Attract the Best in an Era of Drastic Change

Four Ways to Win the Talent War Now

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Google has continued to expand its online-advertising empire with its recent acquisition of DoubleClick but has indicated it will not be contained in that space. The company's talk of entering the TV realm and its agreement with CBS and Clear Channel Radio to sell ads on its stations suggest a broad interest in many aspects of advertising.
Don Leon is senior director, Stephen-Bradford Search's media sales practice. Previously he worked in media sales and sales management.
Don Leon is senior director, Stephen-Bradford Search's media sales practice. Previously he worked in media sales and sales management.

The continual expansion of Google's domain is creating a significant shift in the advertising landscape. While Google is leading the shake-up, it is far from the only player. Traditional advertising leaders such as Viacom are making their mark as well. This rapid market evolution has the advertising industry morphing as it struggles to keep up in a world of blurred lines and crossed skills. Media models must quickly be reinvented.

As innovators push the envelope and entrants arrive and thrive in the marketplace, the key to navigating this precarious intersection is having and retaining the right people. Unfortunately, the pool of candidates who understand how new media and traditional advertising work together is very shallow. The market, which faced negative unemployment even before the recent Google developments, is experiencing a talent war. Smart companies will not let competitors capture their top people and will learn to attract the best and brightest. Equally important, they will invest in growing the skills of their teams.
Here are some ideas for finding and keeping those who can meet today's ever-evolving marketplace reality:

As the many companies in the advertising field vie for talent, a crucial and often overlooked step is looking within. Companies that neglect to identify these potential stars not only miss an opportunity to fill senior spots but inevitably lose these players to competitors who recognize their skills and recruit them away.

Constantly nurturing and offering educational opportunities for existing employees will not only qualify them for the next level, it will keep even senior-level employees stimulated and happy. Working to ensure there is an effective acceleration program that instills team building and evokes leadership qualities can be equally important to senior and junior staff.

Many of the offices in the new-media space offer video-game rooms, in-house gyms or other extras. It may sound frivolous, but with so many companies competing for the same talent, the little things can help stop people from jumping ship or persuade a candidate to accept an offer. However, fun does not necessarily mean a slack work structure. A change of pace in "the same old routine" is often as simple as mini-retreats or even benefits such as free snacks and office parties.

Acknowledging that multiple offers are becoming the norm and that employees may be receiving calls about higher-paying positions, companies need to be more open to salary adjustments. That means not only higher salaries but also thinking outside typical bonus-compensation packages to encourage people to stay put or join your organization. Offering bonuses multiple times a year creates yearlong incentives.
In the ever-evolving world of new-media and traditional advertising, the success of a company is dependent on talent. As the new-media industry grows and baby boomers begin to retire, the talent pool will only become thinner. In the revolution, companies both seasoned and emerging must frequently examine who is on top of knowing and understanding their teams -- them or the competition?
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