A little over 2 years ago, I decided to leave behind 7 years in PR and move into PR recruitment. Maybe it had something to do with turning 30 and thinking “is this it?” I knew I wanted a change. For me, moving to PR recruitment was ideal, it provided the change I wanted but still allowed me to utilise my knowledge and stay involved with the industry.

Just over 2 years on, it’s been an interesting ride. From having been both sides of the fence, here are my top 10 things I’ve learned:

PR Candidates

1. Realise your value.

Now I’m on the “other side”, I can give testament to just how hard finding good talent is and the serious investment of time, money and effort that goes into it. Yes, there’s competition, yes you need to set your expectations, but don’t under-estimate just how much of a precious commodity you are. It’s easy to forget this when you’re struggling through a difficult week or haven’t got the promotion you wanted at your current job.

2. Meet/invest time in your recruiter.

I know you’re busy and there are a lot of us – select a great one to build a relationship with and do it. Letting your recruiter get to know you means they’ll be more invested in working harder to find things for you; and potentially challenge your assumptions to show you something a bit different. We deal with hundreds of candidates so building a relationship ensures you will remain front-of-mind. Think quality over quantity.

3. Let go of preconceptions.

It’s fine to have your agency or in-house “wish list” – I did too - but realise that often, the perception won’t match up with the reality. Experienced and expert recruiters have great insight into which agencies or organisations have a genuinely good working culture and happy staff, and which don’t.

4. Don’t freelance for too long.

This is something that I wasn’t aware of when in the industry - however when it comes to freelancing, more than a few years can harm your chance when competing for a popular perm role.

5. What are you searching for?

If you find yourself moving from agency to agency and continuing to be unhappy, the problem could be you’re in the wrong career. If that’s the case, consider a change to PR recruitment. There are a number of us at Capstone Hill Search who made the move and never looked back. We remain heavily engaged in the industry, and get to leverage many years of experience, knowledge and contacts in an entirely new and very rewarding way.

PR Employers

1. Culture is everything.

It’s the thing that keeps you going when you’ve cancelled your 3rd batch of dinner plans in a row to re-do a client proposal or get called into a last minute new business pitch. And I can vouch for the fact that’s one of the key reasons our candidates leave their current workplace. There are certain PR agencies or companies who have this down and have incredible staff retention – everyone is clamouring to work there and no one wants to leave. Be honest with yourself about where your company lies.

2. Following on: exit interviews.

If you don’t have them, then I’d seriously recommend implementing a formal process or at least a casual chat. When someone has handed in their notice, they are often willing to be honest in a way they wouldn’t usually be. And don’t think they haven’t already told their teammates the real reason why they are leaving.

If you spot a trend as to why people are leaving: that’s gold dust. Sorting the problem, take steps to stop it reoccurring and reassure other employees that you are addressing issues.

3. The “extra £2k” trend.

Often, employees will leave for what would have been a relatively minor increase for a company. Is it really worth the cost of recruiting someone new when you could have simply given that person a pay-rise? Similarly when hiring, don’t offer someone under what they asked for, if is at market value; it is a false economy. Is that saving of £2k really worth losing the candidate over?

4. Tear up your checklist.

Experience is only half the picture. More important (and difficult) can be finding the right attitude/culture fit. If you’re struggling to find the talent you want – take a look at your requirements. Do you have a 2:1 degree as an essential requirement? That’s out-dated in this day and age. A CV isn’t going to tell you “this candidate cancels plans and stays until 1am when things hit crunch point” or “this person has great experience but is a terrible manager”.

5. Invest time in your recruiters.

I’m constantly surprised at the number of employers that don’t’ see the value in investing in a recruitment partner. Rather than sending out a job spec to a handful of recruiters and seeing what comes back, investing time in getting to know your recruiter really helps us to sell and advocate for you as a company convincingly to potential new hires. Moreover, the knowledge that genuinely experienced recruiters have in their industry can be an incredibly valuable asset to tap into.

You know those clients that naturally go to the top of the pile agency-side, those that you are closest to; it exists in recruitment agencies too.

There you have it. A definitive list of things I’ve learnt.

If you’d like to discuss your next career move, hiring talent for your business, or just have a general chat about the industry, don’t hesitate get in touch.