has felt steady and strong, and agency and in-house corporate communications teams across the board have been hiring. In-house roles are coming through the door at a steady pace – a combination of investment hires (new roles) and replacement roles. Investment hires indicating a healthy market and agency roles have been plentiful. However, we have taken fewer new roles in the last quarter of 2019. Looking at the political landscape, hiring decisions are no doubt being pushed into Q1 of next year.

Fingers crossed, the market remains strong next year, but for now, thank you for all your business this year and, as ever, your ongoing support. Here are some thoughts, highlights and FAQs from 2019.

What new comms roles are people hiring for?

Communication roles focussed on sustainability and social impact are in fashion. We have seen roles with a primary focus on promoting the company’s sustainability, innovation and charitable work, often called Heads of Sustainability or Campaigns. These roles are coming up for both agencies and in-house corporate comms teams.

Many consumer companies are endorsing sustainability and what is means to be a responsible business as a part of their communications programme. Investment managers are also interested in promoting their impact investing, alongside energy companies wanting to promote their new technology and innovation.

What is important to comms professionals moving jobs in 2019?

It’s interesting how working for companies with a purposeful agenda has been a frequent request this year, and once again, flexible working practices are a top priority for many professionals – read more about how both in-house companies and agencies need to step up and address the high demand for flexibility in the workplace here.

Which industry sectors have hired the most comms people?

We placed the most people with large real estate companies and US-owned investment managers this year.

What roles have we filled this year?

· It turns out that 55% of the roles we have filled this year are within in-house corporate comms teams, an increase of 10% from last year, and 45% of roles are with agencies

· We have successfully found Global Heads of Comms, Heads of Financial Comms, Heads of Media through to Communications Managers for companies including Savills, PA Consulting, Sainsbury’s, Franklin Templeton, The Crown Estate, Octopus Investors, Net a Porter, A J Gallagher, AIMA – to name but a few

· For our agency clients, we have placed professionals in Non-Exec, Partner roles to Account Directors with Powerscourt, Lansons, Headland, Maitland, Infinite Global, and DRD amongst others

· 90% of those briefs were corporate communications-focussed and 10% financial comms

It wasn’t a good year for…

Agency Associate Directors – they got short-changed on salaries and bonuses compared to other levels. For more details on how they appear to be the ‘forgotten level’ when it comes to rewards, you read more here.

The gender pay gap remains an ongoing issue – by the time women have made it to Global Head of Communications, the pay gap is at a staggering £28k difference. There has been some progress towards closing the gap, however, which you can read more about here

Which levels have been in most demand?

Account Directors – the industry is short of this middle layer, and has been for years. In-house comms team love a Communications Manager and we have filled lots of these alongside their bosses.

The most challenging role to fill for agencies?

Corporate Account Directors and Associate Directors who want to move to another agency. As we found in our Annual Salary Guide 2019, 70% of professionals working at these levels want to move in-house in their next move. Only 14% will consider another agency leaving agencies short on talent.

Most challenging in-house roles to find people for?

Contract roles have been by far the most challenging, as finding great calibre professionals in really short time frames is tricky. In fact, for us, we have a
wealth of great people wanting in-house roles, however, sourcing the highest performers who are available immediately is the challenge.

What didn’t work in 2019?

Advertising for agency candidates. Not one of our agency roles was filled from an advert we placed on our website or elsewhere, as high performers don’t look for jobs that way.

Talent shortage is hurting agencies

Agencies have fallen out of favour and hiring is more painful than ever for agencies as only 14% of corporate comms professionals will consider another agency in their next move. Their competition is from in-house employers and not other agencies, as their company benefits are not matching up to those of in-house teams. However, we
have seen agencies stepping up on company benefits, particularly flexible working practices, and this has been received positively amongst job applicants.

The agencies which are less well known and those without in-house recruiters to help only have a small pool from which they can find good people. We have seen they are nervous about partnering with a search firm as they haven’t done it before, or they previously chose the wrong one. Our data shows we filled 95% of the permanent roles where we managed the searches exclusively (our gold service). When advertising doesn’t work, it’s all about your network and a proactive approach.

Executive search success

Once again, we filled 100% of our Platinum executive searches. This is where we seek out the top 5% industry performers for the shortlist and guarantee

Our favourite newsletter interview of the year

We asked three leading property communications Heads of Communications to gain an insight into their challenges, what’s interesting about property comms at
present, what makes them tick and some expert advice for career progression. If you missed this one, it’s worth a read here

Final word

Once again, thanks for your support and trusting us to help you.

Wishing you all a very healthy and successful 2020.

Sarah Leembruggen

Managing Director

Salary Survey 2018 - 2019