Darling, I know just the person for the job

Recession over, media sales headhunters are back on the warpath, says Nick Walker

More than most, media sales is a profession that revolves around contacts. Small wonder. The recruitment consultant - the "head-hunter" - is usually a former practitioner turned professional networker, and an increasingly important player in the more "hidden" areas of the media sales job market. This is especially true now that the market appears to be on that long-predicted upwards swing, after the boom of the Eighties and the Nineties collapse.

"Eighteen months ago, we would get one vacancy every two weeks," says Nicki Hill, partner in Media Place recruitment consultants. "Now, we would be unlucky if we didn't get eight to 10.

"Not only are people increasing their sales staff, but there is also more confidence to move around. During the recession, people were inclined to hang on to whatever job they had. Now, they want to move on - and up."

Enter the recruitment consultant. A consultancy such as Media Place would be approached by clients, generally more mainstream publishers and sales houses, to fill positions up to, and including, business director and publisher.

"We tend not to deal with the lower end of the market, the classified ads sales, the trade press ... Most of those positions are dealt with in-house. In 85 to 95 per cent of cases we approach people who don't want to leave their jobs."

But this is not just the easing of the recession. The growth in the use of the headhunter by the 8,000 to 10,000 who work in the world of media sales reflects the changing nature of the industry.

"More and more want to move across media," says Hill, who identifies a strong move to radio among key players. "Many are attracted by the challenge of a new medium. Although it's not true that someone is simply going to take their clients from publication to publication or medium to medium."

Julie Salamon, whose consultancy has recently placed international sales staff with Time magazine and an advertising sales controller with IPC, is also confident. "I think post-recession advertising managers have got more on their plate. The consultancy is simply the easiest route for a bigger slice of the industry."

Still, there remains resistance. One advertising manager at a large consumer publishing house in London would never consider approaching a consultant: "Media sales is about contacts. Look, if we didn't know of someone ourselves, it wouldn't be likely they would be the right person either."

"I don't like headhunting," says Simon Watters, business manager at Lipton Flemming recruitment consultants. "As the industry comes out of recession and begins moving again there is a shortage of people with certain skills, say those with two to three years' experience. A lot of consultants are headhunting for the wrong reasons. Like poaching someone they placed a few months back. That kind of headhunting is on a hiding to nothing." Or maybe not: only time - and the market - will tell.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Guru Careers: PR Account Manager / AM

£20-30K(DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a PR Account M...

Guru Careers: Account Manager / Account Executive

Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: One of the UK’s largest and most s...

Guru Careers: Marketing and Communications Manager

£Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing and Co...

Guru Careers: Digital Designer / Interactive Designer

£ Highly Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: A Digital Designer / Interactive Des...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence