What’s The Biggest Thing Missing In Talent Acquisition?


(By Laurie Kahn) We hear that finding solid sellers is a major challenge for almost all companies, especially in radio. We hear they can’t find people, that the right people don’t apply for the open positions that they are advertising, we hear that those who are the quality they need end up accepting jobs elsewhere. Why is this?

For many companies, the real problem is lack of accountability for recruitment. If I had a dollar for every person who tells me that they just don’t have time to recruit, I would be a rich woman.

With many managers overseeing multiple stations and digital products, with revenue being crucial to success, often the very tasks that can help them with revenue development are getting ignored due to “lack of time.” While managers may want to be the best they can, wanting to spend more time training those account managers they currently have, the majority will admit they are too busy putting out fires or closing business to invest the time they need to recruit and onboard correctly. So, leave it to the HR department to recruit. Wrong. Most companies don’t have the manpower in their HR departments to have them continually recruit as they are covering other tasks.

We should all know that the “right account manager” more than likely isn’t going to just walk into the manager’s office and ask for a job. It takes strategic planning, implementation, and follow-up. It takes research, call-out, and relationship building. It takes time.

Recruitment is, and will continue to be, a major focus for all employers, not just in media. It is even more so for smaller markets without a large labor pool.

The first thing that needs attention is accountability. No job profile for a Sales Manager or even a General Manager should be put together without recruitment as a major part of their job. Take it a step further and lay out what efforts should be made to build and maintain a pipeline of potential account managers.

Think about it this way, if you hired a new AE, and after a few months they didn’t have an adequate pipeline of potential accounts, what would you do? You would be very concerned about them being able to produce enough revenue to cover themselves and your investment. Then add the fact that it took several months to find and hire that new account manager and there is no one else in the pipeline to hire. You would not train or guide new hires to not have a full pipeline of potential accounts, so why would you allow managers to not have a full pipeline of prospective candidates to fill future opportunities?

We now are faced with developing a list of passive candidates, who may say “no” in the beginning but can be worked to get to that “yes.” This takes time.

Understanding and implementing changes to your operation take time. Again, start with adding recruitment to the manager’s job description and make it a major topic in meetings to ascertain what their pipeline looks like and if it is adequate to meet the needs of that station. Tie compensation into those goals. Be serious about this challenge and give it attention. It should be a topic in all companywide management meetings. It is a big deal and needs action steps. It will take time. But for those who invest the time and can embrace the needed changes, you will see success.

Laurie Kahn is the creator and founder of Media Staffing Network. She has worked with media companies since 1993 helping them hire top managers and sellers.


  1. Only because I feel obliged to chime in, Laurie:
    Where is the Creative that really will make the difference?
    After all, effective, locally produced ads would do wonders for the next presentation.

  2. My wife was the VP/Marketing of a large chain of furniture stores in SoCal,her broadcast budget was close to 10 million dollars a year. When she started there in 2006 the station reps calling on her were, professional, knowledgeable and mature. Over the next 8 years they were replaced by unprofessional, poorly trained kids. If these morons could get an appointment with her they usually brought a sales manager with them to act as a “closer”. She would bring their presentations home from time to time, they were obviously fill in the blank stock presentations. Cumulus had 6 different reps call on her from the same station in less than a year. She’d ask “What happened to Charlotte? New rep would say, “Charlotte quit.” …6 times in a year. How did the closer sales managers do? Usually they’d walk in,bend over and drop their pants instantly! My wife is a tough negotiator, but she’d come out of these sessions with free spots, prizes for in store giveaways, sports tickets for her boss and a rate cut on top of the in-house agency mark down. Radio sales is a tough job, it used to pay well, now it’s even a tougher job and the pay really, really sucks. A retired car dealer friend of mine told me over dinner a few weeks ago “the problem with the car business today is the management is terrible.” I think the same can be said for my old business. In many markets you have a rookie making minimum wage, or a little more, calling pros like my wife, she kicks their butt, the SM comes to the rescue only to leave bleeding from a thousand little cuts. The industry’s solution? More sales reports. BTW, if a GSM or SM doesn’t have the time to do the hiring and training of sales people, maybe the system they work under is wrong. Maybe they can get some more good advice from an investment banker.

  3. Excellent article Laurie. Having good prospective sellers in the “Talent Bank” is critical in the current market.


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