How to Attract and Retain the Best Media Talent

5 mins

In our latest Salary Survey, 59% of those surveyed will be looking for a new role this year....

By Amy Spring


In our latest Salary Survey, 59% of those surveyed will be looking for a new role this year. This is a significant increase on last year, so it begs the question; what are employers doing to retain & attract the best media talent?

The most common question we’re asked by our clients is how they can attract the best talent in an increasingly competitive market. This is, as ever, a candidate driven market, and its more important than ever to ensure employees feel valued, fairly compensated & have clear progression paths in their career in order to retain and attract talent. 

The top motivators for those looking for new roles this year were a lack of progression opportunity, and a desire for increased pay. This highlights the importance of regular and fair pay and progression reviews for employees.

Only 41% of respondents are satisfied or very satisfied with their current salary – this is even fewer than last year. Against the backdrop of the cost of living crisis, seeking higher paid roles in competitor agencies, or higher pay client side & outside of agencies is attractive to employees who typically experience working long hours in a high pressure environment, in often under-staffed teams working with demanding clients – employees more than ever want to be compensated fairly for all of these things. This is also reflected in 29% of respondents having left their last job due to a poor work environment. 

What do candidates want? 

To be challenged & fairly-compensated. 

How can companies do this?

  • Avoid waiting until employees have another offer elsewhere to increase salary/ give promotions
  • Clear progression plans in place & the support to achieve their goals
  • Strong L&D programs
  • Fair pay – companies should benchmark against the industry & ensure long-standing employees paid the same as those who have moved company


Overall, agencies offer some of the most comprehensive benefits packages that are also reflective of what candidates are asking for. These include healthcare, optical/dental care and flexible working. 69% of agencies offered flexible working as a benefit, and it was the most desirable. It’s less likely that agencies will offer 100% roles in planning & buying, as they require extensive client contact and cross-team collaboration. Most companies do, however, offer some form of work from anywhere for a set period of time, ranging from 2-6 weeks per year. 

Increased Flexibility

It's great to see increased flexibility, as it remains so important for retaining and attracting a more diverse workforce. On this point, this year, the majority of survey respondents were female. However, they still hold the majority of more junior roles across the industry. In senior management, the majority of respondents were male – and across the C-Suite this was even more male dominated, with 8% of respondents holding C-Suite positions vs 3& of female respondents.

This gender disparity is also reflected in the proportion of males vs females who received a bonus 57% male respondents received a bonus, vs 29% of females. This poses an important an on-going question:

What is being done to close the gender pay gap in the media industry?

To attract a more diverse talent pool, we would suggest:

  • More inclusive job adverts – women are less likely to apply for roles they’re not qualified for (Hewlett Packard). Men apply for jobs if they meet 60% of the required qualifications, women only tend to apply if they meet 100% of the criteria. Reducing the focus on the requirements/ qualifications section, and focusing on the future role responsibilities, growth, development and information about the company and benefits could encourage a broader range of applicants. 
  • According to Movemeon, women are 35% more likely to be hired than men – men compete more, but win less when it comes to job applications. Women are not only applying for jobs they’re more qualified for, but also getting them. Women also generally perform better in interviews, so more should be done to encourage them to apply for roles they are interested in. Most people leave their roles for a new challenge, so it should follow that a new opportunity should allow for development opportunities and prospective candidates should be encouraged to apply for roles in which they’ll be able to become the perfect candidate within the first 6-12 months of being in the role.
  • Hire for 80% – if someone ticks most of the boxes, can you teach the rest? Rather than waiting for the perfect candidate on paper (which can take a lot of time!), consider the candidate who fits MOST of the criteria, and can potentially offer different skills! 
  • Consider candidates who don’t have a university degree. This will open the door to candidates from broader socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds, and encourage a more diverse workforce. 

By understanding the motivations for employees changing roles, agencies can ensure they offer competitive salaries, sufficient learning and development and progression opportunities, and the benefits employees want. Employers can create a better work environment that retains and attracts the top talent and drives business success. 

If you have any questions or want to partner with the specialists in our media planning & buying team, please get in touch with Amy Spring –

Sphere Digital Recruitment 2022
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