What we learnt about the podcast industry from deep-diving 350 applications for a job as a show producer

We advertised a job for a Podcast Producer during the pandemic. The results are a fascinating insight into the current state of the podcasting industry.

This is what we learned:

The podcast industry is big business. According to PWC and IAB - the auditing firms that gather financial statistics - US advertisers were predicted to spend over a billion dollars in 2021 on podcasting advertising.

In May, The Joe Rogan Experience podcast was purchased by Spotify for a reported $250 million - a sum that will almost certainly make him the best-paid broadcaster in the world. (Guardian, 2020)

A quarter of the total US population listen to podcasts weekly (Edison, 2020) while just under 20% of the UK population are weekly listeners. The profile of listeners are paramour for advertisers as well, with the majority being young, affluent, and loyal to the medium.

In the past two years, the industry has seen an influx of listeners, revenue and content. In 2018, there were 18.5 million podcast episodes published on Apple Podcasts. In 2020, the figure stands at just under 30 million (Apple World Developers Conference, 2020).

This has all resulted in a huge growth in applicants entering the podcasting industry.

Gender

OneFinePlay advertised the role on the 5th June 2020. The ad was posted on LinkedIn, Work In Startups and Indeed (UK). On Indeed alone, 118 CVs with cover letters were received in the first 48 hours.

The job ad had only been up for four days before we took it down — but that wasn’t before over 300 applications were submitted.

Evidence from the outset would suggest a recruiter’s market but when taking a closer look that’s not so clear.

Let’s start with the basics. Out of the 300 or so applicants, the gender (or rather sex) divide is smaller than one may imagine.

*N/A = Non-specified, not answered.

This would certainly suggest any wider gender disparity currently in the podcasting industry isn’t down to a vestige of female or non-cisgender identifying applicants.

Education

An overview of the educational background of applicants shows that those looking to fill the role of Podcast Producer are generally well educated.

64% alone had bachelor of arts degrees. 9% had master degrees. The academic diversity in applications was also stark. Law, engineering, medicine, accountancy and science graduates applied. The inbox was also replete with drama students, music production graduates and political science majors.

The most common degree alone was BA in Film which accounted for 7% of total applicants. English and Journalism only accounted for 5% apiece whilst those without any higher education background accounted for a grand total of 8.3% of applicants. This figure is likely even smaller when you consider older applicants with more experience tend to leave out third level education on their CVs altogether.

Additionally, the national demographic of applicants was equally intriguing. 78% of applicants were from the United Kingdom. The remaining 22% was a cross section from across the globe. The most applicants from outside the UK were from the United States with 3.5%. Then surprisingly, Spain comes in second 2.1% and India third with 1.4%. Other countries like France, South Africa, and Germany come in with 1% each.

Overall, 34 different nationalities submitted applications. Despite this role being London based, only 80% claimed to be living in the nation’s capital. People applied living as far and wide as Bali, Abu Dhabi, Sydney, Los Angeles, and Cape Town.

The professional background of applicants also made interesting reading. Despite the perceived close relation between podcasting and radio, only 28% had experience in the latter.

Similarly, experience in filmmaking appeared on 29% of CVs received. Print and online journalism only emerged on 24% of applications. By far the largest professional demographic were those from television, making up 39% of all applications.

In total, 83% of applicants had at least one or more of film, television, radio and print/online journalism on their resumes. 49% had one of the four, but many candidates were multi-hyphenates with 28% having two, and 4.5% having three. Interestingly, no one applied with all four professional dictates included on their CV.

Another intriguing piece of information was the profundity of former BBC employees submitting. Over 15% of total applicants had previously been employed by the national broadcaster.

Relevant Experience

In the job description, successful candidates were required to have at least two years-experience producing content editorial. Despite this, 30% of applicants had fewer than two years’ experience, with 16% of total applications possessing no previous experience in production.

A combined total of 1391 years of production were in the applications, with candidates possessing an average 4.8 years. One individual candidate had as many as 36 years in production

Graph A: Individuals with 15 or more years of production.

Graph B: Individuals with 15 or less years of production

Relevant Skills

A second requirement for applicants to satisfy was to have experience using editing software: Premier Pro, Adobe Audition, Photoshop and InDesign.

Given the nature of the role advertised, a working knowledge of these applications is crucial. Surprisingly however, only 17% of applicants stated having experience with at least three out of four of the aforementioned software.

Employment

Equally fascinating is the employment rate of candidates. The vast majority were already working with 204, or 71.1%, of applicants identifying themselves as employed despite the pandemic.

This high number however could also be symptomatic of applicants wanting to appear employed and active rather than have a professional gap in their careers. In addition, many of those describing themselves as ‘employed’ did so as freelancers and, given the current global health crises, freelance opportunities have greatly suffered.

Conclusion

Evidently, the podcast industry is an attractive option for skilled, educated workers. It is an even more attractive option during a pandemic, where remotely recording, editing and publishing is perhaps more feasible than any other area of production. This would explain both the huge number of applications in such a small window, but also the variety of applicants.

From the advertised job description, only two ‘hard skill’ requirements were made. As mentioned before, candidates were charged with having at least two years’ experience producing content editorial and it was preferred for them to have experience using Premier Pro, Adobe Audition, Photoshop and InDesign. Out of all the candidates, only 12.5% satisfied these two criteria. This is perhaps less surprising than the following discovery however.

Astonishingly, only 50 of the 288 total candidates had ever been involved in the making of a podcast. This results in a diminutive 17%. A figure which shrinks even smaller if looking for applicants who had made, or were currently making, their own podcast: A microscopic 9%.

Applicants are more likely to be male but not drastically. They’re well educated with over 90% having third level education. Applicants don’t seem to struggle finding work either, with well over 2/3rds being currently employed. Podcast Producer roles have global appeal, with roughly 20% applicants either living overseas or hailing from outside the UK. Applicants are also professionally varied with over a quarter having more than one area of production on their resume.

Podcast jobs advertised on websites like Indeed, Working Startups, and LinkedIn, may have a tendency to receive applications that are not totally relevant. None of the advertisements were paid for, which might explain the diversity and generality of applications.

Most striking is the lack of direct podcasting experience. Perhaps applicants consider any production experience to be interchangeable with direct podcasting experience. This is obviously not the case. A broad analysis of candidates can reveal what recruiters don’t know about applicants, and as a result, can be revealing for an industry itself.

As the podcast industry reaches maturity on a global, artistic, and economic scale, we will begin to see candidates that are more specialised to the genre. In the meantime, successful candidates can be pleased with uncharted territory podcasting is expanding into. Conversely, recruiters will be excited to learn there is no shortage of trained professionals willing to explore.

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