Unsolicited job offers

A colleague of mine recently received an unsolicited job offer through the mail. Then the next day, she received another. Both offered senior positions in reputable agencies, without the need for interview. I can’t help wondering whether practices like this aren’t one of the root causes of churn in our industry.

The dynamics of a PR firm are fairly simple. You need to balance the number of clients you have, with the number of staff to serve them. Too few clients and you don’t make a profit. Too many clients and your team is overstretched. Neither is sustainable for long.

Staff churn is a concern for all clients and all agency principals. As the economy lifts, there is an imbalance – a shortage of highly skilled PR pros. Six months ago, that shortage was at the Account Executive level. During the downturn, few agencies were recruiting, so staff with 1-3 years’ experience were thin on the ground. As the market lifted, these were the easiest positions to create – so there was intense competition for junior staff. Now that has extended up to the Account Manager/Account Supervisor level.

Clearly some agencies are already feeling the pain. But resorting to mass mailing job offers smacks of desperation. And it’s fundamentally short-sighted, since churn in a competitor, will create churn for other agencies, which feeds the cycle. PR pros are not units of resource to be bought in through direct mail of offers. That shows a level of disrespect I find hard to credit. And ultimately, though it’s easy to turn someone’s head with a flattering (if unlooked for) offer, I’m not sure it’s the key to a long term career.

I know all’s fair in love, war and business. But ethics must come in to play. And treating staff like this is poor practice. I can’t help noticing that it’s the same agencies which were so swift to make layoffs in the downturn, that have already resorted to this desperate measure.

As a PR pro though, I know that’s how reputations are made. And we all know how important that is.