Mediabistro/BreakingMedia Smackdown

Earlier this week, BreakingMedia CEO and editor in chief Jonah Bloom expressed his frustration with trying to hire journalists and PR people.

“I used to think it was just me who had to dig for days to turn up a single good candidate,” he wrote. “Maybe…I just wasn’t offering sexy enough jobs, after all the jobs I was looking to fill definitely required some business reporting skills. But…in just the last month I’ve spoken to the editor of a section of a major national newspaper, the editor of a pretty-damn sexy magazine/web brand and a couple of editors of online properties, all of whom have been struggling to find the right candidate.”

What’s the problem, then? “There’s no single hub effectively bringing together employers in the media space with the right potential employees in the media space,” he says. Not even “I have nothing but respect for Laurel Touby’s entrepreneurship in building that brand, and certainly it’s the closest thing we have to what I’m talking about. But even the folks at Mediabistro know (and privately admit) that jobs posted to that site often result in an e-mail flood of unqualified candidates whose pitches very rarely seem to have been tailored for the employee.”

Now, Mediabistro director of strategy Bill Conneely is responding to Jonah; we’ve printed his open letter here. Click the jump to read the whole thing.

Dear Jonah,

As the former director of the Mediabistro job board and now the director of strategy for Mediabistro, I read your July 13 blog post “Why Is The Market For Journalists and PR People So Inefficient?” with great interest.

I had just addressed this same exact question for my intro to the July Mediabistro’s Media Jobs Monthly newsletter!

The market is not inefficient.

The difficulty you and others experience in finding the qualified candidates you are seeking for writing and PR jobs is the result of a tight labor market, not an inefficient one.

The first driving factor comes from the fact the overall unemployment rate for people with at least a college education is 4.5%. By just about any economist’s opinion, that is close to full employment. The second factor comes from the fact that what supply there is (all those out of work journalists we know) isn’t well matched with the demand (the kinds, location and level of the jobs you are offering).

What we know from our jobs traffic on Mediabistro is that lots of qualified people are looking at jobs like yours. But they are not applying. Why?

The most common reasons we hear are that potential candidates are not interested or compelled by the job description or career prospects of the job, or the company’s reputation as a great place to work is lacking. What this tells us is that the job market is working well from our point of view (and we do manage the #1 job market for media people).

In other words, qualified candidates already have jobs and what the market is offering is not incentive enough for them to risk a switch.

Any economist will tell you that when a market is working, and demand outstrips supply, the result is price pressure. This suggests that the real inefficiency is not in the market — it is in what employers are willing to pay in real cash terms and in benefits for qualified talent.

I humbly suggest that if employers cannot fill journalist and PR jobs, and those jobs are interesting, have career potential, and the company’s reputation as a place to work is stellar, they need to signal to the market that they pay more.

That is what Scoop Jobs at Mediabistro is all about. It allows employers to set their criteria and signal to the market that they are willing to pay for talent.

I hope this insight is helpful and furthers the conversation on a topic that is near and dear to all of us in the media.

All best, Bill