Half Yearly Market Report – Trends in the Search Market

22 Sep 2015 by Sarah Leembruggen.

44% of the candidates we have placed over the past year have been from people we have approached either from referral or headhunted for a role. As a result, we have needed to be more proactive than ever in this market. We have found that our exclusive service has been very popular and we filled 80% of these roles in one month to six week periods. We placed 37% of candidates from advertising which goes to show that advertising isn’t necessarily going to lead you to the best person for the job.

Counter offers becoming standard practice

As headhunters, we work in the 60% of the market that we refer to as ‘passive’ – people who are not actively looking to move but will do so if we find them a really exciting role. Naturally, we pick the high performers and they all are getting counter-offered – something that has become standard this year. Based on the placements we have made over the past 6 months, PR and Comms professionals are looking at an average uplift of a very attractive 14% if they move in-house and an equally healthy 13% in an agency – this is in part a knock-on effect from a flat market and a period of unhealthy pay rises, but it’s most certainly food for thought. As a consequence, current employers are flying into action and doing their best to retain their high performers with counter offers, but 99% still move.

Which roles are hot this year?

In Corporate and Financial PR, there’s been a real demand for in-house senior level PR Managers (30% of all roles filled), while the demand in agencies is for Account Executives and Account Managers (17% and 18% respectively) with an increased interest in Associate Director roles (18%) this year.

It’s a similar story in Consumer PR with PR Managers being the most sought after roles in-house (23% of placements) and the same high demand in agencies for Account Directors (12%) along with more requests for Associate Directors. Many of the smaller agencies are actively growing their business, which has seen a need to hire at a more senior level to create a balanced structure within their teams, keeping motivation levels high and encouraging retention.

In Internal Comms, it’s the Manager and Senior Manager roles that top the list. Internal Comms has really come to the forefront this year with almost every sector introducing or expanding their internal comms function. We anticipate plenty more new opportunities opening up for professionals in this sector.

Who’s hiring for their PR teams?

We have placed a number of people in-house with law firms such as King & Wood Mallesons, private equity investment groups including Apax Partners, Boston Consulting Group and Deloitte, property firms Savills, Knight Frank, and Grosvenor, retailers such as Sainsbury’s, and asset managers like LaSalle Investment Management.

We have also found some really talented Directors/MDs for Headland, Powerscourt and FTI Consulting.

What are the in-demand skills?

In Corporate and Financial PR, clients are looking for people with new business acumen, senior level gravitas and a drive to grow business.

In Consumer PR, there is a definite demand for professionals who have skills and experience in more than one sector. An Account Manager who has experience in consumer tech, retail and lifestyle would be more desirable than a food and drink specialist.

For Internal Comms professionals, senior level IT transformation experience is very attractive to potential employers, as are excellent managers with lots of energy and broad-based experience.

How have we adapted to the skill shortage?

The majority of the briefs we handle now are on an exclusive basis – as we are filling 80% of these, we are giving our clients peace of mind. Working exclusively with our clients is the only way to guarantee getting the best people on your team in a short time frame.

We have hired two more Resourcers on our team and they are lucky enough to headhunt all day long, ensuring that we are in touch with the best in the market. There will be four further additions to the team as we look to build the business.

The Works specialise in placing high flyers in PR and corporate communications. We have a strong track record of placing with professional services and offer career-making advice. Do get in touch if you would like our support building your team.

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