For both the hiring organization and the candidate, competitions for Communications Managers are quite different than those for positions at other levels.
For the hiring organization, these positions are ones where the demand and supply clearly favour the employer. There are a lot of senior communicators in the marketplace, many of them with solid leadership experience. And, there are relatively fewer jobs at that level. However, it is still challenging for employers to find those good leaders and invite them into the competition. Managers are far more likely to stay put than communicators at more junior levels. Compensation is more variable at this level and many managers are tied to their current roles with velvet handcuffs. In addition, depending on their experience, candidates may have management titles, but may or may not have substantial leadership experience. Also at this level, the organizational structure in the company is likely to be of significant importance to potential candidates so if your structure is problematic, you won’t attract the quality candidates you would like. So, although demand and supply are in the employers’ favour, these searches are still not easy and are high risk/high reward decisions.
From the candidates’ point of view, finding the next Communications Manager role can be very challenging. The competitions tend to be a mix of strong senior communicators with some limited leadership experience wanting to “move up” to a manager role, well qualified communications managers looking for a change, and, very senior communicators/managers who are looking for an opportunity after a stint in consulting, working in other geographic locations, project work or other role. It is truly a case of apples and oranges in the same basket. And, employers may not really know whether an apple or orange will tempt them more until they see the basket. To prepare, candidates need to be sure they understand the needs of the role and are ready to provide examples and scenarios that clearly demonstrate their readiness. It can be a tough balance as too much emphasis on leadership may imply that the manager isn’t a working manager and plans to delegate everything. And, in communications it is rare that a manager isn’t at least somewhat a hands-on role. Alternatively, too much emphasis on the work can imply that leadership skills are weak or that the manager will not want to delegate appropriately. Thinking this through in the context of the hiring organization and their resources will be critical to success.