How media recruitment has changed over the last 15 years

Interview with Steven Dear on
“We are here to have a chat with Steven Dear, co-director with Josh Harrison of Harrison Dear Media Recruitment Agency. They have over 30 years’ media recruitment experience between them, so we wanted to find out how the media recruitment industry has changed over the years. 
Steven explains to us that the media recruitment industry has completely evolved over the past 15 years. When he started in the industry in 1999, consultants used traditional methods to attract applications for a position, including personal networks, desk-based research and placing adverts into media publications. Today the media recruitment process is fast, slick and efficient. By utilising digital tools, consultants are now able to find, connect and place candidates into roles much quicker than in the 90’s. But Steven stresses that at Harrison Dear the fundamentals of media recruitment haven’t really changed and whilst digital platforms allow for a much more streamlined process, the quality of the service to clients and candidates is still of paramount importance. Harrison Dear does very much believe in the importance of direct contact and networking with all the candidates and clients they represent and for this reason, they always complete face-to-face interviews and go to see their clients as much as possible. Steven admits that he much prefers to have a chat then send an email, but in general, the continuous communication with clients and candidates is much less having a chat over the phone, and much more about e-mail. Introductions tend to be made through email before an initial call or follow-up. He feels it’s a bit of a shame because that chatter and getting to know candidates and clients personally is truly enjoyable: (although he added that there are still opportunities for after-work beers with some contacts….)
Steven explains that another big change is that interviews used to be much more casual. More often than not they would take place after work, clients and candidates would meet in the pub, have a chat and a couple of beers, and the job was offered there and then. These days the process is a lot more formal and structured and involves far more people. He thinks that it has been heavily influenced by the American media recruitment processes, often involving multi–stage (eg.7-8!) interviews. As a company, Harrison Dear can be quite selective. They have completed their fair share of multi-stage interviews successfully, but once managed a seven stage interview (lasting three months) with a top candidate for a £100,000+ job, only to for him to fail at the final hurdle after a short meeting with the ultimate decision maker. Working with smaller companies in which media recruitment happens in a more straightforward way, can be a lot easier.
He also believes that clients have also become more difficult to satisfy, which is completely understandable given the modern pressures of ROI and stronger competition for adspend in the media marketplace. He also mentions the lack of good candidates in the marketplace and that he believes this is down fewer graduate/entry level candidates entering the market in the first place. With competition for the best candidates being so fierce, media sales tend to lose out to agencies however as media owners merge with cool tech, he is hopeful this will be reversed.
One of the causes of fewer opportunities at entry level is that companies now don’t want to lose the experienced person who is currently working with them and achieving sales targets, so they are paying more to retain them instead of employing graduates.  The media recruitment process at entry level is much slower.
Steven states that with the rise and proliferation of sites like LinkedIn, media recruitment has become much more competitive. Recruiters in the past were regarded as sales people, however in the digital age; they need to think more like marketers.  A good consultant is one that puts a strategy behind their approach. However, the main priority for consultants going forward is the requirement to build relationships and network – online and offline. Over 60% of job seekers are passive, meaning they wait for recruiters to come to them, rather than conduct their own job search.
Steven thinks it is an exciting time for the media recruitment industry; technology has provided much more ingenious ways to attract candidates. However, with digital being ubiquitous, there is a belief that it is now easier than ever to set up a new media recruitment agency, all you need is access to the internet, a desk and a phone, or even just a sofa and a mobile from home! Steven comments: “if only it was that easy!” and many new entrants to the market soon find out the hard way.  Building excellent relationships with clients is vital to understand what they are looking for, but this can be difficult with the time pressures that the industry is under. A fully formed brief and understanding of the clients’ business, marketplace and culture will provide a much better basis for success. Harrison Dear endeavour to understand best what their clients are looking for, sending fewer but better quality candidates making the process much quicker and less laboured for all involved”.steve-2-219x300