MediaWeek: Does the media industry still offer a great career?

Originally published here on MediaWeek

As media continues to evolve and expand in scope, can it still attract the best graduate talent?

As graduation ceremonies take place across the country and a new wave of hungry (but naïve) bright young things seriously size up the workforce for the first time, is media an attractive industry for them?

From sales to production, journalism to SEO, data analytics and beyond, the broad scope of the business makes it an appealing but complex industry to navigate.

Many recruitment specialists still place the focus on the interaction with people and the ability to build relationships both within and outside the organisation.

But simply being a “people person” seems to downplay the growing need for strategic thinkers, tech-savvy innovators and data-literate graduates today.

For Kathleen Saxton, the founder and chief executive of The Lighthouse Company, there has never been such a “diverse range of exciting, challenging roles across agencies, media owners and tech companies”.

However, Saxton warns that “the industry must try harder to create parity in personal reward, both financial and motivational”.

According to The Lighthouse Company’s New World Talent Survey 2015, which involves more than 500 leading executives across the media spectrum, the financial package has become more of an influencer in people moving jobs in recent years.

The pull towards media owners continues to increase, with many attracted by the seemingly better financial incentives on offer.

The UK’s media sector is still recalibrating after the worst advertising recession since the war and the ongoing disruption caused by digital. Many companies do not even know what their “new normal” actually looks like.

Being agile is therefore more important than ever. But the result can mean unstable working environments and stressful conditions.

For the average graduate now carrying more than £50,000 of debt, such conditions, coupled with long hours and an average starting salary of £18,500, can be a harsh wake-up call.

There are certainly easier, more secure ways to make money. But is it still true that few industries offer such variety and opportunities?

YES – Anna Jones, chief executive, Hearst Magazines UK

“Media offers intellectual challenge and a rapid pace of change. Its variety of roles and functions means you should never be bored. The best practitioners are creative, innovative and resilient – great characteristics to develop.”

YES – Karen Blackett, chief executive, MediaCom UK

“The media industry continues to grow and evolve. A career in media allows you to harness analytical skills, digital knowledge and data management expertise. You can be surrounded by creative, smart, savvy, business experts.”

YES – Colin Gottlieb, chief executive EMEA, Omnicom Media Group

“Today’s media shapes the world we live in like never before. Our media ecosystem creates and reflects what is humanity. There are more worthy career paths, but few will be more fascinating and exciting.”

YES – Tess Alps, chair, Thinkbox

“This industry suits those ‘diagonal’ people who are both linear and lateral; who love both analysis and creativity. But we need to avoid boxing people into specialisms that give them poor understanding of the bigger picture.”