5 key takeaways for media job seekers as the pandemic and consolidation alter the industry, according to top recruiters

  • Layoffs have hit the media landscape in 2020, as consolidation eliminates positions and the pandemic forces companies to slash staffers.
  • But media recruiters say the industry is slowly starting to hire again, and there's growing demand for media in other sectors, as well.
  • There's still much work to be done as far as diversity and inclusion, though, with one recruiter raising concerns that job cuts could disproportionately impact Black staffers at the entry and middle levels.
  • Read Business Insider's list of the nine top recruiters in media to know right now.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The job market has been flooded with skilled media talent in recent months, as consolidation in the industry eliminates roles and the pandemic places pressure on companies to lay off and furlough staffers.

Recruiters who work in the media industry told Business Insider that they're spoiled for choice. But uncertainty still looms over the space. Hiring is picking back up, but several headhunters said it still isn't at the levels seen before the pandemic. 

Business Insider spoke with nine top recruiters in the media industry, who shared five key takeaways about the current market for media talent.

  • The market for media talent is strained, but talent searches are picking back up as productions resume. Even before the pandemic, media consolidation was shrinking the number of senior-executive positions, thrusting experienced execs into a competitive market where it was hard to find similar jobs in the sector, Korn Ferry's Bill Simon said. In mid-March, talent searches slowed significantly as media companies grappled with economic uncertainty and production shutdowns. Hiring is starting to pick back up now, and there's high demand in media for revenue-focused roles, such as chief revenue officers, heads of sales or distribution, financial chiefs, and chief operating officers. "There's a real positive psychology around seeing people beginning to go back to work," Simon said.
  • There are more opportunities today for media talent who can pivot to other industries, such as technology, retail, or consumer-packaged goods. As businesses look to content to build brand loyalty, from breakfast cereal brands to tech giants, a war is brewing for talent with media expertise, including creative, content, tech, and digital-product skills, several recruiters said. Katalyst Group's Wendy Doulton encouraged laid-off media talent to keep busy, taking up hobbies, side hustles, or volunteering. "You have to have a good story to tell when you're interviewing," Doulton said. "Recruiters are looking for resiliency and grit."
  • While some progress on diversity and inclusion is being made in the upper echelons of the media industry, Big Answers' Brickson Diamond worries mass layoffs across the industry will disproportionately impact entry- and mid-level Black staffers. Diamond, who helps clients source diverse talent and shift their cultures and governance, is also concerned that crew members of color will be among the first to be cut as productions resume with fewer workers due to the coronavirus. He wants to see which companies persist in their efforts to improve on diversity, equity, and inclusion, at all levels. "It's a hard road that takes a lot of work and a lot of stamina," Diamond said. "And, oh, by the way, we're a midst in the pandemic. And an economic crisis."
  • As legacy brands like Disney and WarnerMedia shift direct to consumer, new doors are opening into the media industry. Streaming services are starting to look to other consumer-facing industries for marketing leaders, Heidrick & Struggles' Mike Speck said. He pointed to Amazon, which recently hired Ukonwa Ojo from Mac Cosmetics as its marketing chief for Amazon Studios and Prime Video. Russell Reynolds' Nada Usina also said media boards are eager for members who have insights on how other pockets of industry are adapting to the ever-changing consumer landscape.
  • Media companies are thinking globally, fueling demand for executives who have led international teams. MediaLink's Kathleen Saxton, who leads the consultancy's expanding European operations, said candidates who worked in another country for even a few weeks or months tend to be higher up in the consideration set for leadership roles. "If you get the opportunity to go and work in another country for a period of time, take it," Saxton said. "It makes you a better qualified candidate."

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