Career Guide Pulse of the Profession Thought Leadership

#PRin2016: New Year, New Job

chairs-1032870_1920

Editor’s note: Annually, we begin the year by featuring posts by industry thought leaders predicting key trends that will impact the public relations profession. Follow the series and join the discussion by using the hashtag #PRin2016.

Traditionally, the start of the New Year is always extremely busy on the recruitment front. Employer’s budgets are flush and potential recruits have made their new resolutions – to join the gym and find a new job (hopefully the latter lasts longer than the former).

There will also be various trends emerging in 2016 – some new to the market or many becoming more apparent.

Back and Forth: In-house/Agency: gone are the days when a person was either an in-house or an agency person. In 2016, we will continue to see senior PRs swapping one for the other. In 2015, we also saw top PRs taking what they thought was the dream move in-house, only to realize it wasn’t quite the holy grail.

Staying put: with the lack of senior in-house roles on the market in recent years, employers have been spoilt for choice. What that means is we saw very few people changing their industry focus. As the market becomes more buoyant, could 2016 move away from this change? The more senior a candidate, the harder this can often be.

Flexible/Remote Working: PR is finally waking up to the fact that the majority of the workforce (from Millennials to working parents) are more committed, loyal and engaged, if they have flexibility in their working week.

The Complete Package: PR agencies and in-house teams are becoming increasingly creative in how they approach remuneration – no longer reliant on the tired format of basic versus performance bonuses. (Soft) Benefits: Starting my career in London, one of the main disparities between there and New York was around benefits – the new, New York PR market is certainly catching up on the ‘headline benefits’ like holiday or 401k, and 2016 will also see more creativity in the softer benefits as well. Think: Career Mapping, Vocational/Charity days, Sabbaticals, Gym memberships.

In-the-black: Salaries, treading water at the top level since the recession, are now on the move. The PR industry is in rude health – seen as the more cost effective alternative to marketing and advertising.

The Merry-Go-Round: a result of salaries and confidence being on the rise is candidate movement. It only takes one senior PR to move to create a chain reaction, and 2016 will see this trend throughout the year.

Encroachment: avoiding the over and misused buzzword of late ‘integration’, we are obviously seeing PR, advertising, digital and marketing agencies increasingly competing in the same space. As a result, employers are beginning to desire similar skill sets from their experienced staff. 2016 will see further movement between creative agencies, but not just ‘trophy hires’ – where a PR agency hires one Head of Content or Creative Director and nothing really changes.

Smaller is better: increasingly our senior candidates see the appeal of small/medium agencies. Arguably more dynamic and nimble, they can roll with the trends and can often be highly innovative, coupled with greater access to senior clients as well as the offer of equity and to truly shape the direction for a firm.

Power shift: as the market grows, so does the shift in the Candidate vs. Employer axis. Make no mistake, 2016 is a candidate-driven market, particularly for PR agencies. Be ready to pitch or be pitched to!

The Death of the Resume: maybe a tad dramatic, but we will certainly see hiring managers becoming less reliant on the traditional resumes. The very best senior players in the PR world are not regularly updating their resume, especially if they have been in their current gig for a significant time. Online will (eventually) be the only place to see a person’s profile.

Tech Savvy: like online profiles, the way a candidate views their potential new employer is changing. The ‘about us’ page is now a video and this should be used further for the recruiting message. Applications via mobile devices are also on the rise.


Jamie McLaughlin is founder and President of Capstone Hill Search, a leading global specialist search and selection consultancy. In his role, Jamie manages an international team of Public Relations and recruitment industry experts to deliver outstanding service, expertise and insights to both candidate and client throughout the entire hiring process and beyond.

Leave a Comment