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Struggling to Recruit and Retain Quality Talent? Here’s What to Expect in 2022

Annie Hayes

Advice on the key recruitment trends for PR recruiters in 2022 as job vacancies spiral and demand soars for communications and public relations talent.

Whether you’re in a PR agency or in-house PR team, you may have noticed it’s a busy time for recruitment and many organisations are struggling to recruit and retain quality talent. 

According to PRWeek Jobs, average job applications over the festive period (1st December 2021 to 5th January 2022) were up 208% on the same period the previous year. The first month of the year is normally the busiest in terms of recruitment activity and the first quarter of the year sees an average of 34% of the entire year’s applications, based on 2020 and 2021 PRWeek Jobs data.* This bodes well for those looking to recruit between now and March. 

Here are some key trends to help inform your search for quality PR talent and help you stand out in this tough market:

Digital leads: E-recruitment continues to drive hiring, and the hangovers from the pandemic including Zoom/Teams interviews are set to continue as employers and candidates indicate it to be a preferred method of hiring selection. The PR industry also needs to live and breathe its sector and employer branding via social media storytelling which is a crucial part of imparting what the company stands for and what it’s like to work there, not to mention its PR wins and highlights. Flaunting it is part and parcel of the industry's backbone and ensuring this filters through to recruitment is crucial if your business is going to appeal to key talent.

Freelancers and crisis PR expertise in demand: PRWeek Jobs reports that in January, most new year searches were for director and head of communications roles. Added to this is the demand for those specialists that can spin a bad news crisis into a good one and manage a crisis as and whenever it occurs. Freelancers are also touted to be back in popularity as employers seek to fill skills gaps and fill vacancies with temporary staff.

Remote working is here to stay: The pandemic has re-set attitudes towards presenteeism and many employees have become comfortable with hybrid working models which allows for part-time, remote working and more flexibility. PR recruiters must be mindful of this and the opportunities it presents for tapping into previously out of reach talent pools that may not ordinarily apply when physical location is a barrier.

Diversity and inclusion top the agenda: PR companies exist to serve a diverse client base and in turn recruiting a diverse talent pool is the best way to represent and acknowledge the needs of their customers. In practical terms this means focusing requirements on ‘competency’. Hiring for ‘cultural fit’ can be subject to unconscious bias and exclude some BAME applicants. Ensuring the process is equitable and fair can be evaluated with the use of AI screening tools. 

Smash the stereotypes: PR is often considered to be a young person’s game and that of the outgoing, but this is often a myth. It’s important to build your messaging about the range of jobs within the business and that ‘one size does not always fit all’. Networking at a range of industry events and showcasing the existing diverse talent pool are great ways of removing the barriers.

Hiring within: A trend to nurture home-grown talent continues to exist and be an important part of the recruitment strategy. Training and development and recognition of employee growth is part of the employment cycle and it’s important that existing PR specialists are given the opportunity to develop their talents. 

Talk to us about how PRWeek Jobs can help you build and communicate your employer brand or recruitment marketing. Email to discuss your needs and bespoke special packages.

*PRWeek Jobs Insights, Madgex

Annie Hayes is a specialist HR, skills, careers and L&D writer with 19 years’ experience in the sector.