This article first appeared in Press Gazette
Last month marked fifteen years since I became a media headhunter. Much of that time has been concerned with careers in journalism. Which begs the question: what, if anything, have I learned in that time? Here are some things I didn’t know back in 1996:
It is astonishing how much the sector has changed in that time. The job titles themselves are indicative of these changes. While we still recruit MDs, Editors, Sales Directors and so on, we are now as likely to be working on roles like Head of Product Roadmap or Chief Scientist. As business models keep changing, so too do the attributes of the individuals who can add value.
In a tough trading environment, the difference between success and failure is marginal. Let’s assume that 5% makes all the difference. This means publishers squeezing 5% more out of their budgets; sales directors improving their profitable revenues by 5%; and editors getting 5% extra creativity out of a budget reduced by 5%. The same principle applies for the events and research sectors – indeed, for any business.
But how does a company achieve this? Well, it requires a senior team which is flexible, dedicated, and leads by example. And that means hiring the right people for publishing in a recession and, where necessary, replacing the wrong ones.
There is so much gloom and pessimism in the market at the moment that it is difficult to see any silver lining.
But here’s one:
Since we launched our headhunting business in March, our clients in the media sector have been extremely busy. Over the past eight months, they have retained us to find editors for three newsstand consumer magazines; an MD for a conference business; a sales director for a growing B2B publisher; editorial directors for two publishing houses; a publishing director for an online information service; and the editor of a national newspaper. In addition, we are currently involved in building teams in London and New York for a major news business.
Good news for us, obviously. But why is it good news for the market?
Well, it shows that our clients at least are confident enough to invest in their businesses. They believe that