Dear Agency Owner: You Snooze, You Lose!
The market for PR talent has become extraordinarily competitive. While demand for talent is sky high, supply is low.
Agency owners must realize that now is the time to adjust their hiring strategies to align with this tight market. Meaning, I can't bear to hear another agency owner rattle off a fifteen-point wishlist for their subsequent placement. As I've discussed previously, now is not the time to look for unicorns. If you continue to search for your dream candidate, you will miss out on the few candidates that are available (and getting snapped up by your more realistic competitors).
Now is the time to look for intelligent PR people with a relevant skillset, if not the vertical expertise for that wish list. Because they can learn, very few on the market are doing EdTech, but I imagine many of the currently available candidates will get the hang of it soon enough. Not only can they learn the vertical expertise, but I expect they can thrive if they are open to learning. After all, a good PR person is usually a quick study.
It is also the time to pay candidates competitive salaries. Trust me when I tell you this is the only way you will secure a single placement out of the current candidate pool. Everyone is quickly swept up. Other employers already understand how tight the job market is. So, if you've been paying your account executives $55,000 a year and think you still can, you're gravely mistaken. Good AEs can expect to earn $60,000 to $65,000 a year right now. Look at what other firms offer and match the market rate if you hope to nab a competent candidate.
Finally, if you snooze, you lose. Agency owners do not have the luxury of a lengthy hiring process right now. Don't think you can take your time securing a hire by dishing out a series of interviews and tests and taking weeks to deliberate. While you were asking your candidate to meet with two or three internal teams, another company already swooped in to land them before they even took your writing test. There is no time for games in this market. If you want a candidate, you must be able to expedite your interview and hiring processes.
In summary, agency hiring managers must shorten the cycle, increase the pay, and stop being picky. If you want to hire people, start doing these three things, and you can officially be called a contender in today's cutthroat market.