With some 120,000 public relations job postings on ZipRecruiter alone, almost every agency in the U.S. appears to be scrambling to identify and hire talent. But the process often takes more time than anticipated since most firms are increasingly selective about the talent they want to hire.

Many firms are expanding their searches to consider non-traditional PR pros even though they are aware of the risks and related training that will be required. Unlike in the past, hiring managers are more open to hiring employees who are returning to work after taking time off for family or other reasons as well as those who simply want to change careers.

To address this new employment phenomenon, the PR Council next week is launching an innovative pilot program that provides some of the essential knowledge needed to be successful in agency positions. And the six-week online program is totally free.

The Relaunch Series Certificate program consists of eight recorded webinars on key topics including client relations, campaign creation, data & analytics, earned media, measurement, media relations, research and strategy, all of which are taught by PRC agency Member firms. The program begins Oct. 4, but registration is rolling and participants have until Nov. 12 to sign up and participate.

Upon completing the course, certificate holders are allowed to upload their resumes to the Council’s career portal that is a key source of talent leads for the organization’s 130 member agencies. most of which have been in an aggressive hiring mode this year.

“We’re hoping this unique talent pool will become interested in exploring or relaunching careers in our fast-growing industry that values curiosity and creativity,” explained Andi Hughes, PR Council vice president. “The country’s most successful PR firms are in search of talent with three-to-10-years of experience and transferrable skills; diversity of every kind being highly prized.”

Andi confirmed agency growth has resulted in a significant labor shortage, particularly in the fast-growing areas of health, technology and data & analytics. “Agencies across the country are offering competitive salaries, attractive benefits and innovative perks to attract talent to these areas of specialization,” Hughes added.

Agency leaders, including SourceCode Communications co-founder and managing partner Becky Honeyman and Walker Sands’ head of talent Allison Ward, enthusiastically endorse the Relaunch Certificate program,

“As an industry we need to build agencies, teams and campaigns differently if we’re going to make the most of the opportunity ahead,” Becky told Culpwrit. She describes the Relaunch Series as “a significant step in the right direction – by opening the door to diverse talent, different experiences and new ways of thinking we can evolve our agencies and our industry to better reflect and engage the world around us.”

Recognizing the changing workforce and underscoring the importance of the new certificate program, Becky’s firm this year launched WeRaise PR, a full-service agency incubator dedicated to advancing working mothers in the PR industry.

Allison Ward said her B2B-focused agency benefits significantly from hiring candidates with non-traditional backgrounds.

“Veterans, parents returning to corporate work and career pivotors – whose skills are not only incredibly applicable bring unique experiences that provide us with new perspectives and contribute to our culture,” Allison explained. “The Relaunch program helps act as a bridge, connecting talent to resources and opportunities and agencies to that talent.”

University alumni officers should share this innovative certificate program with their past graduates, many of whom may be thinking about restarting or reinventing their careers.

Kudos to the PR Council for another important initiative that builds on a favorite program of many of my students and Culpwrit readers, the Agency-Ready Certificate program conducted in 2020 and earlier this year.