Agencies look for new ways to recruit top talent

With an improving economy fuelling an increased demand for staffing, PR agencies are deploying new strategies to find potential hires.

With an improving economy fuelling an increased demand for staffing, PR agencies are deploying new strategies to find potential hires, from staging hiring Tweetups to launching competitions to assist job seekers.

Devries PR will give one PR pro a career makeover, as part of a month-long competition called Career Reboot.

The agency created the competition because it wants to be known for caring as much about people as it does clients, says Stephanie Smirnov, president of Devries PR. But she tells PRWeek “we also realized that this could be a really interesting way to think about recruiting.”

Typically, Smirnov says, an advertised position at the agency attracts resumes from candidates who fit a specific job description. With Career Reboot, she says they hope to “meet candidates who maybe we otherwise wouldn't.”

That might include someone who is looking to make a move from their current position, but is overwhelmed by the prospect of preparing for the current hiring market.

This year, the agency is also aiming to recruit employees with diverse backgrounds. That is why the competition is open to professionals interested in transitioning to PR, in addition to those already working in the industry.

“We are in a different business now largely because of social media,” says Smirnov. “The idea to bring in people who have different skills and have worked at different kinds of agencies who are not necessarily your traditional PR candidate seems very wise to me.”

To create buzz for Career Reboot, the winner will be determined by popular vote on the Devries PR Facebook page. While the winner will receive a full-day coaching session, Smirnov says “we'd love nothing better than to end up bringing someone on as a result of having met the person this way.”

In September, Edelman launched a Twitter handle for its recruitment efforts (@Edelman_Careers). As of press time, the Edelman Careers Twitter handle had more than 2,000 followers.

The handle was used to stage Tweetups in both San Francisco and, more recently, Chicago, which was also promoted through the individual Twitter accounts of some Edelman executives.

Both events attracted more than 125 people, and led to four new hires in San Francisco and eight positions are expected to be filled as a result of the February event in Chicago. “The quality of the candidates who came was outstanding,” says Natasha Avery, VP, recruitment of Edelman.

By using Twitter, Edelman is reaching followers who tend to be well-connected, and can re-tweet to their network. “It is traditional networking blown up a hundred times,” say Julie Biber, EVP, US recruitment for Edelman.  

“These Tweetups ensure it won't only be fresh out-of-college people, but also people who have 5 and 10 to 15 years under their belt,” she says. “We loved that – the diversification of all the candidates with all different years of experience.” 

As of March 1, Edelman had 137 jobs open in the US, with 90 of those “growth” or new positions and 47 of them replacement positions. Edelman will likely hold similar Tweetups in New York, Washington, DC, and LA later this year.

Scott Grubin, chief talent officer of Porter Novelli, says the agency continues to use both traditional and non-traditional approaches to talent recruitment.

“We continue to rely heavily on our employee network and word of mouth and are making increased use of a variety of social media vehicles,” says Grubin. “Several of our offices have even hosted informal meet-ups to attract talent.”

“What's so interesting about recruiting today is that there is willingness on both sides of the equation – agency and candidate – to try new ways to connect with each other,” he adds. “I don't see that changing anytime soon.”

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