Magazine article Marketing

Recruitment: Chasing the Best

Magazine article Marketing

Recruitment: Chasing the Best

Article excerpt

A dearth of high-quality, well-qualified candidates for marketing positions means companies are having to become more proactive in their recruitment efforts, writes Jane Bainbridge.

The days of marketing chiefs having the luxury of browsing through a stack of top-quality CVs when seeking to fill a staff vacancy are fading into distant memory.

The tide has turned in the recruitment market and the story is the same across marketing sectors: good candidates are extremely hard to find. Not that those on the lookout for a new role are complaining - they are in the enviable position of being able to take their pick of the vacancies.

So why is it that in a matter of just a few years the market has changed so dramatically and companies are finding they have to proactively sell themselves to attract marketing candidates of the same high standard they could previously cherry-pick?

In truth, employers are partly to blame: the cutbacks implemented during the recession are now leaving their legacy. Emma Brierley, chief executive of XChangeTeam Group, says: 'There is a particular shortage of people with two to three years' experience. We had a recession in the early part of the decade and people were either let go, couldn't get in, or left the industry and never returned. There was no investment in training and graduate places were limited; the industry is feeling the effects now.' Couple this reduced investment in people with a more buoyant economy and an increased demand for marketers, and the shortage of personnel is being felt across the board.

While some recruitment consultants point to a particular shortfall in experienced mid- to senior-level candidates, others say the problem is less obvious at the senior end because there are not so many opportunities.

Brierley suggests that one factor exacerbating the situation is that companies are too blinkered about skills. 'Firms are being very precise about what they want. For example, they will say they want someone with experience not only of search-engine marketing, but also retail. The dual effect makes it very hard to find people to fit the brief,' she says.

Richard O'Quinn, marketing director at Dial-a-Phone, defends the specific nature of his recruiting briefs. 'We have always looked for a very particular type of candidate, so we are fishing in a smaller pond,' he says. 'We are a direct response company, which is a tight part of direct marketing. If I recruited general marketers, they would feel out of water here. This is the sharpest or dirtiest end of marketing, so we look for people who already have this experience or are from retail but they are not likely to be general marketers.'

Richard Vickers, managing director of Michael Page Marketing, believes that it is particularly difficult to find companies that are willing to take on marketers from different sectors - such as tranferring to financial services from fmcg - and this is taking its toll on recruitment. '(Employers used to) control the market, but there has been a massive shift and convincing them of that can be tough. They need to broaden briefs and look at competencies not just for now but for down the line. If a candidate ticks seven out of 10 boxes, that's good now,' he says.

So what can companies do to better sell themselves to potential employees in this environment? On a very general level, they simply have to be prepared to market themselves; to promote their attributes, show the strength of their brand and give candidates the opportunity to ask questions of the organisation. With the best candidates invariably having the pick of several job offers, their selection is not just about salaries and benefits, but also factors such as how that company has dealt with them during the recruitment process. Vickers suggests clients should try to imagine themselves as the candidate and treat them as they would like to be treated themselves. …

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