Moving jobs in PR – how much is too much?

When it comes to the PR industry, there seems to be an overriding acceptance from MDs and Senior Management, that talent ‘moves on’, on average every 2 years. More so at the junior level, where we so often see Account Executives striving for Senior AE opportunities, or recently promoted Account Managers eager to take the next step up. It’s almost as though, if an agency can’t offer a promotion within around 18-24 months, then that employee will look elsewhere for the progression they desire.

In our experience, a lot of PR professionals who aren’t ‘active’ in the market for a new opportunity, can often have their head turned by the promise of a more senior title, additional responsibilities and naturally, an increased salary. Which is great for those agencies who are recruiting, but where does this leave the PR industry as a whole when it comes to the expertise a PR team can offer their clients?

There is no questioning the fact that the PR market is largely candidate driven and that PR candidates are an ambitious bunch, which makes for a competitive and challenging recruitment process. Equally so for agencies, when it comes to retaining their top talent. More and more agencies are now offering a wide range of benefits, including flexible working, wellbeing bonuses, discounts on services, extra holiday & duvet days, and the opportunity to earn more through various bonus schemes – in an effort to keep staff happy.

Don’t get us wrong, there are of course PR professionals who stay long term in their roles and progress swiftly through the ranks within the agency they joined as an Account Executive, or those who maybe try a few agencies before finding the perfect home for themselves where no promise of more money, flexible working, senior job titles and bonus schemes are going to turn their head.

But for those who change roles more frequently, who are very driven and progress rapidly across numerous agencies, this must have a knock-on effect across the industry. Particularly when it comes to salaries. We’ve seen salaries steadily climb over the last 5 years or so and clients quite often comment on candidates’ expectations when it comes to money. It’s common nowadays for PRs to name their price, and more often than not, that price is a substantial increase from what they’re currently earning.

Changing jobs isn’t necessarily a negative thing. In fact, it can be a great way to try different ways of working, have the chance to work on different brands and in different sectors, and learn from a diverse range of PR people. Also, not every agency is for every person! Naturally certain people work better in certain environments, and as such it’s not uncommon especially at the junior level, for candidates to move on simply because the culture or way of working just wasn’t for them. Making the wrong decision about a new job happens, and agencies are understanding about this.

Moving from job to job only starts to become a problem when it’s too frequent. Staying in a permanent job for 6 months, then another job for 6 months, then another … understandably this level of movement can cause concern for a potential employer. Businesses want to hire staff who are loyal and can commit. Recruitment is expensive and the process of on-boarding a new team member every few months can be fairly disruptive to the existing staff.

Ultimately, changing jobs whether it’s for career progression, an increase in salary or simply because you need a change of scenery, is not a bad thing. Just be smart about it and make sure you’re moving for the right reasons.

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