Hiring Talent: Who's Selling Whom These Days?

Approach Recruiting Like a New-Business Pitch

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Marc Brownstein Marc Brownstein
Landing great talent has become a fine art. Success requires many of the same disciplines that we employ in our everyday lives in the agency. It resembles a new-business pitch:
  • Do your research. Where are you going to look to find the person you need? You need to ask the right questions to get the right word on the street.
  • Define the target. Should you start seeking people who are already at the level you are hiring for, or target those on the rise?
  • Devise a media plan. Headhunter, classified ads, or direct-marketing effort?
  • Craft the message. Why should someone join your agency? What separates your shop from all others this candidate is interviewing at?
  • Present case studies. Show the candidate some of your agency's work, and why it worked.
  • Pitch theater. Take the candidate on an agency tour, and introduce her/him to those on your staff you know will make the right first impression.
  • Schmooze. Take the candidate out for a nice lunch/dinner to build chemistry.
  • Budget. Present a competitive, even creative, compensation package if you want to win.
  • The close. This is where you separate your agency from all others and give the candidate compelling reasons why your agency is the smart career choice.
I wish it wasn't so hard to go through all of this in order to get good talent. But, let's face it, so many good people left our industry during the dot-com bust. And we haven't replenished them yet. So deploying these methods isn't far fetched.

And speaking of far, small agencies should be prepared to recruit many miles beyond their backyards these days. In a lot of mid-size markets, talent is slim pickings. So you'll need to do a regional, or national search to recruit the individual(s) you need. And when you identify that person, get ready to have to talk that person into coming to your fine city. And even is she/he is ready to move, don't be so sure it'll really happen. Spouses have a bigger say in re-locating than the candidates let on during the interview process. If you do come to terms with a candidate out of your market, be ready to reach into your pocket again for some hefty relocation fees. Never stops, eh?

Hopefully, the talent pool will start to grow again. Until it does, recruiting in small-to-mid-size agencies will continue to be just another pitch. But, hey, we're good at that, right?
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