Our Top Tips On Agency Recruitment

6 Tips For Getting It Right First Time, Every Time.

The scarcity of talent is one of the biggest challenges agencies face when looking to grow. Digital growth is far outpacing the sectors ability to develop skilled talent, great creative minds are always in short supply and there’s always another agency willing to pay more to attract your Account Handlers who can generate revenue growth.

When someone resigns from your agency it can therefore create a major headache replacing them. The longer a search takes, the bigger that headache becomes as existing staff have to cope with balancing their own work and covering the gap. Doing so quickly and most importantly, effectively, therefore, can give you a big advantage over your peers. Better Placed’s agency team are fortunate to work with an extremely diverse range of agencies, from small independent boutiques to major international networks. We’ve seen what works and what doesn’t when recruiting for agency talent.

Here’s a combination of the top six tips to ensure you attract the best people, first time;

Produce a proper job specification
A great candidate will not be short of agency opportunities to choose from. It’s not uncommon for an experienced Account Manager or SEO Executive to have job offers within 72 hours of starting their job search. Good candidates therefore want to know exactly what they will be doing at your agency. A well-written job specification is your first opportunity to get a potential hire excited about your agency – a list of duties, information on the type of projects and clients they’ll work on and what makes your agency a great place to work, should be the minimum that’s on there. It demonstrates that your agency is well run and has thought out this potential hire creating a positive impression with job seekers. So take the time to develop a detailed job spec, or enlist the help of a specialist recruiter who can aid in the development of this.

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Define your culture and values
“We want people who are nice to work with”. “It’s a fun culture”. Time and time again we hear vague definitions of an agencies culture like these. In a creative sector, it’s not very creative! What makes your culture fun? What common characteristics do your most successful people demonstrate? What are your values? Consistently we see agencies who have clearly defined their values and know how to assess potential hires, be amongst the most successful in attracting and retaining the best talent.

Consider the medium and long term, not just the now
It’s actually quite rare to find someone who ticks literally every box on a job spec and list of company values. Candidates will apply who lack experience in a couple of areas but demonstrate high potential for the future if given the right training – but do you have the resources to provide this? Other’s might have all the experience but are looking to progress very quickly – can the role provide this rapid progression without leaving you with a gap? These are just a couple of examples of the questions that you can be faced with during a recruitment process when the short term need to get someone in can be the most pressing thing on your mind. So consider these beforehand and where possible stick to them. This might mean turning down someone who has a brilliant skill base and fits your culture well, but if they’re only going to become disillusioned in 6 months’ time, its probably better in the long term!

Implement an efficient and consistent interview process
The ability to move quickly when good talent becomes available is essential with such competition in the market. As I’ve already discussed, good candidates can be snapped up in a matter of days. But equally as important is the need to be consistent and efficient in how you interview. If you’re going to compare candidates against each other, a consistent approach, conducted by the same people is essential. The first interview for so many agencies is “just an informal chat” when it should be an opportunity to properly assess someone’s experience against the job spec. Rejecting someone after a second interview rather than a first because you’ve realised they didn’t have a key skill, is a hugely inefficient use of your time – but something agencies are guilty of on a regular basis.

Invest time in the relationship with your recruiter
Often, the first time a great candidate becomes aware of your agency and role is when your recruiter briefs them. Your recruitment partner needs to be your brand advocate, ensuring that candidates get a true picture of your business and why it would be a great move for them. How do we do this – by gaining a true understanding of your agency, the role and the other things I’ve mentioned in this blog. A recruiter can help you develop your job specification and define the aspects of your culture that will make you attractive to the best talent. We will also advise and help shape your resource planning, but only if you let us. Taking the time to meet with your recruiter – as you would with your clients – enables us to represent you effectively in the marketplace and ensure the first impression candidates gain of your business, is a positive one.

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Consider your benefits
A competitive benefits package can be as attractive as a generous salary for the best talent. Enhanced pension schemes, flexible working patterns and healthcare schemes, in particular, can help make you attractive to top candidates at relatively low cost. Do you have dedicated training budgets, free fruit or “beer o clock” on a Friday – you’d be amazed how often agencies forget to advertise these things to prospective hires, despite the fact they can all help highlight a positive working culture.

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Better Placed’s Agency team recruits across Client Servicing, including PR and Digital, SEO & PPC as well as all roles within the Creative arena across Leeds, Manchester and London.

I hope you find this blog useful. Better Placed has recently launched a new way of working, Agency Linked, offering all the benefits of an outsourced Talent Manager to support our agency clients with all of the above – and it’s free. For more information, visit Agency Linked or call me on 0161 238 6700


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written by Ian Lenehan – Manager in Manchester Office