PR hiring trends 2016 in corporate communications – The Works Search

06 Sep 2016 by Sarah Leembruggen.

Here The Works Search team share their insights on the latest changes in the PR and communications recruitment market in 2016.

In-house or agency?

As with previous market reports we’ve given, there is a personal preference for an in-house move with the majority of our candidates – 9 out of 10 professionals we speak to are specifically interested in an in-house transition, however this year our placements reflect an appreciation for the agency roles with our top tier agency clients. As we strongly value the opportunities and benefits both in-house and agency experience can bring to a PR professional’s career, we are happy to see an interest in agency roles, however the majority of our placements this year are 60% in-house, an increase of 10% from last year.

Placement trends

In Q1 this year 54% of our placements were in fact agency-side, in comparison to a strong in-house trend in Q2 with 80% of our placements being in-house. Q3 so far is at 45% for agency placements. There has been a fairly even trend of seniority of professionals we have placed in-house and with agencies although the most popular in-house are Directors of Communications and PR Managers, and agency-side Managing Directors and Associate Directors.

What roles are in demand?

As board to mid level communications specialists, we have found that a popular level agency-side in Financial PR is Account Director up to Associate Director, and in corporate agencies there has been a high demand for Account Managers. There have also been plenty of in-house PR Manager roles we have successfully managed this year. Also we have seen a surge in 9-12 month contract roles, and our internal communications desk is flourishing. Across all of our specialist sectors there have been replacement and investment hires which is positive news for the industry – no sign of a Brexit slowdown yet! The flow of roles coming through the door has not changed at all.

Our goal

The market is still, as ever, candidate short when it comes to exceptional talent, which for us means that sourcing the top 5% of PR talent remains our biggest challenge. In 2016 we have found that only 15% of our roles are filled through advertising, with 85% of our placements achieved through our discreet headhunting and referrals from our impressive network, which we believe is a testament to our quality and strong position in the sector. It also goes to show that the best candidates are passive rather than active, and the days of filling jobs with exceptional professionals through adverts really are over. We changed our service model in line with the market a couple of years ago and have found where we have had the most success with filling roles this year is where we have partnered exclusively with a company.

The way people look for jobs has changed fundamentally and we have changed with it to stay ahead. We have developed into a search business with dedicated headhunters to fill roles. Agency roles take us three times as long to fill compared to in-house because of the desire for in-house from professionals and the ‘grass is greener’ effect. The agencies which have recognised this this year have worked in partnership with us (our gold service) and we have filled 80% of these roles. We have been less successful with the PR agencies which give a job brief to multiple search agencies as we unable to dedicate the resource required to fill them.

It will be interesting to see how the work with our clients evolves over the coming years as the fight for great talent is high and the way we work with companies is changing.

The Works Search specialise in placing mid to senior level PR and communications talent in leading PR agencies and in-house organisations across London, on both a contingency and executive search basis. For our latest roles visit our jobs page, or contact the team on 0207 559 6690 to discuss your career in confidence.

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