OPINION: Search for big hitters should start at home

For some months, recruiters have been battling to put bums on seats in the theatre of media sales. The ad managers down in the stalls have been in particularly short supply, but it has still come as something of a surprise to see gaps appearing up in the boxes, where the ad directors are supposed to sit.

For some months, recruiters have been battling to put bums on seats

in the theatre of media sales. The ad managers down in the stalls have

been in particularly short supply, but it has still come as something of a

surprise to see gaps appearing up in the boxes, where the ad directors are

supposed to sit.



The Sun, The Mirror and newly restructured Emap Advertising have all been

looking for a top quality ad director since March. Clear Channel

International is also thought to be on the hunt for a big-hitter to fill

an international sales director role. Naturally, these would all be

enormously challenging roles but they are also prestigious jobs that would

elevate the selected candidate to the very top of their trade - which

makes it remarkable that none of them have been filled as I write

this.



There are individual reasons why each post might be hard to fill, but

there are also ’issues’ common to all three jobs.



In each case, given the calibre of the candidate being sought, there are

probably only a dozen people in the industry who are genuinely suited to

the job. That means the recruiters are fishing in a very small pool.



At this very senior level, potential candidates will have formed very

strong opinions about who they will and won’t work for, and are often

entrenched in the ranks of their current employer. So out of that notional

’dozen’, a handful would not even consider the post in question.



The grapevine in our business is a powerful medium and this can also cause

problems for the recruiters. If the vacancy is not filled quickly, rumours

of people turning down the job abound, making prospective candidates

increasingly wary of the role.



It is also questionable whether the right recruiters are being used. Media

owners seem to have a tendency of turning to one of the City headhunting

companies when they need to fill a top spot. I doubt these City outfits

know as much about potential candidates as the bosses who are doing the

recruiting.



I have also heard people blame a dearth of talent in the industry for the

unfilled vacancies, but I’m not sure I buy that. There are plenty of

bright, enthusiastic and well-connected sellers, buyers and planners in

the business. What might be worth scrutinising, however, is how well they

are being brought through the ranks.



Perhaps the bosses at The Sun, The Mirror and Emap have over-estimated the

quality of candidates outside their organisations and underestimated the

quality of those within. It is always tempting to look around but these

media owners might have been better appointing one of their own.

Recruiting internally sends out all the right messages. Great managers

frame great succession plans.



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Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).