There’s a fascinating jobs market playing out across the UK right now, with opportunities aplenty for those looking to change things up. What’s happening and what does it mean for the communications industry?
by Darren Caveney
I’ve been doing a lot of work recently around jobs, recruitment and generally trying to help teams source good people for good roles. It’s a part of my own role which I really enjoy and it puts me in the fortunate position of getting to see and hear how the comms industry is gearing up to deliver over the coming months and years.
So, I thought it might be useful to share a few thoughts with those looking to recruit or be recruited.
Jobs, jobs, jobs
The comms2point0 jobs page have never been busier. As I write this there are over 30 roles up for grabs.
I’m seeing some key trends, and it’s a positive and buoyant market place.
Why is this?
I have been crunching the numbers pre and post-lockdowns to see what trends have emerged.
Whilst the pandemic has been truly horrible for so many, with deaths, mental impacts and businesses burnt, communications has seen growth, additional resources and – for some teams – an enhanced respect for the function and all it does.
The current situation
– Traffic to the jobs pages is up in 2021 – over 81k unique visits to the site this year include 11k visitors to the jobs pages alone
– Adverts from employers are up significantly on 2019 and early to mid-2020 levels
– The range of roles available is wide – from apprentice to director level
– The spread of new vacancies has been nationwide
– There has been a noticeable increase in more senior roles – at head and director of comms level
Post austerity, a pandemic wake-up call hit some organisations who had just cut their communications teams too far and too deep. Many teams couldn’t deliver business as usual and Covid comms. At its peak, Covid was causing changes in comms messaging, content and delivery on a daily basis. Many senior management teams were seeing comms at the coal face (in an albeit virtual way) and with the need to agree policies and messaging so regularly I think for some it was a penny drop moment for:
1. How vital good, planned communications was for staff and customers, patients, residents, communities and partners alike
2. How some teams were struggling with the mountain of work demand
What happened next
Some teams were given extra budget. Not all.
But, many did benefit from a small extra budget injection. My word they needed it for the colossal workloads they were getting through.
So why are there more vacancies around?
My take is this:
– Many management teams realised that their comms teams needed extra help so have backed them to recruit fresh interim or permanent support
– Some comms pros have reflected on the past 18 months and have decided to move on to new roles and this is creating vacancies
– Many comms pros have proven throughout Covid that they can work at a higher level and are seeking promotions, either internally or elsewhere, again freeing up opportunities
– Flexible and home working has opened up roles not previously on the radar for many comms people
– Restructures are still a thing for some and this too is offering up fresh roles, and opportunities for others to move on
As well as featuring job adverts on the website I have been writing job adverts and job descriptions for teams struggling with the capacity to progress their vacant roles.
I have been helping source interims for teams with fixed term only opportunities.
I have even been supporting organisations with recruitment search. I’m fortunate through my 25 years’ worth of network-building, and with my comms2point0 and consultancy hats on, to know a lot of comms pros, their situations, their ambitions and their skills offer. It’s a lovely feeling when you help connect an employer and a job hunter.
Virtual work and the removal of geographical barriers
One positive from the pandemic has been the opportunity for comms pros to apply – and get – jobs miles from home and previously out of reach to them. Organisations grabbing this opportunity to recruit new talent are to be applauded.
The smartest employers will attract the cream
Smart organisations have realised that they can recruit talent nationwide now. Daily commutes to offices are for many comms people a thing of the past. Something they don’t want to return to. Survey after survey has shown that workers want to retain a high ratio of home working as opposed to sitting in offices five days a week.
We’ve all just proved we can work from home and do it effectively. And whilst that brings it’s own wellbeing issues to think about, and we need to understand that many don’t have access to a good space to work from at home, the dye is definitely now set.
Some employers will panic at the thought of homeworking continuing for good. But the world has changed and I believe those organisations embracing the changes and opportunities will attract the best staff.
Organisations expect comms people to show flexibility. The employers need to offer flexibility back. Many are, more will follow, but some may seek to go back to the old ways of working. What kind of employer would you rather work for?
I believe we’ll continue to see:
– More remote opportunities
– Increasing flexible work options
– Shorter term contracts
– Higher demand for comms pros with the skills to deliver strategic planning, thinking and narrative development
– Continuing demand for comms pros with tactical skills – from podcasting to content creation, social media nous to crisis comms response
– Remote job interviews and assessments will continue
– Practice, practice, research, research – will continue to be vital for successful interviews
Through my mentoring work I have run dummy interviews with comms pros and post-interview assessed how well we guessed the questions which would arise. There are some classics interview questions which still crop up. But obviously many are tailored towards the specifics of the role and the organisation.
I have pulled together a Top 20 questions most likely to be asked at interview – if you have an interview coming up in the coming months it might be worth you running through them and rehearsing your answers.
Over the coming weeks I’ll be posting these questions – along with other job hunting ideas and resources – via the comms2point0 Toolbox and the exclusive comms2point0 eMag – Join over 2.8k other comms people who have subscribed. You can sign up to it right here
Darren Caveney is creator and owner of comms2point0 and creative communicators ltd