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Employers, do you know how much MORE you’re paying your corporate comms pros?

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Posted: Mar 2022

It’s no secret that the current marketplace is a competitive one; as executive search consultants, we have certainly seen a notable increase in demand for people – and a shortage of great people to fill those roles. This is the case across corporate communications, in-house comms teams and strategic comms consultancies.

The number of vacancies is now outweighing the number of candidates on the market. And in turn, this means that the market is very competitive. Companies are battling to get the best of the best. Candidates are driving the market; they have a better understanding of the value they bring to a company, and they are demanding better treatment.

In this competitive climate, candidates know that they are in a strong position to negotiate significant uplifts when they move jobs. When we examined the salaries of all the professionals who we placed in jobs in 2021, the findings were even more surprising than we expected. The average uplifts our candidates received in their base salary when they moved jobs with us was – wait for it –an eye-watering 24%! That’s an increase of 11 percentage points from the previous two years (when the average uplift was 13%).

Why are comms professionals getting such big pay lifts?

It’s not just down to supply and demand issues in corporate comms, there is a national labour shortage across most industries. There has been a fair amount of job creation, as reported by Reuters, and more specifically for communications, there has been a boom in M&A/IPO transactions which means that companies require more communications support, and corporate comms agencies need to expand teams to support clients.

Alongside this revenue growth, we have seen industry sector growth such as the London tech boom. London access to venture capital/ financing means that the tech sector is continuing to attract newcomers, creating new roles within comms and PR.

What has happened to the supply?

The UK leaving the EU has means that there aren’t as many qualified professionals coming into the country. Unsettled by the pandemic, many people have found themselves considering their jobs with fresh perspective. Some quit, in what was dubbed the ‘great resignation’; some took the opportunity for a ‘great rethink’, asking questions such as ‘Do I really like my employers’ culture? Am I being fairly treated? Do I have the advancement opportunities I want? Does work feel as meaningful as I’d like it to?’ For those answering no to any of these questions, it has prompted them to reassess what they really wanted from their career; many have left the industry.

We also need to account for natural attrition and companies not immediately replacing roles because of the pandemic. This is leaving teams short-staffed, with an increasing workload.

Why are comms professionals asking for big uplifts?

Comms professionals know their worth in the tight labour market and they are asking for more money. We have seen high performing comms professionals getting multiple offers as future employers try and outbid each other, with current employers pretty much guaranteed to counteroffer.

We have noticed that professionals are asking for bigger uplifts than in previous years (quite punchy in some cases), as they felt they missed out on salary progression during the pandemic; they’re also mindful of the cost-of-living crisis.

Are these pay increases the same for men and women?

We looked at the breakdown of these salary uplifts for women and men. For once, we are delighted to report that women are fighting back when it comes to fair pay, as they did receive larger uplifts when they moved jobs. Women got an average 26% uplift in their base salary compared to men with 20%. Female professionals are getting savvier when it comes to their worth, and employers are making efforts to get it right.

So where does this leave employers who need to hire now?

The reality is, if you’re paying market rate or even below market rate, you are likely to struggle more than employers who have a larger budget to play with. Money talks when the supply is lower than normal. Of course, there are many factors which feed into a great opportunity when making a job move, but make no mistake, money is usually a top 3 motivator in a move.

Watch out for more insights and trends when we release our Salary Guide 2022 next month.


The Works Search is a search consultancy specialising in PR and corporate communications. We have unrivalled matching abilities and are known for finding the top 5% performers in the industry - the ones who deliver and make your reputation great. For more advice or market insights, do get in touch with us on 0207 903 9291 or email: sarah@the-works.co.uk

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