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Consultants 'encouraged' by jobs thaw
08.08.10 | Victoria Gallagher
Publishing consultants have noticed a more "positive" mood in the jobs market over the past few months with publishers looking to recruit "new talent".
Over the past 18 months the industry has been subject to pay-cuts, recruitment freezes and redundancies, with jobs going at Penguin, Random House and HarperCollins.
However, since May recruiment consultants have noted an upsurge in companies seeking new recruits, with digital roles most in demand. Retail figures were also relatively upbeat this week, and July has been the first month of 2010 with year-on-year sales growth. According to Nielsen BookScan, sales over the four weeks to 31st July were up 0.1% year-on-year in value terms.
Suzy Astbury, executive consultant at Inspired Selection, said: "The market has picked up a considerable amount over the last three months. There has been a general change since the end of the financial year. All the restructurings have generally stopped—they have re-grouped and many people are getting promoted, so we are seeing quite a few more entry-level jobs, which is great for graduates." She added that digital roles are also rife and the general mood was much more "confident".
Some publishers said they were seeking to add to their staff. Helen Kogan, managing director at Kogan Page, said: "I will probably add to our headcount over the next year by about 10%, mainly because I think we need specialist skills, specifically in marketing [and] to do with the digital economy . . . It’s a good time to recruit, quite honestly. I think there are really good people with great skills out there who are just looking for the right job."
Ian Chapman, managing director at Simon & Schuster, agreed: "We are looking to take on new talent. It’s encouraging that it is not as depressing as the beginning of last year when the likes of Penguin and HarperCollins were making redundancies. I’d say the [job] market is encouraging but no more than that."
Theresa Duncan, manager at Redwood Publishing Recruitment, said she has been "considerably busier" since March. She added: "I think there has been more confidence in the marketplace. The whole change of government had something to do with it; people were waiting until the election." She said although there had been fewer entry-level jobs there had been a growth in recruitment for STM, education and academic publishers, with digital and online roles popular owing to the onset of the digital age.
Despite a growing optimism, redundancies are still taking place as Octopus announced last week it would lose nearly 30% of its staff, a total of 29 people. Ros Kindersley, managing director of JFL Search & Selection, said despite some continuing job cuts, they are now being "counter-balanced" by an increase in activity in recruitment. Kindersley said this was due to the publishing industry evolving and needing people with new skills alongside people who have been in roles for several years with no promotion or pay rise now moving on. However, she added that the economy was unlikely to revert to its pre-recession position.
Managing director and founder of the Meridian Consultancy Group John Broom said: "In no way could the present recruitment activity in book publishing be described as a boom. It varies between patchy and at best steady." He added: "This said, unless the economy suffers a double dip, I am sure employment numbers (in publishing) will, within the next two years, be back where they were in 2008/09 before the various job cullings took place across swathes of the industry."