How to attract the best talent to your marketing agency
March 5, 2019
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Who are the most important people for your marketing agency? If you think it’s your clients, think again. After all, would you have any clients without your employees?
That’s right. Even though clients are a crucial factor in every marketing agency’s life, the talent of your employees is even more important to the success of your business. Which is why attracting and retaining top talent should be one of your main priorities.
Unfortunately, finding and keeping the best employees can be as difficult as attracting new clients. Sometimes it’s even harder. Why?
The job market is increasingly competitive. Employees who are dissatisfied with their jobs often don’t shy away from looking for new opportunities. In fact, according to the Work Institute’s 2018 Retention Report, last year one in four employees have left their jobs for better ones.
However, 77% of them would’ve been willing to stay put, had their employers made efforts to keep them. And since keeping a talented employee is cheaper and easier than hiring a new one (fun fact: the cost of employee turnover is expected to rise to $680 billion by 2020 in the US alone), you should make a conscious effort to encourage talent to stay.
But how? Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer to that question.
Employee retention begins at the hiring process. The first step is attracting and hiring prospective employees you’d actually want to retain.
Meaningful job description
Isn’t it odd how all jobs seem to require “enthusiastic,” “passionate,” “inspired,” “driven,” and “highly motivated” “team-players”?
While these are very attractive qualities, they may not all be present in a single person, at least not at the same time, all the time. That’s why job seekers often ignore these adjectives and apply to any job that comes their way, and how you end up with a thousand applications to sort through.
Instead of using general phrases describing a superhero, try to come up with meaningful job listings. Give an honest account of the tasks and the actual qualities you’re looking for in applicants. Does the job involve working late nights with demanding clients? Look for a resilient, flexible candidate who doesn’t mind redoing tasks until the client is satisfied.
Use the same principle when describing the perks of the job. Being specific and honest will ensure you’ll get applications from the right people only and not every single person who comes across your ad.
Marketing agencies have a lot of competition when it comes to attracting talent. The most qualified job-seekers are snatched up by consulting firms like Deloitte and McKinsey, or even tech giants like Google and Apple.
The fact that you still get many job applications for an open position may be misleading. Even though there are thousands of applicants, many of them may not be the cream of the crop. And since having a majority of mediocre employees could reflect poorly on your whole agency, you should definitely aim to hire the best talent available.
Don’t worry. Nobody expects you to outbid Google or Deloitte. Luckily, job seekers know the pros and cons of working for an agile marketing agency instead of a giant, faceless multinational company.
Focus on what you have. Show prospective employees the exciting opportunities your marketing agency can provide them with. Challenging and creative tasks, high-profile clients, professional development, and steady career advancement are a few examples of why top talent could choose your agency over another opportunity.
This is easier said than done. After all, any agency can claim this, but if you want to retain your new hire, you’ll have to live up to their expectations. Don’t embellish the truth; make sure you’re completely honest with your prospective employees.
You’re a new agency just starting out? Explain your vision, and let talent know how you’d work with them to make it big in the industry. You have lots of boring clients with run-of-the-mill projects? Tell potential new hires how you want to go after bigger fish and what their role in the process will be, or how you want to transform each ordinary project into something extraordinary. Show them the growth that’s expected for your business that they’ll want to be a part of.
The point is to highlight your strengths while not hiding your weaknesses. New hires will come face-to-face with those soon enough. And that’s exactly how you’ll lose them. Avoid employee turnover by putting all cards on the table.
Since attracting talent is similar to attracting clients, you can think of the whole process as a part of self-marketing. Be active on- and offline, using platforms your prospective employees like. LinkedIn is an obvious choice, but make sure to appear regularly on other channels like Instagram as well as various marketing and design platforms.
Don’t forget the sites specifically dedicated to employment. Glassdoor and Indeed provide opportunities for employees to vent about their employer. A bad review can seriously hinder your abilities to attract talent. Make sure to regularly check what people have written about you and address any arising issues.
Offer to write guest-blog articles for marketing and HR websites. Highlight an interesting case from your portfolio, or let readers know about the perks of your company culture. Shine an attractive light on your agency and let the right talent flock to you.
Visibility comes in many forms. In addition to the above, you can create an employee referral program where your existing workers can suggest new talent for your agency. Building on the networks of your employees can help widen your reach and lure talent to your firm that otherwise would’ve stayed with their current employers.
Nurture your talent
Just like with a romantic relationship, retaining your top talent requires constant work. Giving them tasks and paying them once a month just doesn’t cut it anymore. Obviously, work and salary are very important factors in the decision to leave or remain with a company, but there are many other elements that affect an employee’s mood, creativity, and loyalty to your agency.
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Take company culture, for instance. In a firm where yelling and backstabbing among coworkers are daily routine, very few employees can flourish. On the other hand, a nurturing, happy company culture can tilt the balance in your agency’s favor, even if a better paying job offer should come along.
Take the time to regularly check-in with your employees and get their feedback on how they’re feeling. Listen to their concerns and suggestions, and take them seriously. Even if you can’t fulfill every wish, make sure to explain why things have to run a certain way.
The main goal is to let your employees know how much you appreciate their contribution. Why?
Because a valued employee is a loyal employee.