Agencies hiring again as economy bounces back

SAN FRANCISCO: With the economy starting to bounce back, companies and agencies are hiring at a pace not seen in years.

SAN FRANCISCO: With the economy starting to bounce back, companies and agencies are hiring at a pace not seen in years.

"We've seen an avalanche," said Don Spetner, CMO at executive search firm Korn/Ferry International, who estimates that the number of searches are up 60% over this time last year.

Agencies such as Wakener Edstrom, Ketchum, Horn Group, OutCast Communications, and Ashton Partners are looking for senior talent. On the corporate side, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, TiVo, Bally Total Fitness, Walt Disney, Capital One, Maytag, DHL, Pfizer, and Burger King are also looking to fill senior communications posts.

Some companies have held off on hiring until now, says Smooch Reynolds, president and CEO of The Repovich/Reynolds Group, a recruitment firm. Others have decided they want different talent driving communications. And some have to fill recently vacant positions as talent is going elsewhere.

"A lot of companies are seriously thinking about their talent," said Reynolds.

Reynolds and Spetner are seeing this burst of hiring across the country and across all industries, although Spetner said it could be strongest in the Bay Area, which took the biggest hit after the dot-com bust.

Firms are taking as long as six months to make up their minds, and that is just too long, because the very best talent will probably have other offers and won't wait around, said Reynolds. She added that there could be a talent shortage soon, as many people got out of PR during the downturn. But she conceded that the industry is not there yet. Spetner agreed, as he is not having any trouble finding talent.

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