Hiring creative talent for the “New Digital” world
Last year was a big year for us at Jam - we managed to get very lucky and win a shed load of new work with a small but passionate team against agencies twice, sometimes three or four times our size.
So now I am looking ahead and starting to think about finding the right people who have what I like to call “New Digital” skills and attitude.
Over the years (yes, I am an old git) I’ve run a number of creative departments in ATL and digital agencies in a number of countries.
I’ve got use to taking a significant deep breath before sourcing talent.
Now it’s difficult enough in traditional agencies to find good folks but when you’re searching for talent that understand not just digital but the “New Digital” (..the world of digital as a stand alone creative force beyond the world of the banner and outside that of matching luggage channel thinking laziness) its bloody hard - it’s like finding a virgin on Kavos!
But why is that? Where are the good ones who can write more than just a TV ad or understand that digital does not equal banner ads and microsites and Facebook apps for fuck sake?
Brazil, Chile, Australia, Sweden, Holland, Germany, Canada, all those places it seems easier to find people that have traditional craft skills and totally get where digital is going than it does back here in the UK. Finding someone based locally should be easy as the UK is constantly producing some stunning work. Does this mean the talent pool here is very limited to a select few and why good people demand to be so highly rewarded?
Are we going to have two levels of remuneration – one for digital and a higher paid one for the “New Digital” creative?
I often ponder the answer - so I asked someone I trust about her views on why digital is short on talent. Amy Heart’s (from We Pick Cherries) answer was really interesting so I decided to put it up to share so you can get a glimpse of the tussles Creative Directors across agencies now face as we move from one era to another.
A view on recruiting by Amy below: …..
With unemployment still sadly so high as Britain heads into a triple-dip-recession, it’s often unbelievable and just a little bit shocking to hear that employers are still clamouring for talent.
How is this possible or even logical? Why? When there are so many qualified creative’s out there and fewer jobs than ever?
The answer is simple…
Quality & quantity is not the same thing, if they were, all recruiting businesses would go out of business!
In my experience, this talent shortage is now a major topic at HR, trade body and recruiting conferences, and the balance of messages on my voicemail has shifted over the past year from inquiries by job seekers to queries by Creative Directors & HR Directors seeking personal referrals to the most talented job candidates. It is indeed stranger that even though every hiring manager knows that the sharpest creative’s don’t stay on the market long that our embedded recruiting processes don’t change, can require too many ‘hoops’ or appear somewhat beaurocratic.
At this time we need to innovate for talent to make recruiting processes for these in demand creatives, easier, sleeker, faster, more approachable and human.
When it comes to digital we have a high growth market, which is relatively fledgling in terms of its possibilities and age, it’s technologies and the people who genuinely get this new and somewhat bewildering media behemoth. Understanding how to make a traditional TV ad is totally different to the skill set than say, is required to launch an innovative piece of social media with touch points in guerrilla, outdoor, viral etc - exploring the boundaries between physical & virtual is not for everyone. As an agent, I see that those who genuinely get digital in a hands-on-way, alongside raw creative power is an often tough combo to find.
Why? Because you’re asking for someone relatively ‘geeky’ to (lets put it frankly) have social skills to get on in a boisterous agency environment coupled with the creative thinking ability which does not get lost in the realms of simply what is possible digitally, but what is the right way of telling this story? Those who can do both can command a high salary for it – after all, we are also an industry sold on our talent are we not?
In several cases I find that the best digital talent are getting picked up, not just be digital agencies, but by above the line agencies looking to expand their offering and not wanting to miss out on that piece of the pie. It is not just the digital market that competes with itself, it is the above the line market competing for the best digital talent too and yes, there is a shortage of it. A very real example of this can be found when you just look at the sheer amount of time that it can take to recruit for a highly talented digital creative. Often it takes a period of months to find what you are looking for, only to find that your chosen creative may have 3 other offers from other agencies all involved in a bidding war with each other.
In order to net the best talent in digital it is important to:
1) Take time with them to build rapport. Drinks, lunch, you name it.
2) Be responsive to and interview quickly (from from inbox to face to face) and decide quickly when the right one comes along. If you snooze, you lose. Go with your instincts.
3) Remunerate them well, not just in terms of what your agency budget allows or their seniority suggests (of course this is important) but other factors like what the current market rates are and what the worth of that person is as an individual, valued by the current roles they are interviewing for and the potential offers they are receiving. The worth of that person may vary by their ability and not just by their years experience on some occasions.
4) Meet the good ones, even if you’re not recruiting. They could be the next big thing for that role that hasn’t happened yet. Build your network.
5) Be there at junior awards ceremonies, build connections with grads that will be the next generation. Even investing in your own awards or graduate programs.
If we don’t invest in the next generation now, we’ll not have a new generation to fill these roles!
A very interesting point of view above by Amy and one I completely agree with. Let me know your thoughts?