Services/Agency – Marketing Recruitment Review

(View Marketing Recruitment Review and Salary Survey 2016 as a downloadable PDF here)

Head of Services Recruitment at Brand Recruitment

Ben Phillips - Marketing Recruiter

Joining Brand in 2012, Ben took to recruitment like a duck to water and quickly established himself as Brand’s top biller, before stepping into the role of leading the Services team in 2014. Brand’s Services team covers all marketing roles within the not-for-profit, charity, public sector, education and professional services industries, as well as recruiting for agency-side positions.

Over the past twelve months across both services and agency marketing recruitment we have seen a steady increase in the number of opportunities available to our candidates. However we have seen salaries start to stagnate and have seen no real difference in the packages on offer compared to a year ago.

There has been a higher percentage of digital roles that we are recruiting for with more clients looking for online skills and also more specialist PPC, SEO and social media backgrounds. PR roles have been the most difficult to fill for us over the last year, with good agency-side PR candidates being harder to come by, possibly a symptom of the sector’s revival following the recession.

I have found when recruiting agency-side this year that agencies will often hinder their chances of hiring the perfect person for their role by sticking too firmly to salary bandings. A candidate will often come along with the right experience for an agency role, say an Account Manager, but employers are not being willing enough to go above their original salary bracket, even for the perfect candidate for the role, and even if there aren’t many others out there of the same calibre. This is frustrating for us when recruiting and for the candidate in question because we’ll have gone through the whole recruitment process, found the ideal candidate for the job, who naturally when moving from one Account Management role to a similar one at another agency, is going to want some sort of pay increase, particularly if they are moving in a sideways step. However, agencies just don’t seem willing to budge even for the right person, ultimately this means both the candidate and the employer are losing out. In these cases a more positive mindset which appreciates the return on investment that a good marketer can bring would be beneficial – paying someone £35,000 rather than £30,000 doesn’t seem such a big issue when that person is going to bring £100,000 worth of extra business to the agency that someone who is perhaps not as experienced or in tune with the needs of the market may have struggled to achieve.

When it comes to third sector marketing positions, the past year has seen, in general, an increase in the perceived value of marketing within third sector organisations. This for the most part, has seen more charity/not-for-profit marketing positions become available this year. Despite there still being a pay gap between positions in the third sector when compared to other industries, in my recruitment team we actually never find it too problematic to fill the roles within the charity sector that we are working on. This is largely because whilst the salaries may be significantly lower in this sector, what a candidate may get in terms of job satisfaction could be priceless. We find the majority of third sector marketers that we work with to be inspired by their jobs, the feeling of making a real difference, the variety of work and often the freedom for creativity.

In the past not-for-profit and charitable organisations could perhaps have been found guilty of ‘box-ticking recruitment’ in that they would only look for candidates of a similar industry background. However, I have found that charities are now becoming increasingly more flexible when it comes to the background of a candidate. I find the charities that allow the flexibility in terms of a candidate’s background and experience often recruit stronger and more suitable candidates that can bring that commercial element to the role. This shift has seen the third sector become much more commercialised. This has meant that working in the third sector is definitely becoming a lot more respected by ‘commercial’ organisations as success within it indicates someone can think out of the box. This trend of charities considering more commercial backgrounds certainly opens up some exciting opportunities for marketers looking to move into a more satisfying job and more rewarding sector.

It may not come as a surprise that companies within the professional services sector are, on the whole, still very traditional in their approach to recruitment and selection. When I say this, I mean that they are still largely only looking for marketers with a similar industry background and unlikely to consider people outside of this box. However, it works both ways and we do also find that when speaking to candidates regarding the type of industries they would consider, it’s often the bogey sector – marketers are more likely to say ‘I’d rather not work in professional services’. This is probably due to the bad reputation this sector receives in terms of its traditional approach, as well as all of the rules and regulations when it comes to marketing these types of products and services. However, over the past year or two, we have noticed an increasingly open mindset within the professional services sector when it comes to their marketing, and many small- to-medium size companies are choosing to bring their marketing in-house. This makes being involved in marketing for such businesses more engaging and varied, and offers more scope for creativity than an arrangement where most of the ‘fun stuff’, as it is often viewed, is outsourced to an agency.

Overall, it looks as if the coming year will present some interesting challenges and changes in the way we recruit, and in the approaches the agencies and companies we work with should adopt to ensure they attract and retain the best talent. We’re particularly looking forward to see how the shifts in the small to mid-sized professional services space and the third sector play out, seeing as our hunch is that these will open up interesting new opportunities for many of our candidates.

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