Laurie Kahn, President/CEO of Media Staffing Network, has a passion to help people connect for the right job, thus has developed tools and practices to help make the hire right the first time. We asked her 7 questions that help put into context the state of recruiting, hiring and employment in the media industry.

1. You have been recruiting in media for over 20 years. What are the biggest changes you have seen?

Media has grown as an industry; we now have many different platforms and models. Between more media platforms hiring and the low unemployment, we are seeing many media companies struggle to hire and retain employees, especially in sales. It is a very competitive hiring marketplace, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

2. How has that affected the media business?

For the first time in decades, media companies are competing for candidates with businesses across their entire community and not just their direct competitors. Compensation models must change to allow managers the flexibility to hire from different industries and to offer a longer security period. Perks and benefits need to improve to attract the younger generations. In many cases, companies need to revamp who they are looking to hire and open parameters when comparing prospects. To stay on top of employment needs, a media company really needs to completely change how they have handled recruitment and hiring in the past.

3. What do you see as the biggest challenges media companies face in hiring?

Most media companies have not taken talent acquisition or recruitment seriously. Even though they invest in research to increase audiences and sales training to boost revenue, they often don’t make the needed investment in this important first step to building a strong team. Managers are not held accountable and recruiting is always the first thing that falls off their to-do list. If media companies don’t put major changes in place and add a budget for this crucial part of their company’s growth, they will continue to struggle. Not having the right people can break a company, so while many companies have been more reactive in their recruitment process, a more proactive approach needs to be in place. In addition, the younger generation trends show that tenure is one of the biggest issues companies will face going forward.

4. In your experience, what can a media company do to better attract and keep good workers?

There are many solutions to better hiring, but the most crucial is the lack of recruitment training for managers. The whole process of hiring has changed, and media companies need to adapt to the new practices.Many media companies share that they don’t have quality job seekers approaching their hiring managers, so there needs to be more emphasis on researching and building relationships with passive prospects. That leads to stronger marketing campaigns, which establishes credibility and positioning as an employer of choice. Managers need to learn to change how they interview, how to onboard new hires, and how to keep those who are doing well engaged. More social media presence is essential, and without the right tools and training in place, more harm than good can be done. Talent acquisition needs to be a major focus for all media companies, large and small.

5. We hear a lot about culture in the workplace. Does that really make a difference to a job seeker?

It’s huge! It is an employees’ marketplace, and in many cases, they can pick and choose where they want to work. Statistics show that before someone accepts a meeting to learn about an opportunity, they will thoroughly check out the company, the leadership, and more. It is important to have a positive reputation and to be known as a company that invests in their people. Candidates will look for growth potential, training, support, a fun environment, and most importantly, the ability to deliver what they are selling, to give back to the community, and to have a strong work/life balance. It is crucial to let potential candidates learn about your company via webpages, LinkedIn and Glassdoor. 

6. As budget season is approaching, what all should be on a company budget towards recruiting?

According to studies, today it costs approximately $4,200 to replace an unskilled worker. Depending on your turnover rate, and the amount of growth you expect, you can start there. Keep in mind that is a low figure – the higher the position, the more it will cost. We see costs running anywhere from 100-200% of the cost of the departing employee, which is why hiring the right person and retaining them are so vital.

7. What are the biggest misconceptions LMA members may have about your services?

Probably the most glaring is about costs. Some people don’t see the ROI in investing in recruitment, but they don’t understand how many hours it can take to find the right candidate. When they rush through the recruitment process, squeeze it in between their daily jobs, it doesn’t work and can end up costing the company more money in the long run. We had a client who needed a diverse candidate in a management role in a smaller market, and it took us over 1,500 reach-outs to find that perfect candidate. Another project we have reached out to over 600 prospects, so it is very time-consuming. We do a lot of training with the hiring managers, help with job profiles and do a lot to position the opportunity. We focus on passive candidates which most companies would not be aware of or able to land without our assistance. Most importantly, we want all to know we have a variety of solutions, starting at $100.