Why is getting great cover for parental leaves such a headache?

25 Nov 2019

Nine times out of ten, the reason for the emergency calls is that the company has tried and failed to find someone themselves. Their HR team may have managed the process and have found them people to meet yet, the calibre hasn’t been good enough or the fit hasn’t been right. No one is to blame here, it’s the nature of the comms market.

This leaves the Head of Comms with potentially no handover or delayed cover and a panic call to their search firm (us) to work a miracle at the eleventh hour.

Now sometimes we can absolutely work a miracle and have the very person you need, however, due to the nature of the corporate communications market there are not a wealth of people available to start at short notice.

Let me share some knowledge on the corporate comms market –

· Our Salary Guide 2019 tells us that about 9% of the corporate comms industry are freelancing/in contracts at any one time. The pool is small.

· People in permanent roles are very unlikely to leave the security of a permanent role for a contract role, plus they will likely need to serve three months’ notice which is not helpful

· We know that the highest comms performers rarely look at adverts. Less than 5% of our in-house roles are filled through advertising roles as great people don’t look for jobs this way.

Six ways to avoid the headache when looking to fill a long-term contract –

1. If you have budget to pay for a search agency and your requirements are pretty specific, call a search agency you trust two months before your deadline. Don’t wait to call
them until you have failed to fill the role. The two months’ timeline accounts for sourcing time, interviewing time and a maximum one months’ notice the candidate may need to serve.

2. Be more open with regards to the candidate’s background and experience than you would for a permanent role.

3. Do expect to pay more for the contract role than the equivalent permanent role as the contractor doesn’t have the security of a permanent role, may be missing out on a bonus, may not be eligible for all of the company benefits which all needed to be compensated for.

4. Put a recruitment timetable together with your preferred search agency and agree on how many candidates you will meet.

5. Move quickly on the interview process as freelance candidates are often very active and potentially have other offers in the pipeline.

6. Note that your chance of filling a role is far greater if you work with one agency exclusively. If you brief multiple agencies, the agencies do not know if they will fill the role, which means they might or might not get paid. In face of such uncertainty they would only do a quick, top line search. On the other hand, if you use one agency exclusively, the agency will put all their energy into sourcing people for a short-list.

We have recently found great comms professionals for contract roles in management consultancies, huge real estate firms, major retailers and can short-list suitable candidates in 2 – 10 working days (depending on the role and level).

If you trust us to take on a role, we will move mountains to deliver on a brief. Our fill rate on exclusive roles this year is 95%. Contact us early to cure your contract role headache on 0207 903 9290 or email

As I’m sure you are aware, The Works Search is a search consultancy specialising in PR and corporate communications. We have unrivalled matching abilities and known for finding the top 5% performers in the industry - the ones who deliver and make your reputation great.

Salary Survey 2018 - 2019